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In Search of Alligator Gar on the Trinity River


Somewhere near the intersection of fishing, calf roping and steer wrestling is where you’ll find the full contact sport known as alligator gar fishing. I had the very good fortune to join my extremely adventurous friend Val (this was her idea) and my wife Kathy in Trinity Texas for a most unusual experience. There we met our guide, Captain Kirk of the Garship Enterprise—probably the most knowledgeable gar fisherman on this or any other planet. And you guessed it, we had a FAW-KINN-AE blast.

We spent two days fishing with Captain Kirk and had two completely different experiences.

Day 1 we were on Lake Livingston. Kirk picked us up at 6 am and we drove by a couple of fishing spots before settling on a Lake Livingston location. We sent out 8 lines. Each line included about 30 feet of 150 lb. braid with a treble hook and an “Andre the Giant fist” sized chunk of carp on one end. A floating plastic water bottle attached to an inflated white balloon (easier to see) tied on the other end. After watching those lines for a short time we left to look at another area nearby. The second area had numerous alligator gar rolling on the surface so we set out 3 lines there, went back and picked up the first 8 lines, and brought them back to spot number 2.

I wasn’t long before several of the white balloons could be seen racing across the lake. Fawkinnae this is going to be fun! The challenge at spot number 2, as we soon found out, was all the snags and stumps left from when the lake was created. The gar seemed especially skilled at wrapping our lines around these trees and breaking the heavy braid. Yup FAW-KINN-AE!

After several break offs we finally started catching gar. And the gar gods must have been smiling on us because each of us started off with a nice 20 - 25 pounder. A starter gar.

After our training gar, we got into still bigger gar, not the giants we knew were swimming under us but 75 - 80 pounders. This is where things went from interesting to crazy. Once the fish had been pulled up alongside the boat with the rod and reel, Captain Kirk lassoed the gar and pulled them in over the side of the boat. After some serious thrashing Kirk handed the reptile like fish into the arms of the proud but nervous fisherman. Then the fish were released to grow even bigger. Fawkinnae - that’s full contact fishing! Besides the 6 gar we caught we probably missed another half dozen. We quit about 2 pm and headed back to Kirk’s place, hot and tired but happy with our success.

Day 2 was a completely different experience. This time we fished below a dam on the Trinity River. There were quite a few fishermen around us, some fishing from the river bank, some in boats and some wading in the middle of the river. Our fishing technique was completely different from yesterday. This time we set 4 rods and reels up on the river bank, propped up by a pole that supported the rod but also had a slot where the line was placed. On the other end of the line was a large float again with a treble hook and giant chunk of carp. When a fish picked up the bait and ran with it, an electronic signal was sent to a monitor in the boat. While we waited for the monitor alarm to go off (just about every 15 minutes or so) we fished for carp from the boat to use as additional bait. It seemed like one or two of the alarms was always going off, but day 2 we were not able to get a fish in the boat.

Numerous crazy things happened to interfere with our catching. Multiple times some knucklehead on shore would cast over our line and scare the gar that had not yet swallowed the bait. Other times the line would get tangled in debris in the river and scare off the fish. Seemed like there was always something to interfere with our catching gar. Meanwhile we delivered a carp fishing clinic while chasing gar. Another fun, sometimes frustrating, fabulous day was had by all!

If you have a good Fawkinnae story I would love to hear it. And if you need a fresh bumpersticker, send me an e-mail at with your address and I will get one to you.


  • Craig M

    Now dubbed the GAR MASTER!
    Cool trip
    Awesome story

  • SCott

    Doug, you are the true cowboy rodeo fisherman. Gar man, cool!

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