The Neuse and I have a love hate relationship. It seems whenever I fish there it's either really good or I get skunked. I've been researching catching gar for the last few years. Whenever I talk to people about the best places to see gar the Neuse is always mentioned. The phrase "they are all over" is often used. I've been to the Neuse many times and have never seen one.
I geared up with expectations to hook up with something. I felt kind of funny passing he spin fisherman while wearing heavy duty gloves and carrying a fly that looked like road kill. Rope flies are supposedly the fly of choice for gar and they don't cast or look pretty.I get them from a guy who has caught a lot of gar and has become sort of a specialist. You can find out more at Fly Fishing West VA and Beyond.
I passed some kids fishing and fished right next to a dam where water swirled and seemed to make a deep pool. The current was insane at times I thought I had a fish but it was just the current moving my fly. I worked downstream and didn't see any sign of fish. the fly cast so ugly and I started to wonder if the only way to have a chance at catching a gar was from a boat. Having covered a good half mile of river and not seeing a gar again made me question this "all over" comment people made. If I say a fish is all over some where, it would mean you walk five feet upstream or downstream and you'd most likely see one. Gar are not that prevalent.
I tried a different section walked past the various fisherman and asked if they'd seen any gar. Most said no or didn't know what I was saying. Then while feeling my most frustrated I saw the shadow of a slinky fish moving into deeper water. I didn't get a chance to look at it long but it was unmistakably a gar. I had finally saw one. Now I just had to catch it. I cast and used various techniques. I saw splashes and gulps that I can only imagine were gar feeding and rising for air. I never had any hits on the rope fly. At least none I could detect. It was tough fishing and the weight of the fly could easily warrant using a 10wt. I'm going to change things up a bit and try a different fly material and technique. I think wade fishing for gar takes a lighter fly that drifts slower in the current. I didn't catch any gar but the trip was a good learning experience. I found a place to fish for Shad when they run again. I also know for sure gar truly are in the section I was fishing. I will definitely fish for them again before summer is over.