Jake Ormand holds up the new state-record longnose gar. Louisiana Sportsman / Instagram
It was mid-afternoon on July 17 and bass pro Jack Ormond of Sterlington, Louisiana was giving a fishing lesson to a young angler in his boat. The two were on a big oxbow lake off the Ouachita River near his home.
Ormond, who’s also a guide, saw a huge gar roll on the surface of the lake and cast out a flutter spoon designed for bass. Ormond figured if he hooked the heavy gar, he’d hand the rod to the young angler in his boat and he’d enjoy the fight of his life.
But then he changed his mind.
“I was going to catch [the gar] just to show that kid,” Ormond told Louisiana Sportsman. “I knew it was a big one. I’d hooked a big one on a crankbait on the same point three or four days before, but I broke him off. I saw him roll and figured it might be the same fish I’d hooked before. I had a big flutter spoon tied on and pitched it in front of where he’d gone down. Gar like flashy stuff like spinnerbaits and spoons.”
The gar didn’t strike, so Ormond closed the distance to where he’d last seen the fish. Using his boat’s LiveScope, he spotted the fish tight to the bottom and cast to it again.
“The second [cast], he turned, and I could tell which end was his head,” Ormond said. “The third cast, I pulled it right over the end of his nose, and he came up and grabbed it.”
Ormond hauled in the brute using 20-pound test monofilament line. Then he drew it close to his boat.
“He wasn’t gonna fit in the net, and I didn’t have any way to put him in the boat,” he said. “But I was only 300 yards from the ramp at my house.”
Ormond got a rope around the gar’s gills and towed it to the bank near the boat ramp at his home. He knew the fish was a giant, so he checked the Louisiana fishing records. The previous state-record longnose gar was 30 pounds, 14 ounces, and Ormond’s fish weighed 31 pounds on his hand scale. But he knew he had to weigh it on a certified scale to apply for a record.
After striking out at a few different stores, he contacted K&M Coffee and Camo in Farmerville and brought his fish to there. It weighed 31 pounds, 7.7 ounces and measured 65.5 inches long. He filled out his record application at a Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries field office the next day.
Ormond is making his own mount of the gar, knowing the hefty price a commercial taxidermist would charge. He had to skin the fish, which was difficult because of the armor-like scales that gar have.
“I didn’t have a pair of scissors strong enough to cut through his scales on the back side,” Ormond said. “I wound up using a Dremel tool.”