Wayne with a Large Gar

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Waynes Leg After Being Bitten by a Gar
  Gar Fishing Without Lefty by Gary M. McCown, DDS

I just finished reading Lefty Kreh’s (2008) biography, “My Life Was This Big”.  It was very good and I actually learned some things I didn’t know about fly fishing even though this was not promoted as an instructional book about fly fishing.  It was a book about Lefty’s life experience in fishing.

Lefty dedicated several chapters to different species of fish and why he enjoyed fishing for each one.  He covered everything from bluegill to bluefish and also most everyone and everywhere he had fished.

His “big life” is impressive and although I will never have a chance to do all that he has, I’ve had a good time with good friends and my fly rod.

A couple of the most interesting quotes from Lefty in the book are:

“A good fly fisherman usually does better than a good spinning fisherman when fishing a smallmouth river.” 

In my experience, a good fly fisher can do better than most other methods on a river but fishing deep in lakes, other methods will out fish a fly rod.

The second quote I liked so much was: 

“Nobody ever suffered a heart attack fighting a freshwater trout.”

I do know of one older fly fisherman who died in his float tube on the Hiawassee but there was no report of a trout attached to his line.  So I suspect he only died of a heart attack in extreme happiness.

In Chapter 17:  Fish I have Known, Lefty lists his favorite fresh and saltwater quarries (including accounts of each one):

Freshwater:  Smallmouth bass, Largemouth bass, Bluegill, Northern Pike, Salmon and Trout (in that order).

Saltwater:  Peacock Bass, Striped Bass, Billfish, Bluefish, Bonefish, Redfish, Tarpon, Tuna and Shark.

I agree with smallmouth bass at the top of the list.

But he left out the second one on my list.  Longnose Gar!

I have caught three gar this year.  One I tried to grab up into the boat and it almost took my shoulder out of joint.  I dropped it, grabbed the leader with my left “ungloved” hand and it promptly snapped 10 pound test.  I should have been using 20 or 30 pound test but I had just switched off from bass fishing.

July 5th this year I was fishing with longtime friend, Wayne Everbach, on Lake Chickamauga below Watts Bar Dam.  We probably cast over fifty gar between 3 and 4 feet long.  I missed several good chances but it is not easy to catch these prehistoric creatures on a rope streamer with no hook.

Anyway, Wayne finally “hooked” a nice one close to 4 feet long and “Katy bar the door!”

After two deep runs and a ten minute fight, Wayne finally got his gloves on and after three tries, got the fish onto the back of the boat.

“What do I do now?”  yelled Wayne.

“You are on your own dude!”  I replied as I pitched him my rusty old screwdriver with instructions to just “put it between his jaws so he can’t bite you and work the ‘streamer’ out” of his teeth. 

The gar lay still while he did that.  Then all hell broke loose.  Wayne did a ballet dance on the boat, avoiding his fly rod but not gar teeth.  His leg and ankle were bleeding.

He finally held the fish up for a couple of quick photos and tossed it back into the lake, collapsed onto the boat and said, “Whew, safe again!”

Wayne and I would be happy to take Lefty gar fishing.  His instructions for shark fishing will work for gar.  We just don’t use hooks.  If he doesn’t have a heart attack, maybe Lefty will add another chapter to his book.

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