Start Catching Gar
Start Catching Gar
If you are one of those people who say gar are trash fish, or if you have no interest, then read this article. If you ache to catch a gar but don't know how to start, you will now know just how to catch them - fast.
I'll start here: Gar can seem challenging to catch with their bony mouths and teeth. I had always wanted to catch a gar - since I started fishing on the Harpeth River in 2003 at age 11.
The Harpeth River is located in middle Tennessee, and I live less than a mile from it. Its average width is only about a cast wide, but it can reach 8 feet deep in some places. Since I started fishing I have caught largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, bream, freshwater drum, channel catfish, rock bass, and of course gar. There are many black buffalo and carp, which I have yet to catch. I have caught (using a cast net) many species of minnows and other smaller fish such as suckers and logperch. A few people I've met that fish the Harpeth have caught crappies - which I also have yet to catch.
Okay, now to get to the point. I caught my first gar in 2005 on a live shiner. You can hook them, but they must swallow the bait to get the hook in far enough. Rope lures are popular and work, but I only use fresh fish on a hook.
Two hooks I use to catch gar are the treble and Kahle. I had been using the Kahle up until I caught a gar on a white Rooster Tail this summer. That got me started on trebles - the fish was hooked in its bony snout by two of the hooks. Either hook works, but when using bait it is best to let the gar swallow it first before setting the hook.
Below I will show what baits to use and how to use the different types of hook; and how to use it as a lethal weapon against gar.
Bait - I harvest all my bait in the shallow current and rapid areas of the Harpeth with my 4.5-foot radius monofilament cast net. I catch shiners, redhorse, logperch and the occasional bass or bream.
Any fish will work for bait. Larger ones can be cut into chunks and smaller ones can be fished whole or live.
I have seen a gar attack a grasshopper I was using once and one bite a nightcrawler. They will eat almost any live or dead bait you present. My personal favorite is the fish, being the most abundant food source.
Okay, the hooks - a Kahle usually hooks the fish in the corner of the mouth but sometimes is swallowed. I have removed a hook from the throat of a gar with little harm done to the fish, but usually if it's in the throat it becomes embedded. When this happens, cut the line with no effort to remove the hook; the gar will most likely be fine.
Treble hooks can more easily catch the snout but can also cause a lot of harm when embedded in the throat. I have had times where four or five gar in a row spat out the hook. Trebles can be a problem, so I would reccomend starting with a Kahle.
For hook sizes and how to rig the bait: Kahle 1/0 or 2/0 or treble to match the size of the gar. It is a lot easier to rig bait on a Kahle - just push the hook all the way through the middle or toughest section of the bait. With a treble I usually run two of the points through the bait and leave a third one free. I always fish weightless for gar, and sometimes use a small float to track the fish.
If you fish for alligator gar (which I have not), use larger hooks because they can exceed 100 pounds. I catch longnose in the Harpeth and would love to get an alligator, which do not live in the Harpeth.
Time to go fishing - Now that you know what to use to catch gar, all you have to know is where and how to actually catch them. Ask fishermen you know where they have caught or seen gar. Find the right spot and you're on the easy road to a great fishing experience.
If the spot is a good one, you should see gar during the summer just under the surface resting. If not, they may still be there. If you fish there several times during the mid- to late summer and see no gar, move to a different spot. You can catch gar when they are not near the surface, but I prefer the action and excitement of surface gar fishing.
When you spot a gar within casting range, make sure your bait is ready and your rod and line are suitable for the size you are targeting. The next step is important - it's time for the action.
Throw the bait just in front of and slightly beyond the gar. If it is moving, throw it farther in front. Reel slowly with the rod tip raised until the bait is just in front of the gar. Let it sink and watch the gar swim down after it. After several seconds your line will begin to move. Make sure the reel is open and free of tangles.
Gar have a way of eating - they will chew on the bait, then swim a distance, then chew more, and repeat this several times. Usually they swim around instead of straight out. Remember this for when you have your first gar on the line.
It is very important that you give the gar time to eat the bait - you never know when it has swallowed but you should allow 4-5 minutes. You will know you didn't wait long enough if you set the hook and the whole bait comes back. Give the fish time.
Once you are sure the fish has swallowed, you are ready for the battle - but the fish is not. Reel up all the slack until you feel the pull of the fish. Immediately set the hook hard - you'll know in the next three seconds whether your fish is hooked. Play it carefully until you can net it. A net is important - I lost a big one because I didn't have one with me. Lift the fish onto the bank/boat and you have landed your first gar!
If you have never caught a gar, use this info and when you catch one, leave a review and tell me the story. I would be glad to hear. If you catch one during the winter - tell me what technique and bait you used and where you caught it. Thanks