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4 Best Ways to Catch Gar Fish

The toothy members of the gar family garner hatred from many anglers, but catching one on rod and reel is one of freshwater fishing's greatest thrills. (Keith Sutton photo)
The toothy members of the gar family garner hatred from many anglers, but catching one on rod and reel is one of freshwater fishing's greatest thrills. (Keith Sutton photo)

Despite the hatred often aimed at them, gar are noteworthy opponents on rod and reel if you know where to fish for them and the best baits to use

Gar are powerful fish and jump like tail-hooked tarpon when hooked. Landing a true heavyweight is one of freshwater fishing’s most exciting challenges.

Besides the monstrous alligator gar and little Florida gar, which are restricted to a few small areas of the country, anglers can pursue longnose, shortnose and spotted gar, which are widespread and abundant in waters from Canada to Mexico. Here are tips to help you catch them.

When and Where to Find Gar

The hot summer months serve up gar fishing at its finest. In good waters, you’ll have little trouble finding fish. They’re usually rolling noisily near the surface, especially near dawn and dusk and at night. A lung-like air bladder allows them to gulp air to aid the gills in breathing.

Gar inhabit all types of waters from small creeks to giant impoundments, but some of the best fishing is in oxbow lakes, bayous and sluggish delta rivers. Flowing water hotspots include lock and dam tailwaters, outside stream bends, sandbar/river channel abuttals, quiet backwater pools and the mouths of in-flowing tributaries. On lakes, fish in shallow reaches near the edges of woody and weedy cover.

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