Allatoona Gar Record Set By Youth

John N. Felsher | June 13, 2023

Leam Farmer’s longnose gar weighed 12-lbs., 3.68-ozs., establishing a new Lake Allatoona record for the species. It beat the old lake record of 8 pounds.

Little more than a month after Seth Shoults, of Cartersville, set two Etowah River catfish records in one night, he guided his nephew into the Lake Allatoona waterbody record books.

On the evening of April 21, Seth established the new blue catfish and channel catfish waterbody records on the Etowah River. He caught a 7-lb. channel catfish that measured 27 inches long. It beat the previous record of 6 pounds.

Less than an hour later, Seth fought a whiskered behemoth for about 20 minutes before finally landing a 50-lb. blue catfish that measured 43 inches long with a 31-inch girth. That big blue beat the old river record of 36 1/2 pounds.

Two Etowah River Records In One Night

On Memorial Day, May 29, Seth set out to break another fish record. He wanted his 12-year-old nephew Leam Farmer, of Emerson, to break the lake record for longnose garfish. This fall, Leam will enter the seventh grade at Red Top Middle School in Emerson.

They launched Seth’s 1972 16-foot aluminum boat into Lake Allatoona at about 4 p.m. The popular 12,000-acre lake near Cartersville attracted a huge holiday crowd of boaters enjoying the unofficial beginning of summer. At first, the day on the water didn’t go so well for the uncle and nephew team with little happening other than a pounding from other boaters before the afternoon turned into night.

“We were out most of Memorial Day during the day getting beat up by waves and wind while trying to get away from everybody on the water so we could fish,” Seth said. “We ended up staying until midnight. The magic happened between 9 to 11 p.m. when the lake calmed down.”

Finally, the pair pulled into a cove in the Little River area. Off a shallow point adjacent to a creek channel, they set out 6-foot B’n’M Silver Cat Elite rods topped by Abu Garcia C3 6500 reels spooled with 30-lb. Trilene Big Game monofilament main line. Seth used a Santee-Cooper rig with a three-way swivel, the same type of rig he used to catch his record catfish a month earlier.

For targeting gar, instead of a 2- to 3-foot leader, Seth tied on a 4- to 5- foot leader of 50-lb. monofilament tipped with an 8/0 circle hook. He wanted the bait to float higher off the bottom, so he lengthened the leader. He sweetened that hook with a chunk of gizzard shad. From the drop line, he attached 2- to 3-oz. lead weights. Finally, after fishing for hours, something took the bait.

“The lake was rough because there were so many boats on it for the holiday,” Leam said. “We fished for about eight hours before we got the first bite. When I got the first bite, the reel got stuck on my jacket when I hooked the fish, so I couldn’t reel it in. Uncle Seth had to get my jacket off the reel.”

Leam pulled in a good channel catfish, but no record. They released it to let it grow. They waited a little longer. Finally, at about 11:25 p.m., another fish took the shad chunk.

“Leam goes fishing with his Uncle Seth a pretty good bit,” said Amy Farmer, Leam’s mother and Seth’s sister. “On that night, Leam said that all of a sudden, the reel clicker was going off like crazy so he popped up and started reeling in the fish. He knew he had a big fish on the line.”

“We were fishing off the bottom with cut shad for bait,” Leam said. “When I heard the sound of the reel going off, I was really excited to reel the fish to the boat. We fish for blue, channel and flathead catfish and also garfish if we can hook them. Garfish are pretty hard to catch. I let this one run with the line for a while to make sure I had a good hook-up. He jumped a few times so I could see he was big. We thought it might be a new lake record.”

Encased in interlocking scales for armor with a snout filled with needle-sharp teeth, garfish can breathe both air and water, allowing them to thrive in places that could never support other fish. Longnose gar can reach lengths of 6 feet and weigh more than 50 pounds, but more typically range from 2 to 4 feet long.

Leam fought the toothy prehistoric predator for about five minutes before subduing it. Seth and Leam later took the garfish to Findley’s Butcher Shop ( in Cartersville to weigh it. Leam’s longnose garfish weighed 12-lbs., 3.68-ozs., establishing a new lake record for the species. It beat the old lake record of 8 pounds.

“We were trying to break the lake record for garfish—and we did!” Leam said. “I’ve never caught a fish that big before. It was the biggest fish in my life. I’ve caught small garfish in a creek by our house where we fish, but not one this big. We caught one more small catfish after the garfish.”


Lake Allatoona Record Fish

Largemouth Bass16-lbs., 9-ozs.Greg Rymer08/31/82
Spotted Bass7-lbs., 11-ozs.George Clark11/18/74
Hybrid Bass13-lbs., 9.5-ozs.Danny Alsobrook02/07/90
Striped Bass42-lbs.Clint Hight02/15/02
Black Crappie3-lbs., 7.36-ozs.Corey Harmon03/05/22
White Bass3-lbs., 2-ozs.Darrell Baxter05/15/94
Flathead Catfish35-lbs., 10.88-ozs.Sandy Sanders06/20/08
Blue Catfish52-lbs., 1-oz.Aaron Churchwell10/27/20
Tiger Trout2-lbs., 12.8-ozs.Bob Geresti02/01/18
Yellow Perch1-lb., 1.44-ozs.David Brewer12/02/23
White Crappie3-lbs., 4.24-ozs.Cody Hopkins02/10/22
Longnose Gar27-lbs., 4-ozs.Caleb McClure06/24/23
Shellcracker2-lbs., 5-ozs.Dan Huizinga04/20/24


See all of GON’s official Georgia Lake & River Records here.

Requirements For Record Fish

• Fish must be caught legally by rod and reel in a manner consistent with state game and fish regulations.

• Catch must be weighed on accurate Georgia DOA certified scales with at least two witnesses present, who must be willing to provide their names and phone numbers so they can be contacted to verify the weighing of the fish.

• Witnesses to the weighing must be at least 18 years old, and they must not be members of the angler’s immediate family nor have a close personal relationship with the angler.

• Catch must be positively identified by qualified DNR personnel.

GON’s records are compiled and maintained by GON, to be awarded at GON’s discretion. Additional steps may be required for record consideration.


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