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Apalachee Bay- Aug 4th

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Apalachee Bay- Aug 4th

Postby Srbenda » August 6th, 2019, 9:26 am

We took some friends out on Sunday, and hit the water around 930am, right near peak high tide. We went to the west flats first, and tried to get some pinfish in the boat, while others threw some popping corks for trout.

We landed a few short trout, and just 1 or 2 pinfish.

Something relatively large kept hitting the top water around us, but we never could figure out what it was. We then drifted into some deeper water, which remained very clear, as we could see straight down into about ten feet of water. That's when we saw the alligator gars- there were at least 4 or 5 of them swimming around in a loose school below us. They were not interested in anything that we threw at them, but kept swimming near the boat. It's the first time I've seen the gars that far out in saltwater, and certainly not grouped together.

We headed out to deeper water with the bait we had, and started drifting with the live baits and a 1oz sinker to get them low in the water column. We lost at least 3 baits with no hookups. I've had plenty of short strikes on live baits, but not as many disappearing acts like we did this day. We then saw a cobia chase up a jerkbait, and he started swimming around the boat. He ignored most of our baits, but finally ate a live pin drifitng, and we got him in the boat. Unfortunately, we was short, so we sent him back to get a little bigger.

Just a minute later, some cut bait we had on the bottom went off, and the battle began. My daughter was the closest to the rod when it went off, and we got halfway spooled, and ended up firing up the boat to chase it down. Finally, she began to haul up a pretty large nurse shark. I would guesstimate it at somewhere between 7' and 8'. It certainly wasn't a robust fighter, but she had fun ( and a workout ) getting it close to the boat. We finally were able to cut the leader ( not wire, just 60# mono ) and let it go.

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We hit the shoals, but it was pretty dead. No bait, no fish, but beautiful clear water. We fished some more live bottom, and did catch a robinfish. This was the first time catching one, and I would have kept him and eaten him had I known their meat was so delicious ( as I read later )

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We then trolled for awhile, and ran some deep diving Yozuri lures, and a planer with a duster and a cigar minnow. Got a short strike on the cigar minnow, and then we picked up this gag on the same rig. Lost one of my Yozuri's to something toothy, because I usually don't run them with wire. The weeds were a bit heavy, and we ended up calling it a day.

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For once, the weatherman was spot on with the forecast. The seas were less than 1' all day, and although there were some early storms in the distance, they faded away. The wind picked up right at 4pm as it was predicted, which timed well with our depature.
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Re: Apalachee Bay- Aug 4th

Postby STMU » August 6th, 2019, 2:48 pm

Great post, big nurse shark! I suspect the gar you saw were longnose gar, not alligator gar. Alligator Gar's native range never included this far east (https://databasin.org/datasets/74269f4a ... e2413c9d8e). I've seen quite a few longnose while diving for scallops and grouper in the St. Marks area. They get pretty big, and can be easily confused. The largest population of Aligator Gar are in the Escambia and Yellow River, and they really don't like full salt.

From FWC website...Alligator gar occur in rivers and sometimes brackish waters across the southeastern U.S. from Florida to Texas and into Mexico. In Florida, they do not occur farther east than the Apalachicola River in the Panhandle. Previously, this species' range extended to the upper reaches of the Mississippi River in Illinois, Ohio and Missouri. Now, the species is declining or completely absent from the edges of its historical range."

Definitely not completely out of the question, but longnose gar are common in our area, and do often venture out into full salt. Fun to catch with the fly rod. Used to spray paint and unravel some twine, throw it out with the fly rod and strip it across the surface very fast. Pretty cool hit and good fight. Best part...no hook, so you get to fight them for a minute or two, but eventually, the twine unravels or pulls apart on their snot. Safer for the fish and the human that way! Gar can get thick in certain areas of the rivers, and when nothing else is bitting it can be fun.
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Re: Apalachee Bay- Aug 4th

Postby DixieReb » August 6th, 2019, 7:17 pm

:thumbup: :thumbup: Nice groupa! I didn't know you could eat sea robins, I've caught my share of them. Sounds like a nice day out. :wink:
Yours in the South
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Re: Apalachee Bay- Aug 4th

Postby Srbenda » August 8th, 2019, 8:00 pm

STMU wrote:Great post, big nurse shark! I suspect the gar you saw were longnose gar, not alligator gar. Alligator Gar's native range never included this far east (https://databasin.org/datasets/74269f4a ... e2413c9d8e). I've seen quite a few longnose while diving for scallops and grouper in the St. Marks area. They get pretty big, and can be easily confused. The largest population of Aligator Gar are in the Escambia and Yellow River, and they really don't like full salt.

From FWC website...Alligator gar occur in rivers and sometimes brackish waters across the southeastern U.S. from Florida to Texas and into Mexico. In Florida, they do not occur farther east than the Apalachicola River in the Panhandle. Previously, this species' range extended to the upper reaches of the Mississippi River in Illinois, Ohio and Missouri. Now, the species is declining or completely absent from the edges of its historical range."

Definitely not completely out of the question, but longnose gar are common in our area, and do often venture out into full salt. Fun to catch with the fly rod. Used to spray paint and unravel some twine, throw it out with the fly rod and strip it across the surface very fast. Pretty cool hit and good fight. Best part...no hook, so you get to fight them for a minute or two, but eventually, the twine unravels or pulls apart on their snot. Safer for the fish and the human that way! Gar can get thick in certain areas of the rivers, and when nothing else is bitting it can be fun.


I'm sure you're right about the gar type.
I wish I had known something to throw that they would have attacked. They were big fish, and would have been fun.
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Re: Apalachee Bay- Aug 4th

Postby tallykenj » August 10th, 2019, 7:04 am

Nice report.
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Re: Apalachee Bay- Aug 4th

Postby StMarksAngler » August 25th, 2019, 2:25 pm

STMU wrote:Great post, big nurse shark! I suspect the gar you saw were longnose gar, not alligator gar. Alligator Gar's native range never included this far east (https://databasin.org/datasets/74269f4a ... e2413c9d8e).


Data they used for that chart must not be super accurate, as we used to catch alligator gar in the 100-150lb range in the St Marys river near Fernandina Beach all the time.
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