I was free yesterday, so I loaded up the kayak and headed north to check out Gar Lake, a spot Bill and Olaf have recommended. This was my inaugural kayak fishing trip, so I was excited to get on the water with rods in the rod holders. I actually launched at an adjacent lake called Carp Lake and worked my way toward Gar Lake. After seeing a few splashes on the surface ahead of me, I tied on the rope lure that Olaf gave me last year, hoping to catch my first gar with the hookless lure that is used to catch gar and only gar. I put in about 100 casts with the rope lure, but gave up after not getting any hits. I wanted to stretch my legs and fish from shore, so I pulled my kayak out of the water at a nice secluded spot.
Once on shore, I set up one rod with a locally sourced shiner on a #6 circle hook under a weighted float, and put in a few more casts with the rope lure with the other. My float disappeared under the water, but by the motion of it I assumed it wasn't a gar. It turned out to be a very ambitious white crappie.
White Crappie (Pomoxis annularis)
You can see from their mouth shape why people catch them so easily with jigs.
At this point a thunderstorm rolled in. Thunder and lightning, torrential rain, and gusts of wind, the whole bit. I flipped my kayak upside down and put my tackle box under it to stay dry. At first I enjoyed the rain... then I felt like a tough guy for enduring it... but finally I just felt miserable. It was a relief when it ended. I baited up both my rods with shiners on circle hooks and played the waiting game. A big fish took one of them on a run, but after a few seconds it came off, taking the shiner with it. A little later, I had another take, and this time the fish was securely on! I kept the drag loose and played the fish as carefully as possible. My lifer longnose gar, and a big one at that!
Longnose Gar (Lepisosteus osseus) - new hook & line species #239
The gar measured 48 inches exactly, and was moderately cooperative as I made my first attempt to photograph myself holding a fish using the 10 second delay on my camera. The photo above was actually the first one I took, and I'm surprised that it tuned out the best. I'm glad I have this picture rather than one of it lying on the ground.
There have been several occasions where I catch a new lifer and then promptly pack up my gear and head home. This was one of those occasions. I packed up the kayak and paddled back to my car with a smile on my face. Alligator gar, I have my sights on you!