I had made two other trips to the refuge searching for that big bite. The first trip I caught a few small ones but I couldn't get the big ones to chase. The second trip, I had a few follows and moved a few larger ones. The only really good hook up came loose after a moment. In all the commotion, I missed the clouds forming and got caught in a storm. Not a great experience!
|Landed on my shoulder at the launch on the last day...I felt it was a sign!|
On the third trip, I decided to bring a secret weapon, a rope fly. I know it's somewhat controversial for the purist but let's be honest. I'm in a kayak, it was another 6 mile round trip paddle in temps reaching the upper 90's, I was only taking shots at gar 4' or larger, and really...a "gar fly purist?"
|Finally a big rise and a quick shot|
When I arrived, the gar were in the same area popping on top. The water clarity was 1-1.5 feet, so you only get a second to get a fly in front of your target. Most of the action I saw was from small gar. I knew I would only get a shot at a few really large gar over the next few hours. I could see them working the area but it's like that kids game where you try to hit the prairie dog on the head before he dives back in his hole. There's no way to predict where they'll come up next. Just stay ready...
|About to lift off|
My patience finally paid off and I saw a big gar within my range. A quick shot and it worked. The gar had eaten the rope, no way it actually WORKED! So here's where it gets interesting. Big fish with teeth and limited working space make for a tense situation. These guys like to lunge and jump, waving their sharps all around the side of the kayak. I eventually got the toothy critter in the kayak. I didn't have gloves or a way to open its mouth. I had to cut the rope out, effectively ruining my only rope fly. I was skeptical and only tied one.
|The kayak is 12 ft.|
Going back to my traditional flies for the rest of the trip. Another 2 hours passed before I saw a huge gar circling some bait about 30 feet from me. In the water it looked massive. It ate and on its first run came right to the kayak and confirmed my suspicions, it was massive! Then it dove down and just pulled me for 50 yards. When it came back up it had a friend.
|Sharp teeth will cut you|
I played the game for 10 minutes and felt like I might be able to get it in the kayak. The first attempt failed. It was way too heavy and when it started thrashing I felt like the kayak was going to flip. I went for it again and got burned! No hero shot with this dude, he took the fly and a piece of me with him.