I just got back from a mission to visit a good friend and was able to fish saltwater for the first time of my life and also was able to target one of the most awesome North American native species, the Alligator Gar. This is the account of the gator gar specific missions.
After leaving the salt we set up on a canal filled with mullet shortly before dark. Almost immediately I got runs that acted like gar. One of which I saw roll with my line in its mouth confirming that least some were Gator Gar. Most dropped the bait and the few that held I failed to hook. Once darkness came the bite stopped cold. I tried in vain for another bite but only the mosquitos obliged.
I set up on different canal this time one with some shade as I was thoroughly fried from the weekend. Action was slower here, after many hours I got a gar run but again failed to connect. In between I fished a lighter rod and caught a Texas Cichlid, Redspotted Sunfish, Spotted Gar, Gulf Killifish and Fat Sleepers.
Then shortly after another gar run, this fish slowly swimming far down the canal, eventually I made contact and a heavy fight ensued. Eventually a beautiful gator gar, maybe 5’ long, lay in the water at my feet. Only wobbly rip-rap stood in the way. Not a great place to land a large fish by yourself. After debating I decided to attempt the lasso maneuver. Unfortunately the noose caught the line and the fish lunged and in a flash the fish was gone. Another gar would pick up the bait a little later but dropped the bait.
I found third spot to try, posted in some shade to set up for the day. Once again chunks of cut mullet went out on heavy rods and a worm on bottom on light tackle. This spot looked to be moderately poor for fish landing as well but I’m a glutton for punishment. At least this bank was just rocky and not steep as well.
The morning went by quitely, shortly after noon line started flowing off behind a mullet head. Again I was able to make contact, again a heavy fight followed. Again the fish made it to bank, this fish was similar in size to the I lost the day before. I was unsure if I should try the lasso again but I decided to give it another go. This time too the line caught and the fish lunged, with a pop the 65lb braid separated with ease and I slumped back to ground in the shade of a tree.
No reason to sulk when fish are about, I re-rigged and launched another mullet head out. Over the next 3 melty hours I’d get 5 more runs. Of those, 4 failed to produce a solid hook up but the 5th held fast. This fish was smaller but still put on a decent fight, again the fish made it to the bank. I looked at the fish, then the bank, then the noose and back the fish. I couldn’t lose another fish to shotty noose work. I stepped into the water onto the slippery broken chunks of rock and guided the gar toward the bank flopping it up on to shore with the grace of a one armed wallpaper hanger. The tenuous maneuver it actually worked, I finally had a fish of dreams, the Alligator Gar.
I took off a few days of gar chasing to try and find larger Blue Cat and some additional Saltwater species, efforts met with modest results. Come June 1st I opted for another attempt at another Gator Gar, first checking the bayou outside the city. While the ambiance of the spot was good, there wasn’t a stitch of shade and I began melting immediately. A gator (the reptile kind) took an interest to my angling. I came to the conclusion that he might make landing fish more difficult than the rocks so we headed back to fish in the shade.
Crabs were an ongoing issue but with a full bucket of Mullet for bait I was able to keep at it all day despite conditions beyond what I wanted deal with. I had one run at another new spot but failed to connect on the hook set. Then headed back to where I had previously successfully landed a Gator Gar and set back up. Again, the crab bites came fast. Gar bites, not so much. About mid-afternoon that changed with 3 runs in a short period of time, 2 of which dropped the bait. The one fish did not drop the bait ran a shorter distance than most the gar runs I had and stopped cold for a long time. Long enough that I assumed it was a drop as well. I cranked down and felt weight, swung hard and the fish dumped a good chunk of line.
Unfortunately the hook did not stick true and pulled before the fish turned. Things quieted down for bit after that, early in the evening I got a 5th run. This fish ran at least 200 yards of line from the spool before it actually stopped. After a painful wait I decided to make contact, this time the hook stuck. A few jumps later and the gar cruised past just under the surface of the water. This one was less cooperative but still rolled up on the bank successfully and my second gator gar came to hand.