Big Fish on the Small Screen

“Monster Fish,” which premiered last night (Sunday, July 18th at 10pm), follows fish fanatic Zeb Hogan on his ongoing mission to find and research the world’s largest freshwater fish.
Hogan is the director of The Megafishes Project, a five-year study to learn more about monsters of the deep. He earned an undergraduate degree in ecology and evolutionary biology from the University of Arizona and a Ph.D. in ecology from the University of California, Davis. He is now an associate research professor at the University of Nevada, Reno. Suffice to say, he knows his fish!
In an upcoming episode titled, “Alligator Gar,” Hogan will go searching for one of North America’s toothiest species, the gar. The fish can reach lengths of 10 feet, have a mouthful of razor-sharp teeth and can actually breathe air.
With a team, Hogan will search to uncover what characteristics of the alligator gar equipped it to survive over the centuries–characteristics like a mouthful of teeth, toxic eggs and nearly-impenetrable scales.
Gar have two rows of teeth on the upper jaw. Their teeth are like needles. They will latch on or dig into their prey, but they can’t take bites out of it.
Any angler who has spent time fishing in the gulf has probably seen (or caught) a gar, but they’re somewhat rare from Ohio to Tennessee.
Unlike most fish, gar can breathe air from the surface, allowing them to live and hunt in swamps and marshes where oxygen levels are low.
Gar scales are rock hard. The whole back of the fish is covered with armor-like scales. Each scale is about as thick as a quarter. The coating is similar to the enamel on human teeth.
Here, Hogan searches the waters and gets ready to catch some gar.
A single female gar can produce 100,000 to 300,000 eggs. They’re not good eating compared to the other fish win the water (like redfish), but still worth studying.
Gar, like this one lurking beneath the surface, are opportunistic feeders. Like sharks and other toothy predators, they spend the least amount of energy they can to hunt and consume their food.
Another upcoming show, “Fish Warrior,” will follow adventure angler Jakub Vagner as he embarks on extreme fishing expeditions to the most remote regions of the world.
Vagner holds some notable fishing records, including a catch of 147 catfish in 40 hours. His world records include capturing one of the largest freshwater fish, the arapaima, in the Amazon River basin. Another world record was granted to Vagner for a 242-pound, 8-foot-long catfish captured on the Italian river Po.
In an upcoming episode, “Amazon Giant,” which premiers on Monday, July 26, at 9 PM ET/PT Vagner treks deep into the Amazon in search of a river monster essentially unchanged since the Jurassic age — the arapaima. These fish can grow to massive proportions and can eat just about anything; they can even snatch up birds and monkeys from the water’s surface.
It’s a grueling expedition, but after days of hiking, canoeing and camping in the jungle’s extreme environment, Vagner makes the catch of a lifetime. He reels in the biggest arapaima he’s ever seen, a 10-foot-long specimen, measuring nearly 5 feet in girth and weighing a whopping 325 pounds.
A close-up of the scales. Note the distinct coloration.
On all his fishing adventures, Vagner strives for catch-and-release.
Check out the new shows and let us know what you think! Leave comments below.