June 29, 2009

Gar on the fly

Gars are badass. Having swam in North American waters for over 50 million years, these living fossils still have what it takes to live in the modern aquatic ecosystem unchanged. The only other native fishes to North America that can even hang with the gar are bowfins and sturgeons. Toothy mofos.

longnose gar
Longnose gar, Lepisosteus osseus, image courtesy of cornell.edu

The buzz on catching gar with a fly has been glowing as of late. Uncommoncarp's recent tango with the dinos, and countless photos of fly caught gars showing up on facebook et al. just add fuel to the fire. I need to catch me one. Before this season even started, I set off with hopes of catching a longnose gar this year. If the opportunity comes along, I won't pass up the chance at a shortnose either.

Catching a gar can be quite tricky; their extremely bony mouths can prove difficult to set a hook properly. Thankfully, fellow roughfisherman Carpstalker passed along some solid info regarding the pursuit of gar with a fly. Rope flies are the only way to go to ensure a solid connection between gar and angler. Fairly easy to tie too. Just get yourself a tippet ring or a split ring, some garland or tinsel and a nylon rope. Run a length of rope and tinsel through the ring eye and double it back. Tie in just behind the bend to form a head section and tie off. Pull the threaded section of nylon rope apart, so that the body is frayed. This is what will catch the gar: the gar's teeth will get caught in the nylon fibers. Be sure to bring a heavy duty glove and a stiff brush to help release the fibers from the teeth after catching a gar; their skin is sharp! Just be sure to keep a solid grip on these fish as they have a tendency to play 'possum on you.

The hot, dank steamy days of July are perfect for gar fishing in Minnesota. Fish float up to the surface in shallow vegetated bays like stacked cord word. Spooky, much care is need to stealthy drift upon a school undetected. I hope to harvest a specimen this season. I'm looking to dry a fish and bleach the skeleton for display, celebrating the mana and beauty of such a beautiful creature. Underappreciated.

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