While kayakers frequently mention the thrill of a ‘Cajun Sleigh Ride’ provided by a nice bull red, Brandon Saucier and his crew endured a chase scene from a “Fast & Furious” movie when he arrowed a giant 8-foot alligator gar early Sunday morning near Lake Boudreaux.
The 215-pound beast, which would have easily been the state’s new #1-ranked alligator gar had it been taken by rod and reel, took Saucier and buddies Jacob Badeaux and Jordan LeBoeuf on a wild ride in Saucier’s 16-foot Alumaweld in Terrebonne Parish.
“We saw something that looked like maybe a garfish, but I actually told one of the guys it was a log because there were a lot of underwater logs in that area,” he said. “They turned to go shoot another redfish, and I see the fish start taking off. So i grabbed my bow in the back of the boat and I shot him.
“It was towing the boat all around the pond like nothing,” said Saucier, 22, of Gheens, who shot the gar right behind the gills in 2-feet of water with a Cajun Archery Yellow Jacket Piranha arrow. “She came close to spooling me, but I ended up tying on to the cleat of the boat.
“I handed the bow to the guys in front and I started chasing with the boat because I only had 50 yards of string. I had to really keep up with her.”
They placed another arrow about mid-body for extra security, the big gar slowly started tiring out and Saucier’s 200-pound test Dacron line held tight during the struggle.
“It was a job getting it into the boat. That was the hardest part,” he said. “The edge of the boat was only a few inches above the water anyway. It was just so long and awkward.
“We were almost on the other end of the boat and the fish was still in the water.”
They shot the big gar with a pistol to get her aboard, and then put a Cajun anchor through her gills and out of her mouth so two guys could grab the pole and lift while the third crew member went to the far end of the boat to counter-balance all the weight.
“We only had a 16-foot boat, so the fish was half the size of the boat,” he said.
By 2:30 a.m. they had loaded her up and tried to do a little more bow fishing, but his 23-horse Go Devil was struggling with all the extra pounds on board.
Earlier in the evening, they had shot near-limits of redfish and sheepshead.
“With that gar fish and the redfish, we were moving at 4 miles-per-hour back to the camp,” said Saucier, a pre-med major at Nicholls State who is on his way to LSU Med School in New Orleans this fall.
They knew the big gar was something special the moment the wild ride began.
“As soon as we shot it, we started looking on our phones to find the record, but we could never find anything on bow fishing,” Saucier said.
They didn’t wake up the camp to show off the beast since they arrived back around 3:30 a.m., but everyone checked it out later that morning.
They had to attach a scale to a tow truck to weigh the fish, but didn’t want to waste the catch knowing the gar had been arrowed and shot and wouldn’t qualify for any records.
“We didn’t want to lose the meat, so instead of just wasting the fish, we cleaned it and kept the head so I could have some biologists at Nicholls look at the inner ear to get aged.”
The dissection is scheduled for later today, but Saucier said folks in the biology department told him they estimated the big gar was probably around 50 years old.
“They did one a few years back that was a little smaller and it was 48,” he said. “They think this one is between 49 and 55.”
And to think if the crew had been shooting better earlier that night, they might have never crossed paths with the giant.
“We were shooting pretty bad that night actually,” Saucier said with a laugh. “We should have been done a long time before, but we were messing around.
“Luckily we didn’t finish in time because I’d have never seen that fish.”