Illinois Native Gar in the Legislature

Final update, June 2016 The resolution passed the House and Senate unanimously and the DNR has resumed (or will soon resume) the stocking of Alligator Gar in Illinois. Fingers crossed that there will be research into whether limits on gar killing are appropriate in some locations. Update, April 19 The Ag & Conservation Committee has adopted the resolution with a 13-0 vote. Thank you to everyone who registered support for this legislation. All our names… Continue reading

Gar Peril! Iowa, 1912

A man with a fish stuck in his eye.

Browsing old newspapers for interesting fish stories, I uncovered a very brief item of massive importance and interest. That this has remained hidden so long may be evidence of a cover-up (though there is, as yet, no way to know how high this goes). There are, in this single sentence, more stories than young Edward himself might have wanted us to find. If you have ever seen Jeremy Wade get so worked up over the… Continue reading

Halloween Fish Geekery

A few years ago, I created (in photoshop, not pumpkin flesh) a Norther Hog Sucker jack-o-lantern. I’ve felt like a bad person ever since, knowing that a real fish geek would have carved a real fish pumpkin. No longer! This year I bought a pumpkin with the right shape, I kept it inside so squirrels wouldn’t damage it, and I studied gar anatomy. Last night, I hooked up the electrodes to the lightning rods atop… Continue reading

Shortnose Gar Bonanza! (includes underwater video)

  The Spot There’s this spot. It’s on a river. Tough to get to: a long hike in wet grass, a rocky downhill, slipping in mud and stumbling and rolling on loose stones. Poison ivy everywhere. Trail barely visible unless you know where to look. Then you get to the river, where you slip and trip some more, and lots more poison ivy. Most of that is not exaggerated much. You won’t like it, even… Continue reading

Garz! (In hoc signo…)

A neon sign that says "GARZ."

Passed this sign the other day on the way to a river with a good population of Shortnose Gar (I still can’t get used to the idea that it’s now the accepted practice to capitalize common names, but I’m trying). The plan was to catch some. The sign seemed to promise me success. (In hoc signo vinces, right?) The obvious promise was broken.   As long as I’m posting signs of the coming of The… Continue reading

Gar Accomplished: all 5 US species

Contact with gar fires me up in a way no other group of fish does, and I know I’m not alone in appreciating these fish. The reaction they ignite in me is located somewhere deeper than the feelings touched off by more recently arrived fishes like trout, bass, or even suckers. It’s been said before by others who have found themselves addicted to these fish: they’re dinosaurs, dragons, pure predators, living fossils. For me it… Continue reading

Illinois Gar Summit I, Feb. 2014

Illinois Gar Summit I, 2014: Bill Meyer, Olaf Nelson. Solomon David and a cenury-old (plus) Alligator Gar in the deepest recesses of the Field Museum in Chicago.

After months of hopeful but vague discussion about getting together to talk gar (and other cool fish), three of the most gar obsessed citizens of Illinois finally managed to meet at the end of February. Solomon David, Postdoctoral Research Associate at the Shedd Aquarium (and see primitivefishes.com), hosted Bill Meyer (founder of garfishing.com and the Gar Angler’s Sporting Society [GASS]) and me for a full day of fish nerding. We enjoyed a tour behind the… Continue reading

J. K. Rowling: Closet Roughfisher? Secret Gar Message Hidden in Harry Potter

J. K. Rowling loves gar. Big gar. She probably thought no one would notice this subliminal plug for the dark art of fishing for big gar, but roughfishers are good at noticing things where others see nothing. (From Harry Potter and the Sorceror’s Stone.) Make the gar nice and long, indeed.   Continue reading

Another Gar and Roughfish podcast to download (not me this time!)

Want to hear what it means to talk without ambiguity about something you really love? Doing his part in our ongoing effort to storm the halls of fishing power and supplant the trout and bass overlords, Garman appeared recently on the same public radio outdoors show I was on a couple weeks ago. He is much more entertaining than I was. I promise. Download it here: Thanks again to Dale Bowman for the coverage and… Continue reading

Gar and suckers (and me) on the radio (and iTunes) today

As if the newspaper article about my deviant fishing tastes and the alligator gar I caught wasn’t enough, today a radio show is being broadcast on the same subjects. I was actually allowed to sit in a recording studio and talk for half an hour about my thoughts on fish, fishing, and more. After a week of imagining all the stupid things I might have said and strange sounds I might have made, I’m relieved… Continue reading

Gator Gar in the Newspaper!

If you have access a copy of the Chicago Sun-Times from Wednesday, Sep. 25, 2013, ignore the front page (mass shooting, corruption trial, food festival) and skip immediately to page 65. (If you happen to be my mom, I’ll send you a copy.) The headline: “Gator (gar) in the house.” Try not to look at the small mugshot. Focus on the words and the bigger photo. It’s also online: http://www.suntimes.com/sports/outdoors/22773269-452/brookfield-man-lands-first-alligator-gar-in-illinois-since-1966.html Who would have guessed that… Continue reading

Gar fans, take a look at these sites

Two gar- and bowfin-related sites I found a few days ago are worth looking at if you’ve caught that particular sickness. Both are run by Solomon David, currently a postdoctoral research associate at the Daniel P. Haerther Center for Conservation & Research at the John G. Shedd Aquarium and jointly at the University of Wisconsin-Madison Center for Limnology. (I took that text straight from the About page of one of the sites.) Tropical gar at… Continue reading

Catching gator gar, making history

In 1966, at the very southern tip of Illinois, a 7 foot, 150 pound alligator gar was caught on hook and line. There are no records of any being caught (by any method) in the state after that. 1966. Three  years before I was born. No one had been to  the moon yet. Computers that couldn’t even send offers of cheap Canadian pharmaceuticals or display low-resolution pornography were the size of Econoline vans and required… Continue reading

New World Record Buffalo (and maybe a World Record Gar) in Texas

Lots of amazing fish being caught in TX recently. David G. and his brother got into some monster fish, including big alligator gar, huge smallmouth buffalo and what might have been a world record longnose gar at 61 inches and an estimated weight (based on length and girth) of 49.6 pounds. The world record, which some say is probably a hybrid longnose/alligator, is 50 pounds and change. The brothers G didn’t have a scale, so… Continue reading