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Do you want to test your fishing skills by fishing for alligator gar? Would you like to learn how to catch alligator gar? Gar grows to a very large fish and it is not uncommon to find some that weigh 100 pounds. Fishing for gar can be challenging as it is hard to target.
Catching alligator gar will put your fishing skills as well as your patience to the test. In this article, we discuss fishing for gar to help you catch this pre-historic looking fish.
Table of Contents
- 1 Where Can I Find Alligator Gar
- 2 How To Catch Alligator Gar
- 3 1. Bowfishing
- 4 2. Fly Fishing
- 5 3. Rod and Reel
- 6 4. Topwater Fishing
- 7 5. Jug Fishing
- 8 6. Limblines
- 9 7. Trotlines
- 10 Alligator Gar Tackle
- 11 Best Bait For Alligator Gar
- 12 Alligator Gar Fishing Tips
- 13 The Bottom Line
Where Can I Find Alligator Gar
Gar is usually found in slow-moving, brackish waters. It can also be found in ponds, lakes, rivers, and creeks. Gar can also be found in the salt waters of the Gulf Coast.
Gar will always move to the deeper areas of water bodies that are characterized by long, flat open spaces and a good flow.
Moreover, gar can also be found in areas where the water flow is stagnant and the oxygen levels are low. They can breathe air from the water’s surface using an organ that makes this possible. This explains how it lives a long life in stagnant ponds and lakes.
How To Catch Alligator Gar
There are many fishing methods that anglers use when fishing for gar. Some are bowfishing, rod and reel fishing, fly fishing, topwater fishing, and passive gear such as jug fishing, limblines, and trotlines.
Bowfishing is one fishing method anglers use when fishing for gar. Bowfishing involves using a bow and arrow to target and hit fish in the water. It is an easier fishing method than it appears. Most of the time bowfishing is done in clear and not too deep waters.
Bowfishing doesn’t require any high-tech fishing gear. Most of the time you can use the bow and arrow that you have at home. Bowfishing requires you to spot the fish and take a good shot remembering to take refraction into consideration.
It is regulated as a lethal method of fishing and the regulations state that when the fish is shot with an arrow, it can’t be released back into the water.
2. Fly Fishing
Fly fishing is another fishing method anglers use when catching alligator gar. Fly fishing requires more skills and more experienced anglers are found using fly fishing. It involves casting your flies and retrieving them until a fish bites and get hooked.
Anglers usually cast frayed rope-like streamer flies to gars that are on the surface of the water. When the gar strikes, the threads of the fly will get tangled in its teeth which will get it caught with the need for a hook.
3. Rod and Reel
A fishing rod and reel are also used when fishing for gar. Gar fishing with a rod and reel can be challenging and there is a learning curve to master this fishing method. A high quality fishing rod and reel will make it easier when using this fishing method to catch this fish.
4. Topwater Fishing
Topwater fishing involves using a topwater lure while fishing for gar. A baitfish imitation plug is cast in front of the gar on the surface of the water. Keep the lure still as the gar moves slowly towards the bait.
When the alligator gar is close to the lure, twitch the lure to keep the fish interested and it will go for the topwater lure. Then be prepared for a real fight on your hands.
Topwater fishing can be very effective when fishing for alligator gars as you will often find them close to the water’s surface preying on schools of baitfish.
5. Jug Fishing
Jug fishing uses lines suspended from floating jugs to catch fish such as alligator gar in lakes or rivers. It is an unlimited-class tackle method of fishing. Many jugs are used when jug fishing and in many states, an angler can use up to twenty.
Jug fishing, using juglines, is most common in the southern states. It involves a simple setup where lines are tied to jugs and weights are added to the line to keep the jug in one location.
There are regulations regarding jug fishing such as the number of jugs, the dates and times when jug fishing is allowed, as well as if it s even allowed. Alligator gar and catfish are some of the fish that are caught using jug fishing.
Another fishing method used by anglers when fishing for alligator gar is to use limblines. Limblines are fishing lines that hang from the limb of an overhanging tree. This setup is used to make it easy to catch an alligator gar and control it.
Anglers also use trotlines when fishing for alligator gar. It is a heavy fishing line with shorter, baited branch lines that suspends at intervals using clips or swivels with a hook at the free end of each snood.
Weights are often used at the end of snoods when setting up a trotline to keep them nearly below the water’s surface. However, trotlines are not legal in all states and you must know the fishing laws in the state you fish before using them.
Alligator Gar Tackle
A 7-8 foot rod with a spinning reel will work well when fishing for gar. Additionally, an 80-pound test braided line should be the least that you use when fishing for alligator gar. Use a 4/0 or 5/0 small hook or j hook. Some anglers go with a treble hook, although you can use a single hook.
Moreover, a cut-resistant or steel leader will be the best choice when fishing for alligator gar as they have very sharp teeth and can easily and quickly break a strong braided line. The steel leader should be about 30 inches long to prevent the alligator gar from snagging your main line.
Best Bait For Alligator Gar
Alligator gars eat a good number of baitfish that anglers can use as bait when fishing for gar. When gar fishing, look for schools of baitfish that seem to be felling a predator. Most times, it will be alligator gar in pursuit.
Common carp is one of the baits that many anglers use when fishing for alligator gar. It is usually cut into chunks to effectively fish for gar.
Freshwater mullet is another fish that works well as bait when fishing for alligator gar.
Shad works well as bait for gar and is one of the popular bait used by anglers.
4. Smallmouth Buffalo
Buffalo is also used as bait when fishing for alligator gar.
Tilapia is another fish that anglers use as bait to catch alligator gar.
Alligator Gar Fishing Tips
- Alligator gar spawns in brackish water in spring.
2. The best time to hunt for alligator gar is late summer when it is hot and dry at the end of June, July, and August.
3. Gar is sensitive to sound. Don’t use a motorboat as it will spook the fish. A rowboat or a drift boat is preferable.
4. Alligator gar can be found in slow-moving waters, “dead lakes”, creeks, lakes, rivers, and ponds.
5. The alligator gar is more actively feeding when the temperature is in the range of 70 to 90 degrees. They are more active on the surface of the water when the temperature rises to this level.
6. Bowfishing, fly fishing, jug fishing, topwater fishing, rod and reel, limblines, and trotlines are different fishing methods used by anglers when fishing for alligator gar.
7. A 7-8 foot fishing rod and a high-quality spinning reel will work.
8. Use a wire or cut-resistant leader line to withstand the sharp teeth. Alligator gar’s mouth is lined with very sharp teeth.
9. When using cut bait, use 4-inch chunks of cut carp or shad as bait.
10. Always give the alligator gar time to take the bait before setting the hook.
11. Always secure a rope around the head of the alligator gar when removing the hook.
12. When wrestling with the gar, work it to tire it out. This will reduce the strain on the line and allow you to eventually reel it in.
13. Common carp, mullet, shad, buffalo, and tilapia are some of the baits used when fishing for alligator gar.
14. Live bait cut up into chunks is the best bait to use when fishing for this fish.
15. Sometimes gar will drop your bait, just wait as most times, it will go for the bait.
16. When on a boat fishing for gar, keep an eye out for schools of baitfish. If you see baitfish breaking the water as if they are being pursued, chances are this fish is the predator.
17. Always cast your line to the deeper parts of the channel.
18. If this fish is hooked on your line, it will move fast across the water or dive deeper into the water. When this happens, lower your fishing rod towards the gar, and after the line pulls tight, wait around 10 seconds.
19. For hook removal, use cut-resistant gloves or long-handled pliers regardless of their size.
The Bottom Line
Fishing for alligator gar is a challenging and exciting experience. This is a very large fish with rows of sharp teeth. There are many fishing methods that are used by anglers such as fly fishing, topwater fishing, rod and reel, jug fishing, and bow fishing.
Live bait is the best bait to use when fishing for alligators, although other baits are also very effective. In this article, we have shared information on how to catch alligator gar.
If you are also interested in other fish, you can read how to catch Atlantic salmon, how to catch black grouper, how to catch arctic char, how to catch albacore tuna, how to catch tilefish, and how to catch cubera snapper.