A friend sent me this photo of a fossilized fish in a museum. Even if there were anglers around to cast for this beast, the wire leader had yet to be invented so Iâ€™m sure any battle would have been short-lived. Amazingly, there are several existing fish which are considered â€śliving fossils.â€ť The fish you catch look exactly like what can be found as a fossil, formed millions of years ago. One of these is the gar.
This underappreciated â€śroughâ€ť fish is impressively built. It is armored with hard sharp scales and a row of line-cutting teeth that doesnâ€™t seem to quit. And although I have yet to taste gar, I have heard from several anglers that it is â€śgood eatin.â€ť
For heavy tackle anglers, there is an amazing catch and release fishery for alligator gar in the Trinity River in Texas. Mark Zona, host of Zonaâ€™s Awesome Fishing Show, fished for them using a fist-sized chunk of carp for bait. He caught several the size of a small kayak.
For lighter tackle anglers, look for longnose, shortnose, and spotted gar. Even fly-fishermen can get in on the action, sometimes using a lure that is little more than a frayed section of nylon rope. Apparently to gar, rope looks like large bait fish. There is no hook with this lure so you canâ€™t hook your partnerâ€™s ear while casting. Their teeth just tangle in it, like when floss gets stuck between a couple of your molars.
Ashley Rae, angling blogger at www.shelovestofish.com and co-host of Fly Nation TV, became â€śaddictedâ€ť to gar this year while fishing from a kayak in the Bay of Quinte in Ontario, Canada.
â€śWe started off sight-fishing for them,â€ť she wrote. Using a Rapala X Rap lure in very shallow water, she would cast from a distance to avoid spooking them. â€śWe would cast behind or around them, bringing the lure up beside them, swimming the same direction they were, or right in front of their faces â€“ and they would chase it down and strike aggressively.â€ť Once hooked, the gar â€śjumped out of the water, thrashed like crazy and really put up a good battle!â€ť
Rough fish? Yes, and tough. If you want a battle, try hooking a living fossil with teeth.