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Believe it or not, fly fishing for trout can get old.  Sometimes I have to go looking for something bigger, or at least different.  I have even been known to play golf in the last couple of years.  A camo shirt helps because I spend so much time in the rough.  And my specialty is hitting into the water.

Recently my fly fishing friends have questioned my mental stability.  Fly fishing is supposedly therapeutic.  Golfing is a symptom of needing some serious therapy.  But with all the trout streams practically dried up, I had an excuse for going off the deep end.

Most of my fishing buddies have kept their distance, and a cautious eye on me.  A couple of them (closet golfers themselves) have played a few rounds with me for the entertainment value.  Rick Blackburn just goes out and methodically beats the crap out of me on the golf course just like he does on the stream.  He already knows I’m crazy, so an extra flight of fancy doesn’t bother him.

Gary with Large Gar

Gary learned how to catch very large gar on a fly.


Back to the point of all this, maybe my sanity is creeping back because I have found a new thrill with the long rod.  That’s what I love anyway, fly fishing.  Not just trout fishing.  I’ve always enjoyed catching different species of fish on a fly rod.  Besides, I cut my teeth on bluegill and bass before I graduated into the upper eschelons of trout fishing.  Just as most of you did too, I imagine.

Anyway, I’ve sort of gotten into seeing how many different types of fish I can catch on a fly rod.  Shad (river herring), rock bass, white bass (stripe), black bass (largemouth), brown bass (smallmouth, maybe the ultimate fly rod quarry), crappie, mooneye and upteen other panfish.  Even carp.  This summer I added a six pound channel catfish.  But the latest thing is gar fishing!

Don’t hang up on me now.  John Gierach in his book, Even Brook Trout Get the Blues, devotes a whole chapter to gar fishing so he must have a clue what I’m talking about.

I quote Gierach:  “How could you call yourself a fisherman and not want to go try and catch one of these things, especially when you hear, in a roundabout way, that they can be taken on a fly rod?”  He said “He’d fished all over the world, in both fresh and salt water, and that he’d never caught anything that fought like a big longnose gar.”

Well, I’m here to tell you its true.  The last Saturday in August, my son, Paul, and I got out the bass boat, complete with a full complement of spinning, casting and fly rods to go bass fishing on Watts Bar Lake.  It is still too hot and the bass weren’t biting in daylight at least.  So we motored up to Ft. Loudon Dam to try the striper fishing (haven’t landed one of those on a flyrod yet).  We struck out there too.      

Heading back toward the Loudon boat ramp, I decided to try a “smallmouth bank” I know.  I did pick up one 12 inch smallie on a crawdad Wee-R.  Then we saw them.  GAR!  Whole schools of them along the bank.  Paul immediately cut up a piece of soft nylon rope and proceeded to make a “fly” with nothing but a strand of frayed nylon rope and some copper wire. 

And the fish hit it.  The technique is slower than fishing a rubber worm.  Basically, the longer the gar chews on the rope fly, the more likely his teeth will get tangled in it.  Then you just slowly tighten up on the line and hang on for the fight of your life.

We got three in the boat and weren’t sure we wanted to stay with one that was about 40 inches.  These fish ranged from 4 to 6 pounds and Paul “hooked” one that probably would have topped ten pounds.  We’re going back.

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