Thursday, June 18, 2020

Catching an Ancient Fish

June 18 is celebrated in the United States (well, by some people, anyway) as National Go Fishing Day, which I first wrote about last year as a way of commemorating my father, who had passed away only one month before.  I went fishing with him quite a bit, so I have several more stories I can share.

This year I decided to write about the most unusual fish my father ever caught:  a gar.  Before he caught one, we had never heard of it.  This was probably around 1976 or so.  At that time there was no ubiquitous Internet of things with information easily accessible at the touch of a keypad, so I don't know how he figured out that's what it was.

Somehow he did figure it out, and he made a point of telling us kids that gar were really ancient, as  in back to the time of the dinosaurs.  We had the impression that they hadn't changed very much over all those millennia.

The main thing I remember about it is that it was really, really big.  It was certainly the largest fish I saw my father catch.  I looked up gar on Wikipedia to try to figure out which species it was.  Based on the descriptions and the locations of their habitats, my best guess is a longnose gar.  The next possibility is the spotted gar, but I don't remember it having spots, just being big and long and green.

I know that Daddy had trouble getting the fish out of the water and to the house, because it was so big.  I don't recall the details of how he finally managed to do that.  I only vaguely remember something about it being lined up next to a dock while they figured out what they were going to do.

As it was such an apparently unusual fish for people to catch, we had a big party when we ate it, so everyone could share the experience.  I don't remember how the fish tasted, but I do recall that my mother tried making a wine sauce to go with it, and that the sauce really didn't work out well.  It wasn't one of her absolutely inedible disasters, but it did not rank among her best dishes either.

"Longnose gar (Lepisosteus osseus) at the New England Aquarium, Boston MA"*

Credit: Steven G. Johnson / CC BY-SA (


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