The Gar Pike
It was summer 2009, in Parry Sound on Georgian Bay. My family had rented at a cottage at a nice resort with good fishing. We took the boat out one night to a small bay to try out some new lures we had recently bought. While casting, we noticed a few fish that were skimming the top of the water. Although I couldn't tell the exact fish, I did notice that it had a leopard type skin. I had never seen such a colour on a fish before! We tried for over 3 hours to try to catch one of these "leopard" fish but had no success.
We came back the next night with live minnows, hoping that this mystery fish would go for the minnows. First minnow out, we had a fish on the line, and what came to the boat on the other end of the line shocked me...
Credit: Nick Piekarz
This fish was just over 3 feet, and weighed 7 pounds. The catch of a lifetime!
Background Information On The Gar
There are a total of 5 species of Gar Pike that inhabit North America, while another 2 species are located in Central America, and the Caribbean Islands. They include the Alligator Gar, Cuban Gar, Tropical Gar, Spotted Gar, Longnose Gar, Shortnose Gar, And Florida Gar.
One point that makes the Gar Pike so interesting is the age of the Gar family. Fossils from it's extended family (Lepisosteiformes) are known to be from the late Cretaceous period.
Gar Pike are usually slow moving fish except when hunting and striking their prey. They prefer weedy areas in lakes and rivers and are often found in small groups. They are ferocious predators, as they tear their prey apart with their needle like teeth and long jaw. Gar's often feed on smaller fish, and other things like crabs and crayfish.
They can reach a length of up to 5 feet and weigh over 50 pounds in some species, but the Alligator Gar can grow up to 10 feet and weigh over 300 pounds.
Gar flesh is edible, and is sometimes sold at markets, but their eggs are considered to be toxic. Most of the Gar species are sold as great aquarium fish.Credit: flyaddicts.com
Fishing For Gar
Fishing for Gar Pike can be extremely tricky as their small, long jaw makes it hard to set a hook. They will strike any lure that resembles a minnow or small bait fish, including topwater baits. Live baits such as minnows or shiners also work great.
Make sure to always use needle nose pliers when removing the hook, as their razor sharp teeth can do some major damage!