Skinning a GAR: What a Nigtmare!!

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JD Spydo
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Skinning a GAR: What a Nigtmare!!

Postby JD Spydo » Wed Jul 06, 2016 1:09 pm

I have been an avid fisherman ever since I was 8 to 9 years old. I've skinned, filleted and dressed many freshwater and saltwater fish in my times but this past week I encountered a fish skinning job straight out of hell :eek: Three of the teenage boys where I've recently been staying came up from the creek close by our house with a shortnosed "GAR" about 30 inches long. Now over the years I've caught GAR on trotlines, limblines and even on rod & reel on a couple of occasions but I had never ever even contemplated or even considered skinning and eating one ever :rolleyes:

WE used to consider them and the Bowfin both to be what my late aunt and uncle used to call "trash fish". My aunt & uncle both used to kill and dispose of every one of them they caught. But these boys were so excited about their catch that they begged me to skin it so they could cook it on our big Weber Grill with hickory and charcoals.

But I'm here to tell you that skinning that GAR was even worse than the 35 pound snapping turtle I dressed and told about on this forum about 9 to 10 years ago. The skin and scales on that GAR even resisted the super, straight razor sharp serrations on my TEMPERANCE I SE model :eek: . I finally was able to cut into the belly of the thing with my full SE Catcherman but pulling that skin & scales off was one of the meanest jobs I ever had>> it was so unbelievably tough that it seemed like the skin and scales was made of Kevlar or something similar :eek:

But much to my most pleasant surprise the meat on the GAR wasn't bad at all after we smoked it for about 2 to 3 hours>> and to my surprise everyone there said they liked eating it . It kind of reminded me a carp we smoked a few years back. But I'm here to tell all of you that I never encountered any other fish that was even half as difficult to skin and prepare as that GAR was. I would love to have a belt, hat or piece of luggage made from a Gar's hide. I had never experienced anything as resistant to cutting tools as that "shortnosed GAR" was :o

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Re: Skinning a GAR: What a Nigtmare!!

Postby mrtodd777 » Wed Jul 06, 2016 1:58 pm

Here in Texas we eat them all the time. They are a little tough to skin, but thats if you are only using a knife. Only one small incision is necessary and the rest is done with kitchen shears and pliars. It is a bit of work, but well worth it IMO. The skin will peel right off of the fish and leave you with beautiful white (almost translucent meat). They are great filleted and fried, but the best way to eat them is to make gar balls. (chop the meat, mix with seasonings, breadcrumbs, egg, shape into little balls and coat in corn meal. Then fry. DEElicious!

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Re: Skinning a GAR: What a Nigtmare!!

Postby JD Spydo » Wed Jul 06, 2016 4:40 pm

mrtodd777 wrote:Here in Texas we eat them all the time. They are a little tough to skin, but thats if you are only using a knife. Only one small incision is necessary and the rest is done with kitchen shears and pliars. It is a bit of work, but well worth it IMO. The skin will peel right off of the fish and leave you with beautiful white (almost translucent meat). They are great filleted and fried, but the best way to eat them is to make gar balls. (chop the meat, mix with seasonings, breadcrumbs, egg, shape into little balls and coat in corn meal. Then fry. DEElicious!
You guys have those "Alligator Gar" down there in Texas because I seen Jeremy Wade on his TV show on the Animal Planet channel do a special show on those Alligator Gar. I forget the size of the ones he caught but those bad boys were huge :eek:

When you think about GAR they are predators that mostly eat live prey so there really shouldn't be any reason not to eat them. I guess because they are so creepy looking that most people get pre-conceived notions about them. We have a lot of short nosed and long nosed Gar here in Missouri but we don't have the bigger Alligator Gar you all have down there. I'm not so sure I would feel safe swimming in Texas rivers :rolleyes:

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Re: Skinning a GAR: What a Nigtmare!!

Postby mrtodd777 » Thu Jul 07, 2016 8:47 am

It is not to uncommon to see 7 footers pulled out of the Trinity River here in North Texas. They can weigh up to 200+ lbs easy. What I find so cool about them is that they have remained virtually unchanged since the dinosaur days..

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Re: Skinning a GAR: What a Nigtmare!!

Postby mrtodd777 » Thu Jul 07, 2016 9:00 am

Imagegar1 by Todd Crawford, on Flickr


Imagegar2 by Todd Crawford, on Flickr


Imagegar3 by Todd Crawford, on Flickr

These pics arent of me, but those fish are good ole North Texas monsters..

