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Fishing with Capt. Gus: Garfish put up quite a fight when hooked

The first time a casual observer gets a glimpse of a garfish, visions of snakes, gators and lake monsters come to mind.
The long cylindrical fish, with a snout full of teeth, does indeed resemble a sea serpent of sorts. What makes it look even more like a creature, are the dark-green diamond shaped scales that create the illusion of a finned snake denizen of the deep.
When sunning, a gar appears to be sluggish and lifeless, but when hungry, it is quick to ambush its prey. First, it immobilizes the prey with a slashing motion of its snout, and then it shreds and eats it with needle-like teeth. Bass, crappie and perch are fair game for this predator that lives on area lakes and grows to lengths over 3 feet.
During the spawning season (May thru July), it is not unusual to see a very large female gar being followed by several smaller males. At times, they are so close to one another that they appear to be one very long fish. Daisy chaining, as it is called, often results in reports from anglers of seeing fish over 10 feet long ó a possible reason for many alligator/monster sightings on Lake Norman.
Garfish have the power in their long bodies to test most freshwater tackle. Sometimes, they hit artificial lures. Most, however, are caught with either live or dead baits while fishing for other species. The most popular local baits are live shad and fresh-cut bream.
A hooked gar will put up a gallant battle and is known for its exhilarating runs. On occasion, they leap from the water while attempting to throw the hook. Care should be taken when unhooking the long nosed gar with its mouthful of needle sharp teeth.
The white meat of a garfish is popular in Louisiana and other Gulf Coast states, but is not considered good table fare in other regions. The roe is toxic and should not be eaten under any circumstances.
The largest long nose gar taken in North Carolina waters weighed 19 pounds, 10 ounces.
Garfish are usually found swimming near boat docks and in the back of shallow coves during the warmer months of the year.
Lake Norman is currently 2.2 feet below full. Water surface temperature is in the high 80s to low 90s.

Visit www.fishingwithgus.com or call Gus Gustafson at 704-489-0763, or e-mail him at Gus@LakeNorman.com.

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