Where to Find Alligator Gar – Alligator Gars are found today in warm bodies of water in the Southern region of the United States.
In the South, the fish can be seen throughout the lower Mississippi River Valley and in the following states: Georgia, Illinois, Texas, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Arkansas, North Carolina, Virginia, Alabama, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Tennessee, Missouri and Florida.
Historical records do show, however, that Alligator Gars once occupied northern regions in Ohio, central Kansas, Nebraska, west-central Iowa and Illinois. In the South today, they can be found living in large lakes, reservoirs, bayous, marshes, and small rivers. Though they generally live in freshwater, some have been found doing well in saltwater too. These unusual fish are capable of readily adapting to different environments.
How to Catch Alligator Gar – Some Gar experts suggest that the hottest time of year may be the best time of year to hunt these unique creatures – typically July through August. If fishing in a river, look for large bends with a deep hole. Alligator Gar often hang out in those deeper holes. Consider bait like large Perch, Carp, and/or Buffalo. One expert Gar fisherman suggests the following strategy for Alligator Gar fishing.
- Utilize a 6/0 treble hook for bait, and cast to a deep area, with bait free floating, spool open, and clicker on. Use a 330 Penn reel that is spooled with a 40 pound minimum test line with a 24″ steel leader.
- Cast the baited hook to a deep section of the channel.
- When the clicker goes off, lift up the rod gently and turn the clicker off. This allows the fish to easily access the line. Be patient because the Alligator Gar may pull as much as 100-200 yards of line.
- Engage the spool after the fish stops.
- Reel in the slack.
- Set the hook hard when there is tension on the line. This will have to be repeated since there is so much line out.
- The fight begins!!
- Ensure the drag is set correctly, so you don’t end up in the water.
This clip pretty much defies everything you just read. In it, a camo-clad, tatted fisherman practices catch and release with an alligator gar in a city canal. That’s right…a city canal!
Practicing Catch and Release with Alligator Gar – The population of Alligator Gar is declining. Fishermen are encouraged to utilize catch and release, so the population of this special fish can continue to grow. For each trophy size Alligator Gar that a fisherman kills, it will take anywhere from 30 to 75 years for another one to reach that large size. Fishermen will have a bit of time to take a great picture of the catch though. The Alligator Gar is able to briefly breathe air. When photographing, be sure to keep a close eye on the Gar’s belly and fins. When they began to turn red, the fish needs to be released back into the water. If the hook is stuck, cut the leader very close to the hook. It’s likely that it will eventually fall or rust out. If the Gar was gut hooked, the fish really needs to get back in the water as soon as possible. The Gar might even need to be revived: Hold the fish in the water, trying to get the gills moving until it swims away.