The best time of the year in my experience is July through August. The hotter, the better, and the less rainfall the better. We look for big bends in the river with a deep hole. It is even better if the water above and below the hole is shallow. These gator gar congregate in these deeper holes.
We use cut bait such as carp, buffalo, and large perch. Our 330 Penn reels are spooled with a minimum of 40 lb. test line with a 24" steel leader. We hook the cut bait on a 6/0 treble hook and cast to the deeper part of the channel. The bait is free floating with the spool open and the clicker on.
When we hear the clicker go off we go and gently pick up the rod and turn the clicker off to allow the fish to take line easier. We believe that the reason these fish run with the bait is to get away from the other gar to eat his catch. Sometimes they may pull of 100 to 200 yards of the line on your spool, but be patient. If you set the hook too early the hook may not be in the softer area of his mouth yet. After the fish stops, engage the spool, reel in all of the slack line and when you feel tension on the line, set the hook as hard as you can. With so much line out you must set the hook more than once to ensure a good penetrating hook set. Then the fight is on! Make sure your drag is set correctly or you might get pulled in the water.
You can release the smaller fish by getting the hook out, but the bigger fish must be released by cutting the leader.
Editorís Note: Though in a few areas alligator gar are common, as a species their numbers are dwindling. Their range over the past 50 years has greatly diminished due primarily to habitat loss and over-harvest. Many fisheries biologists recommend a halt to commercial fishing for these unique creatures. In addition, they recommend releasing all alligator gar caught with rod and reel. Measures like these are necessary to insure that this distinctive species remains.
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