As a kid I remember chasing sand bass on Lake Texoma. Once in a blue moon you'd see some fish schooling, slide in and pull back a lure with straightened fishing hooks. Dad would say, "Pull 'em in boys, it's just gar."
|The author with a gar caught using a nylon rope, jigheads and a plastic tail.|
Later, one of dad's buddy's made some lures with a piece of frayed nylon rope. The gar would bite it and their teeth would get tangled in the rope. I don't remember ever using that lure butI thought I'd give it a try.
Fast forward to last week — 50 years later — we're now noodling on an undisclosed river in Kansas and see a lot of gar surfacing. Hmm, I wonder if that old wife's tale about the nylon rope would really work?
I grabbed some 1/8 ounce jigs and some plastic 4-inch tails. Use something like a Luck E Strike's Thumpers, Super Soft kit or 4-inch Ring Worm. Tie on your jig, hook the plastic and then unwind a soft nylon rope and tie it around the head of your jig.
I then cut it about 3 1/2-inches long. Otherwise the tail gets tangled up in the rope and it doesn't work for you. The tail flipping attracts them better although we did hang some with a 6-inch rope.
If they're feeding, throw right past where they hit just like on any fish and drag it through the ring. Since I'm fishing in a river I throw it upstream a couple of feet in case he moved ahead. Many times I'll throw it out and hold my rod tip up so the jig is dangling near the surface. In Idaho we do what we call hot shotting. That's when you dangle a Hot 'N Tot out back of your drift boat in a hole to catch a steelhead. It reminds me of that.
If I'm not getting hits on top I'll reel slowly along the bottom and pick up some down there. That's where I hang most of my bigger gar. They seem to favor slower water as a whole and the still back eddies. One day I hung a ton of them beside a log jam. They must have been lying in there thick as thieves.
The other afternoon I hung a 4-footer and had him nearly fought in and he snapped off. In a few more minutes I hung one for a few seconds and never got him off the bottom before he spit the hook. He was a nice one, I imagine pushing 5-feet.
At least right now they've really been active between 5:30-7:30 p.m. and then they just shut off. They like the sunny afternoons but we did well on a cloudy day as well. In fact I had 37 hits in two hours and my buddy Brandonn Nuckles had as many.
Tuesday I hung one nice one that ripped the drag 2-3 times before I really started making any headway. It almost reminded me of a king salmon taking a run. I finally turned him and started working him in. I had him almost to me and he ripped loosed. I figure he was pushing 5 foot. On the bigger ones I think that it is better to not be super aggressive or the nylon just doesn't hold.
We walked on downstream and then I hooked into a nice one. It was only waist deep but it was a little swifter so he put up a fight. We finally got him in and he measured out at 45-inches. We took a few pics and let him go.
We just grab them 1/3 of the way down the body. Half the time you'll have to cut the nylon loose to free him. You'll want to carry a Havalon knife because you'll need a knife that is super sharp so you can hurry and free him.
It also works good to stand on a sandbar (submerged) in front of the hole and throw to them. That way you can hold up your rod tip and hot shot it. I get quite a few hits that way. About 70 percent of our fishing will be throwing to their last swirl but I've also got a bunch just by casting around. It seems most of my bigger ones are down a little deeper.
They haven't really been too spooky. I've had jet boats crank right in beside the holes we're fishing in and they just keep hitting. It seems like most of them will go deeper but regardless, I keep getting fish.
As we close, you may just want to try tying into a lowly gar. I love it.