Two friends of mine, Dave and Mike, had never caught a Longnose Gar. So we planned a day to give it a shot. Our original date was last weekend. However, heavy rainfall just before the weekend blew out the river. So we delayed the trip until this Sunday. The river was still high, but the river height data appeared fishable. I've never fished water this high before, so we were definitely taking a gamble.
A 2-hour drive later, we were found a roaring river. The current was so powerful that it was not even remotely safe to wade, not even in the shallows. Luckily, there was a back eddy close to shore that was holding a number of Longnose Gar and the water clarity was decent. I was pretty relieved at that point since it could have been a complete bust. So we got the gear ready and started drifting small minnows in the eddy current.
Earlier in the morning, the fish were not very active. We lost a few hits but bites were far and few in between. So I decided to explore a little with my fly rod. Somehow, I forgot to bring the camera with me...and of course I would catch two Longnose Gar on the fly without the camera to document the catch.
When I returned to Dave and Mike, Dave landed 2 gar and Mike landed 1. Once the sun peeked out of the clouds, the water warmed up more and the gar began to bite more regularly.
Here are some pictures of our wonderful gars.
By mid-afternoon, each of us had landed at least 5 gars. All of us had a couple of gar came off the hook right by shore just as we were netting it. In the past, we found that #8 treble hooks were perfect for most of these gar. The size of the gap was just wide enough to trap their jaws shut, yet not too wide to allow the hooks to slip off easily. This year, we realized that a sideway sweep of the rod set the hook much better than an upward motion. Even though gars have very hard jaw, the mechanic of the hookset dictated the sideway sweep and we improved our hooking and landing ratio to about 50% of the bites. That's pretty good since in the past, we would be lucky to hook 30% of our bites...and lucky to be able to land 30% of the fish we hooked.
By around 2:30pm, we ran out of minnows (we started with around 3 dozen). We decided to fish the other side of the river where I saw some Common Carp in the morning. However, the carp had left so we decided to fish some worms for whatever may bite.
There was not shortage of Smallmouth Bass. Since bass season was closed, the bass received a quick release without pics. I was catching smallies on the fly, with the minnows and on nightcrawlers. Many of them were 1-2lbs, with a few that were pushing 2.5-3lbs!
Surprisingly, I found a very ambitious Logperch that bit half a nightcrawler on a #8 hook!
There was also no shortage of Rock Bass.
We found a few Brown Bullheads too.
It was a fun day of not just gar fishing, I'm especially happy my two friends had checked off the Longnose Gar from their wish list. :). But it was also a multi-species kind of day. In total, we caught: