You’ve heard of bass, trout, salmon, walleye, and even bluegill, but there are many other incredibly unique species of fish that you could angle out for. One of the best examples of this would have to be the Longnose Gar. This fish species has largely remained unchanged for the last fifty million years, so you can rest assured that long before you were trying to catch this elusive specimen, there were duck-billed dinosaurs roaming these same banks during the Cretaceous period that were every bit as dumbfounded as you are! Of course, once you’ve (accidentally) caught this captivatingly strange fish, you want to do so again. The problem is that this fish seems to defy all of the rules. But where there’s a will, there’s a way. If you want to have your taken with one of these elusive creatures. you have to understand their habits, their anatomy, and the focus of this article, which will be the best bait you need in order to catch them. Let’s take a look at their anatomy first:
Definitely recommend when fishing for gar, use a hook and live bait. Gar will be easiest to catch this way. So what bait to use? Try minnows, goldfish (if legal in your area) or perch. These will give you the best chance at getting a gar.
Gar literally have the longest nose on a fish you’ve ever seen in your life, hence the name “longnose.” First of all, the longnose gar has a mouth that is very long, narrow, and bony, and my apologies for being a bit tongue-in-cheek here, but the design literally almost resembles a Simpsons character. However, once you get past your laughing and snickering, you start to realize that there is going to be some very unique challenges to catching this fish because of their anatomy. First of all, the longnose doesn’t do well with fish hooks. They literally have to go very deep into this fish’s mouth; otherwise the hook will either break off your line completely or the fish will get away.
You also have to take other considerations into account because of this fish’s bony mouth. Namely, their behavior regarding bait is going to be much different as well. One of the things that most fish will do is to immediately strike at the bait that you cast out. However, this is the first area in which you will have to adapt in regards to the longnose gar. For starters, they will treat their bait differently than other fish. Instead of striking at it quickly and suddenly, the longnose gar will bite it and then chew it for an extended period of time. In all honesty, they will usually carry on with this behavior for a surprisingly long period as well. Of course, if you are looking to land some longnose gar, there are other things you should be aware of before we even get into the bait. Consider the following:
Naturally, hopefully we have established just how unique the longnose gar is among the long list of fish that you can catch. However, you should be aware of something else regarding the longnose gar: simply put, you need to make your cast count. Consider the following elements:
Patience is the key.
If you are fishing for breeds such as longnose gar will require you to act according to their terms. They will generally follow most baits you throw at them, but they will take their own sweet time in attacking it. You will need to slow reel in your lure just past their line of vision and let them follow it for several yards.
Fish for them by sight.
One of the best (read: only) ways to fish for longnose gar would be to fish for them by sight. Thus, when you spot that characteristic long nose on this gar, you should cast your line out just past the dorsal fin of the gar. Moreover, you should use polarized sunglasses when you are out on the water, simply because they will reduce glare and make most images sharper and clearer. Make sure you are constantly scanning your eyes both on the outside of the boat and on the sides of the boat too.
Be as accurate as possible with all of your casts.
If you specifically target longnose gar, you have to be as accurate as possible. They will usually strike your bait or lure if it is cast out just past the lure of the fish and adjacent to their body. Make sure your bait or lure is at the optimum amount of six to eight inches past the side of the fish.
Also, when you throw out your cast, you need to make sure you remember that the longnose gar is a reactive striker. They will usually float quietly while their prey swim by, then they will aim their jaws sideways so they get an easy meal.
Best bait for the gar.
Now, it’s time for us to get on to the bait. There are several examples of bait that will appeal to longnose gar, and this is definitely a time to get as technical as possible. Consider some of these pointers when selecting the best bait for your next longnose gar trophy picture:
Take a good look at your lures.
There are several specialized lures that you can use in order to land the perfect longnose gar. First of all, one of the best lures would be the crankbait. These types of lures are normally used for bass, but they can do double-duty quite well for longnose gar. The lures are usually three to four inches in length and ideally they should run just below the surface of the water for maximum effectiveness. Choosing a bright color on one of these lures is an excellent decision; like all other fish longnose gar are absolutely attracted to brightly-colored items.
Of course, along these same lines, there are definitely some flipping sticks that you should be aware of as well. Your best option would be to use a 7.5 foot flipping stick if you want to appropriately tackle the gar you come across. This large option for a flipping stick will absolutely be powerful enough to take on these gar, who are well-known not only for their unique anatomy, but also for fighting the lures tooth and nail. Your braid line should be in either the 50-pound or 60-pound bracket; you often can even use these without a leader if you so desire.
Other lures you can look at would be the ones that are specially catered just for the longnose gar’s habits and personality. These lures are usually characterized by hookless apparel that will simply get stuck in the teeth of the longnose gar. These lures are usually called “rope flies”, and they most often are homemade; many readily available materials can be pressed into use.
One good example of a solid rope fly for a longnose gar would be a design where the rope strands are attached to a hook or jig and then you simply have the hook cut off at the bend as well. You also should attach a rubber-core sinker or a split-shot, making the fly weighted. This gives it the ability to cast much more easily. Another reason why many swear by weighting down the fly is because it will give your rod a more solid up-and-down action, making it much easier to catch fish within the water.
Another rope fly you could use would be one that consists of a quarter-inch nylon rope, cut with a center core and having the individual strands unbraided. The nylon strands will usually extend out about twice the length of the fly, and you can put this whole creation through a ring with a threader from one of those sewing machine bobbins. Another advantage to using nylon for your homemade fly is that it will allow you to get creative. You can easily add the color from a permanent marker if you are looking for a fancier shade and for a better way to attract these picky gar.
Finally, yet another popular rope fly can be constructed by cutting a 3 to 6-inch piece of nylon rope (preferably 3/8′ in size) and thread it into a hook shank, wrapping it into a jighead, hook, or a spinner bait that you would use in place of a worm. You should fuse this rope together with a flame, making a hook shank. Finally, you should make sure the melted rope is completely covered over by a braided line or thread. You can use epoxy to make the line as durable as possible, allowing for multiple casts into the water. Place the nylon strands at the top of the head of your homemade bait, then you will be off to the races. This bait will be just what the fishing pro ordered, as it will get tangled in the teeth of the gar, impeding its snout and allowing you to reel it in.
Although it is difficult, you can also use hooks for bait when you are fishing for gar. However, because of the gar’s long bony mouth and their lack of flesh, this could prove to be difficult. However, there are ways that you can do it. First of all, you could hook up a baitfish with either a #6 or #2 treble hook set or floating rig. Usually, what will happen is that the gar will grab up this bait sideways and they will take it and try to swim on their merry way. Yet again, this is a situation where patience is the key. You need to wait until the gar tries to follow the bait, then you should proceed to firmly set your hook. You will usually have the best luck with a quick-strike lure or rig consisting of a multiple treble hook. If you are going to throw the fish back, you want to make sure they don’t incur an injury because of your hook. However, this is an easy thing to happen when you are fishing for gar, so many gar anglers avoid hooks entirely.
Believe it or not, you also can employ wire snares such as the ones used to catch rabbits for your gar fishing activities. You would start by getting part of a two-foot stainless steel wire and wrapping the end around a barrel swivel. You would utilize the free portion of the wire and put it through a lively baitfish, preferably just above the dorsal fin. Then you should swing the free portion of this wire back toward the swivel portion. Make a loose loop that will slide easily through the leading part. After tying your main line directly toward the swivel, you are now ready to cast your rig into the shallow portion of the water. A gar will usually grab the bait quickly, as this will be accompanied by a firm pull and then the snare will tighten around their beak.
Finally, you can use jugs as a good bait source in order to catch gar as well. If you have ever been in the deep south and came across a piece of PVC pipe or a sturdy branch attached to a large soda bottle, then you have just come across an amateur fisherman’s fishing tools. They will usually have a 2-foot wire attached to the other part of the branch. On the other end, there will be a large hook that is baited with cutbait or livebait. You will often see several fleets of these jugs on a large river on a given night in many parts of the country. After these items are drifted across shallow flats, they will usually attract some of these gar who will proceed to swallow the bait. Immediately after this the angler will grab the pipe or limb and then reel in the fish.
With a little bit of knowledge, persistence, and trial-and-error, you will definitely find the right bait option for all of your angling needs. There is no question that the longnose gar is a challenging specimen to try to catch, from their long, boney nose to their unusual intelligence. But what these immense amounts of bait options, you will surely find the right option for you.