By Jeremy Pyle
Every now and again, you get to tell a good fish story. Sometimes, it sounds real and sometimes it sounds completely made up. Maybe it could have been a fish, other times it could have just as easily been a rock, or a stick “fish”. But when you get that fish to shore, THAT is when the real fish story starts.
Lake Hefner, Oklahoma, late May, 2020. With all the cabin fever from the pandemic and with all the lock-downs ending, it seems that just about everyone is starting to get out of the house. Fishing departments and bait shops are left with bare shelves. People are out fishing left and right. It is awesome to witness in this day and age that seems dominated by smartphones and Netflix. It was somewhat difficult to find a spot on the crowded Hefner Dam to fish. But we got to our spot and put the lines in the water. The best bait, in my opinion, is cut bluegill or “perch” as some call them here in Oklahoma. They also are called sunfish, or brim. But with bait on, the exciting night commenced.
We had several bites and caught several fish throughout the night. Jay Hubbard caught a 5 pound Walleye. Mike Quici was heard screaming “it’s got teeth” as he netted him and pulled it from the water. At one point, a couple guys even stopped and offered us six catfish caught over a couple hours time on red worms. The fishing was pretty good all in all.
It was about 11 p.m. when the bell on the end of the pole started jingling. The pole was a little tiny pink bass pole, being used for catfish with a big hook and bait. Valerie Hubbard picked up her pole and started reeling, but the fight was on. Water thrashing, pole bent nearly in half she fought that fish for nearly fifteen minutes. It’s exciting when you hear a big fish pulling line out.
After she finally landed the fish, we got a good chance to inspect the catch. We could tell right away it was a gar. About 10 pounds. It had a broad snout. Interesting. Completely covered in scales, like body armor, and teeth sticking everywhere out of the edges of its mouth, we really had to be careful handling it. But what kind of gar is it? I have seen several longnose or “needle-nose” gar as some people call them, but this was clearly not that. And it is pretty darn big to be a shortnose or even a spotted gar. This would clearly be a monster if it was one of those species. After doing some research, we have narrowed it down to only a few possible types of fish. A shortnose gar, a spotted gar, or else a Juvenile Alligator Gar.
Here are a few facts about gars. Lake Hefner is not listed as actually having ANY gars in it, so currently there are no lake records for gar in the lake. I know they are in there because you can see them swimming parallel to shore at night when you shine a spotlight. Also, besides the Alligator Gar, most gar don’t really get all that big. The world record shortnose gar caught on rod and reel is 8 pounds 3 ounces caught in October, 2010 by George Pitttman Sr. in Missouri. The world record spotted gar caught on rod and reel weighed in at 9 pounds 12 ounces and was caught by Rick Rivard in Texas back in 1994. With that bit of info, if it was either type of fish, it would be the new world record. I don’t personally believe it was either.
My money says it was a Juvenile Alligator Gar. Which is exciting and also a bit unnerving…I mean, if there are Juvenile Alligator Gars in those waters, well that means momma and papa Alligator Gar are out there too. We put the fish back, so we will never really know.
But, on the bright side, there are 3 possibilities for YOU the avid fisherman. You could catch a world record shortnose or spotted gar, because he is still in there. Or even better you could hook into a monster Alligator Gar. Tight Lines! Enjoy your fishing.
As always thanks for reading this week’s Oklahoma Catfish Report. Send me pictures of your exciting catches at email@example.com. And don’t forget to like our facebook pages Yukon Progress, and Piedmont-Surrey Gazette to get the newest updates and stories.