Catching gar from a kayak – on purpose

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For anyone who knows me, they probably understand that my body is not made for a kayak. I am not very bendy to say the least. So, when fellow scribe Joel Spring of Ransomville asked me to go kayak fishing for longnose gar no less, I was a bit apprehensive. First, because of that whole kayak thing. Second, because who goes fishing for gar – on purpose!

I decided to give it a try. Spring promised that it would be plenty comfortable because it was a sit-on-top kayak with a seat and plenty of room to stretch. Once I was in/on the personal vessel, he was right – it was not bad at all.

Like with any fishing trip, I brought way too much gear. That is not good for a kayak, especially when you are not very bendy. Did I mention that? I brought along my camera bag that was stuffed with extra fishing tackle and binoculars (which I could not reach because it was on the bow of the kayak strapped down). I had an extra tackle box that was tied down to the stern of the boat (which I also could not reach because I am not very bendy).

Basically, all I needed was my fishing rod and a lure in the way of tackle. And “lure” is suspect because there are no hooks on it. Spring calls it a “rope fly” and he has added a spinner to give it a little flash. It is a piece of rope that has been frayed. That is all you need. Really.

We paddled across the launch ramp on the Oak Orchard River and Spring was immediately excited.

“There are lots of gar just outside the weed bed,” as he pointed near the docks. He caught one on his first cast and I immediately paddled over to try and take a photo or two from the phone. My camera bag was too far away.

“You should see them just fine if you have polarized sunglasses,” he said.

I switched the glasses I had on and it seemed to make a difference, but I still could not see them … until I did. Then they were everywhere. These waters were infested with longnose gar and if I were going to catch one, this would be the place.

As we moved up the creek in search of more active gar, it did not take long. Yes! I fought the fish as Spring jockeyed into place to take some photos. The rope fly worked its magic and I pulled the fish alongside my kayak. There was no net.

“Just put your gloves on and grab it by the snout,” said Spring matter-of-factly.

These gars have a long mouth full of teeth. Trying to get the fish to open its mouth to pull the rope fly out was no easy task. Spring came over to assist as he saw me holding the body with one hand and the mouth with the other.

Once we released the fish, Spring was back off casting, catching several more gars including one that was huge. “They get bigger than this, too,” said Spring. He was much more adept at catching, and releasing, the prehistoric-looking fish.

I had several more hits, but the rope fly failed to connect properly. Next time … and there will be a next time – if Joel asks again. We will have to wait and see on that one.

It took me longer to get out of the kayak after my legs were locked into place from not moving them for 2-1/2 hours. However, it was worth it, and it was a great experience to try something new and be successful.

I wonder how a pontoon boat would work fishing for longnose gar.

Categories: Blog Content, New York – Bill Hilts Jr

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