The angler stands in the bow of the boat, eyes scanning the water for that telltale flash of green that betrays the fishís presence.
His heart stops! Thereís one! He carefully casts two feet in front of the skulking four-footer. . . the fish turns . . . he takes! Line peels off the reel. Set the hook after the fish stops . . .but he doesnít stop! Will there be any line left? Then, abruptly, the leviathan does stop and slowly starts to move off again. The wide-eyed angler reels in getting slack out of the line. He SETS THE HOOK! Fish on! And now the no-holds-barred fight begins.
Was that a description of an expensive, guided trip to tropical waters for bonefish? No! Itís what happens when gar anglers run and gun for longnose. This kind of angling can be done out of any boat or float-tube. Shore anglers will have a harder time, but it still can be done. The equipment needed is probably already in your possession; the gar are waiting.
Wherever longnose are present is the place to go. Use any watercraft, but a boat with a casting deck and an electric motor is ideal. Your favorite rod and reel will most likely do fine. We prefer a medium spinning outfit loaded with no-stretch Berkley FireLine. On the terminal end, a single or treble hook with a treble trailer hook has worked for us. A minnow in the 4-6 inch range is usually the right size to get the gar interested.
The technique is simple. Cruise until you see a gar and then cast the minnow in front of him. Often youíll actually see the fish go for the minnow. That gets the blood flowing! At other times, youíll know the fish has taken because line is peeling off your reel like crazy. Gar usually first hold the bait gingerly at the tip of the snout, then pause and work it back. Big longnose move a shorter distance away and more slowly. Little ones, perhaps fearing theft, zip far away quickly with the bait. So, in a textbook case, let the fish run until he stops and then set the hook when the fish starts moving again. Unfortunately, some fish donít stop. So when it comes to timing the hook set, youíre on your own. Just wait longer than you think you should. If you donít get a take in an area, move on. There are other fish in the lake . . . literally.
And thatís about all there is to it. Grab your rod and a minnow bucket and tow your boat to your favorite gar waters. Iíve found that when you bring a friends to run the trolling motor, itís good to let them fish occasionally. Have fun, be safe, and send pictures to GASS.
-----by Shortnose Tom Lamb
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