Sunday, November 25, 2007

2007 Was A Great Longnose Gar Fishing Year For Me. Here Is The Recap

Selling Cars and Catching Gars!
Ask For Donnie Hinkle "West Point Lake Gar Grabber"

The year 2007 proved to truly be a banner year in my Longnose Gar fishing career. There were a lot of first time events and the surprise’s just kept coming all year long.

It all started on May 24th when I caught my first ever Black Gar. It looked like someone painted it with liquid shoe dye and it was still wet. In four years of Longnose Gar Fishing I've only seen one melanistic Gar for certain and thought I saw one twice but the sightings were so quick I couldn't be for sure. I immediately began studying for the reason that a Longnose gar could become solid black. My studies concluded that it's a condition called Melanism. Melanism is an increased amount of black or nearly black pigmentation (as of skin, feathers, or hair), in this case the Gars scales, resulting from the presence of melanin. It is the opposite of albinism, which occurs due to lack of melanin.

I emailed the pictures of my catch around to several publications and then Columbus Enquirer news paper out of Columbus Georgia called me wanting to do a sports section article on the catch which began the increased interest in my Longnose Gar fishing on West Point Lake. A few days later Brad Gill of Georgia Outdoor News called my cell phone while I was at work. When I answered the phone he says "Longnose Gar Fishing huh. Tell me about the black Gar you caught". Then he gave my number to an intern writer named Drew Hall who called to set a date to fish with me to do a July 2007 article. So Timmy and I set out to try to inspire Drew in writing an article that would give Longnose Gar some credibility as a quality game fish and not "Trash Fish" as many fishermen still label them as.

With all the new publicity and new interest in Longnose Gar Fishing at an all time high I opened a guide service this year. Yes, Longnose Gar Fishing on West Point Lake was wide open with clients and inquiries about anything and everything I do concerning catching Gar on the Point. I couldn't be happier with my success as well as the encouragement I was getting from my Gar Fishing peers from Gar Anglers' Sporting Society and all around the country, even in Canada, my new friend Pierre Fortier who swaps emails with me often.

Then suddenly one day to my surprise when I took my daughter Shelley and her fellow Jason Gar Fishing, Shelley boated the second Melanistic Gar of the season. Wow!!! I was completely in awe that a rare fish like that could enter my boat twice in one season. I told Shelley that I though I was something special and the you came along, only the second time you've ever wet a rope and what do you do? Catch a Gar I've been putting countless hours into trying to catch for the last four years! Thanks a lot Shelley!

At the beginning of the 2007 Gar season Bob Frick, Coosa River Longnose Gar guide and fellow GASS member began a Gar Fishing competition on Gar Anglers' Sporting Society and to top off an awesome 2007 Longnose Gar season I was awarded Angler Of The Year by Bob in behalf of GASS. I'm not sure I really deserved it because the recipient got clobbered by the presenter of the award with one awesome catch for 2007 that weighed 23 lbs and 5 ounces and measured 61 inched long!!! That pretty well snuffed my biggest of 2007, so thank you Bob for the award but you deserve much more recognition and respect for that beautiful catch.

Below I've added a slide show of the Georgia Outdoor News trip that Drew Hall sent me months ago. I promised I would put them on my website until after the July issue was released so I've held on to my promise Drew. Also a few pictures of 2007's Gar Season.

Until next year, I hope everyone has a save holiday season and thanks again to all of my friends for the encouragement.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Patients For Big Longnose Gar!!!

Selling Cars and Catching Gars!
Ask For Donnie Hinkle "West Point Lake Gar Grabber"

I spent the day scouting for Gar since I haven't been able to go fishing for a few weeks. A guy called me who knows my brother Gary's brother-in-law Tommy called wanting to go on a guide trip. Thanks for the referral Tommy if you're reading! I told him I would go see how the bite looks today first before I commit to a trip. He's bringing his 10-year old son with him and I wanted to make sure I could put them on some good Gar. I got my answer real quick!

The Gar were ultra aggressive today so I had to get selective right away! On days like this you could easily catch twenty or twenty five Gar if you wanted to but I would spend the hole day picking, pulling, and cutting nylon instead of fishing. It was a day of watch and wait, for the big boy to show his beak for a quick cast out in front of it as the gar cruises by. Patients resulted in two very nice Longnose Gar. Both were "Georgia Fat Boys" from West Point lake too! You couldn't tell who the fat boy was, me or the Gar!!! In one picture I think the Gar won but that's just my opinion.

After catching a few very nice Gar I tested the blind cast for a while. It took only three or four cast to land another nice 12 pounder so I stopped there. I could have caught Gar all day long it seemed, but man was it ever getting hot!!!

The Gar are not in the shallows anymore but they are stacked up like wood if you know where to find them. Looks like my new clients are in for a real treat!

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Patrick Scores Big On Guide Trip!!!

Selling Cars and Catching Gars!
Ask For Donnie Hinkle "West Point Lake Gar Grabber"

Patrick decided that he wanted to know the secret to catching big Longnose Gar on West Point Lake so he contacted West Point Lake Gar Grabbers for an adventure of fishing for this action packed prehistoric dinosaur of a fish. Exciting Gar Fishing action is exactly what he got too. It turned out to be a really great day!

I, Donnie Hinkle, along with Patrick began our adventure with a brief seminar on the rope lure I use and how I rig it and how to fish it. Patrick was very interested in knowing everything he could possibly learn about Longnose Gar and how to catch them so we talked in length about what I knew about there habits, habitats and how to spot them. He commented on how he has probably fished all around them without ever knowing they were there, and he is right. Gar are very stealthy creatures and if you don't have a trained eye for them you'll never know they're there.

