Gars ‘n’ Gators

Most rivers here in the south have alligators and gar. My river is no different. We have three species of gar—spotted, needlenose and the big boy, alligator gar. I heard that someone caught an eight-foot alligator gar not long ago, upstream from here. They said it weighed 189 pounds. These big boys can hurt you just like an alligator. The only difference is they can’t chase you on dry land because of the lack of legs. They can see you and if you get too close, they will get you. If you happen to be in the water with a big one, they don’t need legs.

Needlenose gar are scarce, but they are around. They do not get as large as the more populous alligator gar, and they get up to five or six feet. Spotted gar are small and do not get much longer than three feet. There are quite a few of these. Gar are survivors because of primarily one reason, they have gills to breathe underwater, and they also have lungs to breathe air when there is little or no oxygen in the water. They can live in stagnant pools. All gar are decent eating if you cook them right. I don’t care for them much, but I’ve eaten a few. The tough part is cleaning the slimy critter.

There are too many alligators around here these days. They are good eating, but I don’t care for them either. There are better things to eat around here—catfish. Killing alligators is a regular event around the house. I don’t like to kill them because I don’t care to eat them, but it must be done. I tried to raise mallard ducks the past few years, but alligators got most of them. I shot one gator with one of my ducks in its mouth. That was a sad day.

We have blue crabs in the river in the late summer and early fall. They come up from the bay to grow up. Gar make good crab bait for use in our crab traps. Ellen likes to catch gar, and this works out great for me because we both love to eat crabs. Gar are more easily caught at night under a light. A couple nights this past week, Ellen kept me up until after midnight. I need my beauty sleep, lol. The crabs are worth it though. In addition to a few gar, she also caught two alligators. I’ll eat the crabs. Maybe we’ll serve the gator up to friends and neighbors.