The alligator gar, one of the largest North American fishes, occasionally reaches a length of over 8 feet and tops 300 pounds. It inhabits deep holes below sand bars in the channels of slow-moving streams or rivers. Fishing for it on a hot, murky day in a southern river is slow business.
The Alligator Gar fights a rolling, jumping battle and can slash any line in seconds with the sharp edges of its teeth and armor-plated scales. To take this fish most anglers use heavy tackle plus about 15 feet of 50-pound test wire leader. Carp or drum serve as cut bait.
Experienced anglers know to be patient when the alligator gar chews on their bait and then grabs it, stripping off as much as 50 yards of line. The fish usually has the bait in its bony mouth at this time and a hook will only scrape out if one strikes now. After stopping its run, the gar will swallow the bait and begin to move again. This is the time to set the hook! The battle is on and it may last for an hour.
When the fish is tired and close to the boat; exercise extreme caution. This monster boated alive can make a wreck out of boat and angler. The jaws, studded with nail-sharp teeth can mutilate an arm or leg. Since the meat is not good to eat and the roe is poisonous, most anglers release this fish in the water by cutting the leader, being certain to keep their hands away from the jaws.
gars have the same type of diamond shaped scales. Gar scales are so hard that some Indian tribes used them for arrow tips. A relative of the Alligator Gar, the Longnose Gar is a cunning bait stealer in northern waters, but with a great deal of patience, can be caught.
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