My first goal with Patrick was to help him get his first Gar of the day into the boat so I took him to where I had recently learned was a very hot spot. That was where Patrick landed his first Longnose Gar that he's ever caught that was not by accident and his first Longnose Gar that he's ever caught without using hooks! It was a nice Longnose that tipped the scales at around 12 pounds! Patrick was off to a great start and was catching on very fast. Good fishermen usually do.

Patrick proved to be an eager and quick student as I coached him while he learned to work the rope lure with a presentation that has worked so well for me over the years.

We changed locations a few more times while Patrick tangled up with another Longnose Gar, and then another! Patrick was getting better and better at working the rope.

The sun was starting to get high in the sky and our time was nearing an end. I knew it was time to take Patrick to my favorite spot for big Longnose Gar. Just as we arrived I snagged a very nice Longnose and without actually seeing the Gar I told Patrick that this is a nice one! When I tightened up on it the rope pulled away from it's beak! Then before I could retrieve the lure from the water another Gar attacked it right at the surface while the rope was barley above the water! Wow!!! It looked as if this was going to be the spot of the day! I just wondered how big it really was? Oh well. Then It was Patrick's turn again and before I new it he had a very nice Gar on. Patrick was just standing there holding back on his rod when I realize it was still striping drag out of his reel! After he got the Gar to the boat it turned out to be the biggest of the day! This one tipped the scales at about 14 pounds and measured 47.5 inches. A very nice Gar!

When our day was over Patrick had landed 7 gar and definitely proved to be great student and fisherman. I hope Patrick had as much fun as I did with our time together on beautiful West Point Lake catching what I believe to be the most exciting fish on West Point Lake when you consider both the fight and the unpredictable release. What I mean by unpredictable is that you never know what to expect from a Gar once you have it in the boat. If you don't believe that then just ask Patrick! More than once Gar got loose in the boat as we were trying to pull the nylon from their teeth. One of them wound up in the floor of my boat right between Patrick's feet! All you have to do is relax your grip for just a moment to get some excitement started! Right Patrick!!!

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Unbeleivable!!! My Daughter Shelley Caught A Black Gar!!!

Selling Cars and Catching Gars!
Ask For Donnie Hinkle "West Point Lake Gar Grabber"

On May 24th 2007 I caught a solid black Longnose Gar and thought it was something special. I thought it would never see it happen again in my lifetime, but I was wrong. Today, June 24th 2007 my daughter Shelley who has never even gone Gar Fishing but one other time ever before caught an ultra rare melanistic Gar!!! I couldn't believe my eyes when I saw it! Not only did she catch this black Gar but I caught it on video too! I was so excited that I almost forgot to record it! These two videos may very well be the only footage captured of a Melanistic Longnose Gar actually being caught and just puts the icing on the cake for what has been a phenomenal year of Longnose Gar Fishing on West Point Lake for me, my family and friends!

Shelley and her boyfriend Jason are students at Georgia State University. It was a special treat to have them both with me today for a great day of Longnose Gar Fishing and it really turned out to be a special day for sure.

Jason started the show with a nice 8lb Gar, his first ever. Then Shelley caught her black Gar which was the highlight of the day. As the day grew hotter so did the Gar Fishing with Jason landing another Gar and then Shelley landing a nice FAT Longnose that weighed in at 15lbs-8ounces and measured 47 inches. Her first big Longnose ever. After that, with sun up high in the sky the sight fishing was getting really good. You could see what you were fishing for which makes it that much easier to catch that big one you're looking for. Suddenly Jason and I saw what turned out to be the biggest Gar of the day come cruising by and I tossed my rope out in front of it while we witnessed the big Gar attack the lure before our very eyes! Jason said that was pretty cool seeing how the Gar turns it's body sideways while launching itself at the rope lure. This big boy weighed 16lbs-8 ounces and 48 inches long. Both of the big Gar that Shelley and I caught very fat Gar and a ton of fun to catch!

As the day grew hotter and the jet skis and boats were starting to rock us around, it was time to head to the boat ramp. Gar Fishing on West Point Lake has never been better than it's been this year and I'm looking forward to having Shelley and Jason back in my boat before the season ends. Surely this lucky girl won't catch another extraordinary fish again! What a day!!!

The last two pictures are actually videos shot from my digital camera. Enjoy!

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Timmy & Clint Both Catch Nice Gar!

Selling Cars and Catching Gars!
Ask For Donnie Hinkle "West Point Lake Gar Grabber"

We got on the lake early this morning because the weather forecast was calling for thunderstorms from noon until about 10:00 tonight. It was cloudy early on but the Gar were still active. Timmy started the show with a pretty nice 10 pounder. A little later I caught a couple of nice gar too. Meanwhile Clint was struggling a little. I changed locations because I knew it would be easier for Clint to catch his first today but as soon as we pulled up to the next spot yours truly landed another one and so did Timmy. Still no Gar for Clint. I noticed that his rope lure kept getting dirty but I thought it was because he was letting it drop all the way to the bottom before he began his retrieve but I took a closer look and the fishing rig I gave him to use had a 1/2 bullet sinker on it and it was dragging the bottom too much because of the excess weight in such shallow water.

After Clint changed his weight out and we changed spots again, Clint landed his first Longnose of the day. It was a very nice 10 pounder so the monkey was off Clint's back. It's a good thing too because we were giving him the devil!

I decided to change spots again and go to my best fishing hole of the year for big Gar. That was when Timmy landed the biggest Longnose Gar of the day. A very fat 49 inch Gar that weighed in at 14 lbs - 10 ounces.

I shot the first video on my digital camera of a Gar getting caught and published it here in this post. It turned out OK but I hope to improve a little on the next try.