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Re: Skinning a GAR: What a Nigtmare!!

Postby The Mastiff » Thu Jul 07, 2016 9:07 am

I never thought about eating a Gar. Carp either for that matter.

Gars look sort of primeval but are actually pretty smart. I had an alligator gar in a tank for a while. It recognized me and always reacted to me but not others. It seemed as smart as the cichlid group of fish which are known for being pretty intelligent. If they weren't fairly intelligent they wouldn't have outlasted the dinosaurs. A large one would be pretty tough to clean out I imagine. Tough scales!

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Re: Skinning a GAR: What a Nigtmare!!

Postby JD Spydo » Fri Jul 08, 2016 1:50 pm

The Mastiff wrote:I never thought about eating a Gar. Carp either for that matter.

Gars look sort of primeval but are actually pretty smart. I had an alligator gar in a tank for a while. It recognized me and always reacted to me but not others. It seemed as smart as the cichlid group of fish which are known for being pretty intelligent. If they weren't fairly intelligent they wouldn't have outlasted the dinosaurs. A large one would be pretty tough to clean out I imagine. Tough scales
Mastiff I can't even begin to describe how tough and armour-like the scales on a GAR are like. They truly do remind me of Kevlar or a similar space-age material of some type. Even when I dressed that one snapping turtle a few years back which I thought at that time was the most difficult field dressing job I ever embarked on>> The Snappper's shell was a lot easier to penetrated compared to that GAR :o

Yeah I agree with you that they are pretty smart and tenacious because they even survived in some of the most harsh environments I've ever encountered. I really don't know what to compare them to because I've never seen any animal's skin/hide as tough as theirs is. They are truly a brutal challenge for even a razor sharp Spyderedged blade to penetrate.

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Re: Skinning a GAR: What a Nigtmare!!

Postby anagarika » Fri Jul 08, 2016 9:46 pm

JD,

Any picture? I can't imagine what kind of fish it is, or is it a reptile?
Chris :spyder:

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Re: Skinning a GAR: What a Nigtmare!!

Postby SpyderEdgeForever » Sat Jul 09, 2016 8:48 am

They are also called "Sea needles". Then there is the alligator gar which gets huge and has big teeth.

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Re: Skinning a GAR: What a Nigtmare!!

Postby JD Spydo » Sun Jul 10, 2016 12:36 pm

SpyderEdgeForever wrote:They are also called "Sea needles". Then there is the alligator gar which gets huge and has big teeth.
Yeah when I was down in the Florida Key Islands for a while we seen the salt water versions of them a lot in the shallows and the reefs. We called them "Needle Gar". But they are not to be confused with the freshwater versions of this amazing fish. Spyderedge noted the Alligator Gar which you find mostly in Texas and Louisianna. Up here in Missouri and the surrounding area we have mostly short nosed Gar but I've heard a few accounts of the Large Nosed Gar mostly in the Mississippi River part of the state.

I've actually wondered if they weren't half fish and half reptile??? :confused: My late uncle got the hell bit out him :eek: a couple of times taking big ones off of trot lines that we ran in the Mississippi River and tributaries. I learned by his mistakes and I'm very careful how I handle them. They are hard to catch on a rod & reel for some reason. It takes an extremely sharp hook to get a firm hold on them. I've yet to find any fish that has a hide/skin/scales that even begins to compare with that of a Freshwater GAR.

It is as though they could be kin to the American alligator with the ferocious teeth have :eek: >> and I'm here to tell you that they put up a very hard fight on a rod & reel >> that is if you're lucky enough to hook one of the monsters.

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Re: Skinning a GAR: What a Nigtmare!!

Postby anagarika » Mon Jul 11, 2016 12:21 am

SEF, JD,

Thanks for further info. I thought GAR was abbreviation, then found info on alligator gar, but your (JD) catch seems to be a different species.
Chris :spyder:

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Re: Skinning a GAR: What a Nigtmare!!

Postby The Deacon » Mon Jul 11, 2016 5:59 am

Yep, gar definitely have a tough skin. From Wikipedia:

"The hard skin and scales of the gar were used by humans. Native Americans used the scales of the gar as arrowheads, native Caribbeans used the skin for breastplates, and early American pioneers covered the blades of their plows in gar skin." :eek:
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Re: Skinning a GAR: What a Nigtmare!!

Postby Doc Dan » Mon Jul 11, 2016 10:12 am

I do not envy anyone who tries to skin one of those things! It would be like digging through concrete. I would, however, like to be there when eatin' time comes 'round.
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Re: Skinning a GAR: What a Nigtmare!!

