Reader Report: River monster

Willis Deshotel stetches out with his river monster gar taken out of the Red River.

Slack line turns into lengthy fight with 182.5 pound Red River gar

What started out as a normal weekend of catching catfish at Camp SoCo (Southern Comfort) turned into a freshwater battle that can only be compared to classic big game saltwater fishing.

Saturday June 17, my wife Triste and I headed down to the the sandbar in front of our camp on the Red River in Grassy Lake WMA to tight line for catfish, have a few cold drinks and enjoy some Swamp Pop while cooling off in the water. We set out our usual catfish poles and relaxed to enjoy the evening.

After a few hours of catching medium sized catfish and cast netting for skipjack and mullet, I decided to check one of the poles that had received no action for quite a while. As I was taking in the slack, I initially thought I’d hung up on bottom. As I doubled down on the reel and prepared to break the line off of the “hang up,” the line immediately started flying off the reel.

It was at this point I realized I had a really good fish on line.

First glimpse

After this fish nearly unspooled my rig twice, I finally got a glimpse of the river monster I had hooked. After what seemed like an hour of tightening and loosening the drag on my old Penn No. 9, running up and down the beach and several more times of nearly complete unspooling of the line, I finally started to win the battle.

As I began to land the gar after its last good run, I then came to a full recognition of what was at the other end of my line. I could no longer fight it at the end of my pole so I decided to get in the water and drag the beast across the shallows and up on the beach. Upon weighing in the gar on our camp scale we were truly shocked at what had just occurred at our little getaway.

The gar weighed in at 182.5 pounds and was nearly 8 feet in length. It was so big, I could almost hide behind it when I laid it on the sandbar. We desperately searched for certified scales to get it in the record books, to no avail. The Louisiana state record for alligator gar is 179.00 pounds, caught in the Red River by Jimmy L. Thompson in May, 1997. But due to the diligence of my loving wife, we have a great video of the final few moments of this awesome experience.

The monster gar was caught on a cut mullet, 40-pound Cajun Line mono and an old refurbished Penn No. 9 reel attached to a Catfish rod.

Camp SoCo really came through this time. What a great early Father’s Day gift I received.

-Willis Deshotel

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