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The Lowdown on Long-Nose Gar

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March 21, 2014
9599   Comment

The first day of spring has arrived, and although those in the north still have snow and ice to contend with, open water is just around the corner. A great start to the season is the pursuit of long-nose gar — a prehistoric-looking fish with an ornery attitude and rows of razor sharp teeth. Here are some tips on how to put one in the boat.

Springtime is Best for Finding Gar

gar nose guide
Gar nose guide. Longnose Gar vs other gar species photo Kentucky Department Fish & Wildlife

May and June are typically the best months for gar fishing. Hit the water on those hot and sunny early season days, when gar are more prone to be in shallow water and high in the water column.

Backwater bays that hold less than six-feet of water are prime locations, with a mixture of emergent weed, pads, and wood.

Use Your Eyes to Catch Gar

The best way to catch a gar is by sight-fishing. Casting blindly can be a time waster with these guys, so actively search the shallows for a fish, then target it. Polarized sunglasses are a must out in the boat, as is a bow-mount electric motor.

When the sun is high and the fish are up, cruise likely-looking areas slowly and methodically, scanning out and to the side of the boat. Once a fish is spotted the fun then begins.

Make Your Cast Count

Casting accuracy is important when targeting long-nose gar. To elicit a strike, your lure should land just past the tail of the fish, and adjacent to its body. Retrieving your lure in this manner will ensure it runs parallel to the length of the fish. Six to eight-inches out to the side is optimum.

Long-nose gar are reactive strikers. They wait for prey to swim by, then lunge their jaws sideways to snatch up a meal. Fish will sense your bait long before it travels to the side of their snout, at which point they will instinctively lash out at it. Game on!

Crank Them In

There are a number of lures that work well for gar. The easiest to use, and one of the more effective, is a standard shallow running "bass" crankbait. Lures 3 to 4-inches in length that run just below the surface are ideal. Choose a bright color to ensure eye contact with your bait is always possible.

1 arrow point Read Gar in the Pan Recipes

Fishing Gar Gear Guide

A 7.5-foot flipping stick is your best bet for tackling gar. It has the power and backbone to fight these fish, as well as the length to pitch baits out easily and accurately. Choose a braid line in either 50 or 60-pound test strength. And although they have sharp teeth, a leader isn't needed with these guys. You can find this fishing tackle at Bass Pro Shops.

Have fun chasing these toothy critters come spring. On looks alone, they certainly are one of the coolest fish out there to catch.


Tagged under Read 9599 times Last modified on October 20, 2017
Justin Hoffman

Justin Hoffman is a freelance outdoor writer and photographer, with a fishing specialty, based in Ottawa Ontario, Canada. A graduate of the North American School of Outdoor Writing and currently a field editor with Ontario OUT OF DOORS magazine, outdoor pursuits with a journalistic approach keep him returning to the field week after week. A well-established freelance writer since 1999, Justin has publishing credits in many North American magazines and web sites. His photographic stock work also appears regularly. In addition to his writing and photography work, Justin is also a Pro Staffer for TUFF-Line and National Pro Staff. For more information visit

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