May 12, 2018

Wrangling Alligator Gar in Texas

This trip is one I've wanted to do for some time but never took the time/effort to do it. As fate would have it, I had a business trip that took me to Houston so I took an extra day off to finally make it happen. I landed at 12:30 am and needed to meet the guide at 6 am. What I forgot to account for was the 2 hour drive I had from the airport so I ended up just sleeping in my rental car for a few hours before the trip started. The guide service I went with is which turned out to be a fantastic choice. I fished with Captain Cody and he far exceeded my expectations. My expectations were to hook 5-6 gar and land 3-4 total for the 10 hour day I booked and we blew that out of the water.

Trinity River

We had a beautiful day weather wise as we launched and started heading up river to some spots Capt. Cody has had success with in the past. We got our lines out and didn't have to wait long till we had some action. Gar will take the bait and run with it in their mouth so you need to wait a while before setting the hook. Cody explained that once they stop taking line, they eat the bait whole and then start heading back towards us. When I saw the float start coming back at us slowly, I reeled in the extra line and set the hook. FISH ON! It wasn't a long fight but an acrobatic one. I had a smaller gar on and we landed it in short order. My first ever Alligator gar measured out at 4 feet. The next few fish we landed were all 5 ft 8 in or 5 ft 9 in. We really never had much time between fish which as awesome!

My first Alligator Gar.

Looking at their head, It's no wonder how they got their name.

5 ft 9 in Gar. 

Another 5 ft 9 in Gar.
 A really cool experience during this trip was having three takes at the same time. With three fish going, I started fighting one while Capt. Cody got the lines with no fish out of the water. We landed the first one, got it in the boat and then started fighting the second, and then the third. We had line everywhere from lines being crossed but we managed to land all three fish. The smallest was 5 feet and the largest went 6 foot 3 inches. Cody told me this was the first time having a triple landed on his boat, and it made for a great picture before releasing all of them.

Landed a triple which was a first for Capt Cody.  Size ranged from 5 ft to 6 ft 3 inches.
Here is a look at the business end of a Gar. Two rows of razor sharp teeth.

6 ft 3 in Gar. 
To this point we had landed 8 of the 10 Gar we hooked. It had already been one of the best guided day trips I've ever been on, but it was about to get even better. Cody took me to a spot and told me that the fishing would be slow, but if we hooked up, it would be a big one. Cody was right yet again except for it being slow. We watched a gar rise to get air (they are air breathers) and it was a giant which got me excited. About 10 minutes later, something took the bait and headed up river. We got the other lines in the boat and had to start following it. Once it stopped, we gave it a few minutes and then I set the hook.
FISH ON! At first I couldn't tell how big the fish was because it was swimming right at us, but once it knew it was hooked, it tore off line like it was nothing. I fought this fish for about 15 minutes before getting a glimpse ,and that one look confirmed we had a huge fish on. The fight continued for several more minutes and we thought we had the upper hand. Cody maneuvered the boat to shallower water so we could land it and that when things went south.
As I got the fish closer to the boat the gar made one last short run and found a submerged tree where it got hung up. I couldn't budge it an inch. We were 6-8 ft of water and for the next 20-30 minutes we worked trying various things to try and get the line free. We broke branches form the log, trying another rod to hook the line and pull it in a different direction but nothing was working.
Then an idea came to me. I asked Cody where his life jackets were and he got one for me. With that I was in the water. I was not going to lose the potential largest fish I've ever fought. I went over to the line and ran my foot down it until I felt the nose of the fish so I would know exactly where he was. I then asked Cody to put the pole through the lasso we used to land earlier fish so now the line was in the middle of the lasso loop. I let the lasso sink and I used my feet the best I could to work the lasso around the Gar. Once I thought that the lasso was in position, I gave it a yank. I felt the weight of the fish and slowing started bringing him to the surface. It was thrashing around a bit so I had to be sure to give him space.
Once we got the head above water, Cody noticed the lasso was barely holding so I handed him the rope. I told him on the count of three, I was going to bear hug the fish and he needed to slide the lasso into position to get the best hold. He looked at me like I was crazy (fair assessment looking back on it). Well, I counted to three and wrapped myself around that fish for a few seconds while Cody worked the lasso. Mission accomplished!!! I didn't realize until later that Cody had snapped a few pictures with is phone while I was working that lasso in the water, but I m so glad he did. You have to have proof with a story like this. I still can't believe we got that fish in the boat. This gar measured out to 7 foot 11 inches and weighted roughly 210 pounds making this the largest fish I have ever landed. We went to a nearby sandy bank to get a few pictures of this river giant before releasing him back into the Trinity River.

Running my foot down the line to see where the monster gar is.

Getting the Gar out of the submerged tree. I wasn't going to give up on this fish.

7 ft 11 in river monster. The prize for not giving up.

210 pounds of Gar.

Things really are bigger in Texas.

we ended the day on that fish meaning we landed 9 of the 11 Alligator Gar we hooked that day. I can't thank Cody enough for a trip of a lifetime and more importantly a fish of a lifetime. If you ever want a trip to go after these prehistoric fish, I highly recommend giving these guys a call. I know I'll be back again.
I also hit an Astros game with my friend that lives in Houston.  My friend works for the Astros and was generous in getting me a ticket. They played the Yankees and lost, but it was still great to be in the ballpark. My favorite part though was getting to try on his World Series championship ring he received a few week prior. What a job perk!

A view of Minute Maid Park before the game.

Great seats. Thanks again Ryan.

A look at my friends World Series ring. Go Astros!

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