In my freshwater sojourns as of late, I haven't had as much luck with the bass, and I've been eschewing the bluegill entirely. I have, however, discovered that the place where I've been fishing has a healthy population of gar.
Just for fun, I've been casting at them with my bass popper. It's always enjoyable to target a fish, present a fly, and entice a bite, but with gar, the problem is setting the hook. It's not hard to get a gar to bite. With their armored scales and their mouthful of teeth, they don't have much to worry about (aside from the occasional hungry gator), so they don't spook too easily, and they seem to have the attitude that if something is moving, it must be food. I tried different hooksetting techniques with each gar to take the popper, ranging from a hard strip strike (teeth cut the line) to a gentle trout set (fish stayed on for a few seconds until it realized all it had to do was open its mouth).
All of this has resulted in a new determination to catch one of these fish on fly. The generally agreed-upon strategy is to use a fly that will entangle the gar's teeth. I'm sure this is frowned upon by purists, but so are gar, so I figure what the hell, I'll give it a try. I've tied up a few flies with EP fiber and a few with an old gar standby -- nylon rope. These are ugly flies, but like I said, the gar seem not to be too discerning, so they'll probably be shredded in short order.
Now all I have to do is get out there and catch one of these swamp creatures so I can get back to the salt.
To be continued...