Postby anagarika » Mon Jul 11, 2016 6:32 pm

Mrtodd,

My apology. I wasn't ignoring you when I requested for pictures. Somehow your post with all the images didn't show up, even yesterday. :o

Today, it suddenly appears. What a monster !!! :eek:
Thank you. Now I understand better the comments about it & how tough & dangerous this fish is.
Chris :spyder:

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Re: Skinning a GAR: What a Nigtmare!!

Postby v8r » Tue Jul 12, 2016 7:16 am

Good gosh! I cross over the Trinity river every day going back and forth from work. We got gators ,huge gnarly looking fish , and bodies floating in that thing!

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Re: Skinning a GAR: What a Nigtmare!!

Postby mrtodd777 » Tue Jul 12, 2016 11:40 am

anagarika wrote:Mrtodd,

My apology. I wasn't ignoring you when I requested for pictures. Somehow your post with all the images didn't show up, even yesterday. :o

Today, it suddenly appears. What a monster !!! :eek:
Thank you. Now I understand better the comments about it & how tough & dangerous this fish is.
No worries! The pics needed to be approved by the moderators before they posted them, so it took a couple of days. Sorry I couldnt get them up sooner!

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Re: Skinning a GAR: What a Nigtmare!!

Postby anagarika » Tue Jul 12, 2016 6:50 pm

mrtodd777 wrote:
anagarika wrote:Mrtodd,

My apology. I wasn't ignoring you when I requested for pictures. Somehow your post with all the images didn't show up, even yesterday. :o

Today, it suddenly appears. What a monster !!! :eek:
Thank you. Now I understand better the comments about it & how tough & dangerous this fish is.
No worries! The pics needed to be approved by the moderators before they posted them, so it took a couple of days. Sorry I couldnt get them up sooner!
I see. That explains. :cool:
Chris :spyder:

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Re: Skinning a GAR: What a Nigtmare!!

Postby gac » Wed Jul 13, 2016 7:27 pm

Those pictures really make the thread. I don't fish but this is a neat topic.

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Re: Skinning a GAR: What a Nigtmare!!

Postby JD Spydo » Thu Jul 14, 2016 9:11 am

Doc Dan wrote:I do not envy anyone who tries to skin one of those things! It would be like digging through concrete. I would, however, like to be there when eatin' time comes 'round.
Well Doc I've been told all my life that GAR are truly an "unclean" trash fish :eek: . At least that's what my late aunt & uncle who lived on the Mississippi River thought of them and the "bowfin" both. As a kid and teenager fishing with them I was told to kill, destroy and dispose of all the GAR and bowfin that I caught.

But I'm here to tell all of you that the meat wasn't that bad at all>> the "drum fish" I ate once was far worse than that GAR meat was. We did smoke it over fresh hickory which I'm sure certainly helped. But I now wouldn't hesitate to eat it if I were very hungry at all>> although I would try to con one of my buddies into skinning the damned thing :rolleyes: :D

Those are great pics of that "alligator GAR" that the good Brother put up. It makes me wonder if one of those bad boys would attack a human under the right circumstances?? However I've never heard of anyone getting bit or attacked in open water by one of our GAR here in Missouri ( Thank GOD!) They are a very unique animal in many ways.

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Re: Skinning a GAR: What a Nigtmare!!

Postby The Mastiff » Thu Jul 14, 2016 9:51 am

Well Doc I've been told all my life that GAR are truly an "unclean" trash fish :eek: . At least that's what my late aunt & uncle who lived on the Mississippi River thought of them and the "bowfin" both. As a kid and teenager fishing with them I was told to kill, destroy and dispose of all the GAR and bowfin that I caught.
Me too. Same with Pickerel but we would eat Pike and Muskie. Carp were a "trash" fish due to the effect they have on waters they get loose in. They even drained reservoirs to kill off Carp. They always came back though. :( Knowing what I know now I wouldn't recommend killing Gar. Carp? Yes!

Other than incidents in landing fish in boats I only have read one account of a supposed Gar attack long ago on two children. In my experience with them though I tend to doubt they would attack a swimming or wading person. They are pretty smart and have nothing to gain by attacking large humans. Not all fish think that way and I've even seen tiny aquarium fish that would bite. Never Gar though. Mine would sure mooch food though. He really liked live insects and worms especially. Many river attacks are found to be Bull sharks. They are super aggressive in some circumstances and go surprisingly far up river and streams.

Joe


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