Photo of the Month: Autumn Slab of Gold

Photo of the Month: Autumn Slab of Gold

Sunday, June 10, 2007

More From Oklahoma

Oklahoma can get pretty interesting once the sun goes down. For starters, the sunsets can be spectacular. We didn't get to witness any particularly interesting ones but they were quite nice still.

As the darkness deepens over the landscape, the creepy crawly critters come out to play. I've always been intrigued by snakes despite a rather healthy respect for them. This has led to the enjoyment of slowly driving back roads at night after the sun has gone down looking for new and interesting snakes to photograph. My goal is generally to find a rattlesnake but usually the best I can come up with is a copperhead. This night was no different from the norm except that the copperhead I found had a serious attitude problem. The little guy wanted to chase me around. After getting back in the car and letting the snake cool down a bit, I cautiously got out again and this time it stayed still for some decent pictures.

Getting chased around the dark Oklahoma countryside is tiring business and shortly thereafter I retired for the night. The next day would bring slower fishing but I did manage the best bass of the trip, albeit not very large.

A stroll down a country road allowed me to check on the local bovines. They all seemed to be doing rather well but were very curious. I decided maybe they just wanted their pictures taken and obliged with a few shots.

I'm always glad when the cows are behind a good solid fence. There were a few frightening experiences I had earlier in life involving free-ranging cattle hanging out on roads I was travelling. The funniest was when I was headed south back to Arizona from Moab, Utah. I was rolling through the Navajo reservation when suddenly, ghostly colored forms appeared to be floating all around me. Probably the sheep and cows were more frightened than I was but you probably won't be able to actually convince me of the fact. Whatever the case, ever since I've believed that the place for such creatures is behind a fence, or at least, not wandering the highways in search of some poor traveler to terrorize.

Scheduled for the fourth day of the vacation was a trip to the Tallgrass Prairie Preserve near Pawhuska. Normally we slowly drive the roads through the preserve, viewing plenty of bison in addition to the wide array of local birds. This particular day the bison were not cooperative. The nearest we came was probably a solid half a mile away. The scenery was still nice though and well worth our time.

I decided ahead of time that the last day would be dedicated to the long rod. By mid afternoon I finally got away down to the creek and started fishing. Right away I had a nice fish on the popper but then things slowed down. Finally I settled on the popper with a simi seal leech dropper and this seemed to be the best solution. The gar never did come around much so I didn't really get any good shots at it. The panfish were more than cooperative though and made the afternoon enjoyable.

As always, it was a great trip to Oklahoma. Hopefully I'll be able to return again in the not too distant future. I'm usually doing pretty good if I can make it out there every couple of years so we'll see. In the meantime, I'll be trying to figure out what exactly gar eat and how you go about catching them...


  1. Anonymous7:52 AM

    Gar...perhaps I can help. Supposedly, you can take a length of nylon rope and unravel it so that you have a frayed mess. Tie it to the end of your leader and twitch it like a wounded minnow around a nearby gar's nose. If the gar strikes, let him chew on the fly for a bit. The idea is for his teeth to get caught in the frayed rope. Then reel him in. Hang on though, and be careful releasing him. If you own Whitlock's Fly Fishing for Bass, it covers this technique near the back, if memory serves. I've got a feeling you could make a proper fly to do the same thing by securing the frayed rope to a hook and gluing some eyes to the side.

    We used to catch a lot of gar on Lake Guntersville with conventional tackle. We'd use large minnows for bait with slip floats, out in the main river channel. You'd let the gar run with the line for 30 yards or so, then set the hook. Lots of times, you'd be able to hook them in the mouth/snout by using this technique. If you want a real thrill, hook one accidentally while flipping a big jig for bass through the milfoil. When you set the hook and yank a 3 ft long gar into the boat with you, you'll never forget it.


  2. Your description of using frayed nylon or something else is ringing a faint bell, if only I could remember where else I have heard about it. Anyway, I'll be sure to make some frayed nylon flies next time to try for these fish. Thanks for the tip!

  3. Anonymous10:06 AM

    If memory serves, John Gierach mentions it in one of his books as well. If you're a Gierach fan like myself, that's probably where you picked it up. Take care,