Stalking Prehistoric Long Nose Gar

Hosts Angelo Viola and Pete Bowman took to the waters with the objective of 100% sight fishing.

Sight fishing is an aspect of our sport that is exciting, rewarding, satisfying, AND frustrating! Anglers for the longest time have waded the saltwater flats for Bonefish, they have stalked various trout species from the banks of gin-clear creeks, they have fished spring Bass tournaments for bedding Largemouth, and the list goes on with this unique eyeballing technique.

In this Fish’n Canada episode, Angelo and Pete took to the waters of the Ottawa River with the objective of 100 percent sight fishing.

Their quarry might surprise you, it was the prehistoric, armour-plated Long Nose Gar.


The Longnose Gar is a unique creature. It’s a primitive ray-finned fish of the gar family. It is also known as the needlenose gar. The gar has been present in North America for about 100 million years.

Fossils of Gar have been found in Africa, Asia, Europe, North America, and South America dating back 100 million years. Currently, longnose gar is found in Central America, Cuba, North America, and the Isles of Pines.

Hooking Gar is extremely difficult... netting big ones is just as hard

The most common prey of the longnose gar is small fish and occasionally insects and small crustaceans, and they mostly feed at night. Larger gar has been known to feed on smaller Gar. The gar is more of a sport fish, but their meat is apparently tasty.

Ang with GAR
Such a prehistoric creature

Longnose gar has an average lifespan of 15–20 years with a maximum reported age of 39. This long lifespan allows the female to sexually mature at around six years old. Males mature sexually as soon as two years of age. Longnose gars are sexually dimorphic: the females are larger than the males in body length, weight, and fin length. They generally have a clutch size close to 30,000, depending on the weight-to-length ratio of the females; larger females bear larger clutch sizes. They spawn in temperatures close to 20 °C in late April and early July. Their eggs have a toxic, adhesive coating to help them stick to substrates, and are deposited onto stones in shallow water, rocky shelves, vegetation, or smallmouth bass nests. Their hatch time is seven to nine days; young gar stays in vegetation during the first summer of life. Longnose gar reaches an average length of 28-48 in (0.71-1.2 m) with a maximum length of about 6 ft (1.8 m) and 55 lb. (25 kg) in weight.


The fishing grounds for this show were the section of the Ottawa River, upstream of the city of Ottawa. Joining our team for this shoot was a local fishing guide and friend of Fish’n Canada, Jamie Pistilli of Rising Sun Charters. Jamie has fished this part of Ontario for many years—and most importantly for Ang and Pete, he’s specialized in gar fishing for over a decade.

This was the view from Pete's Brookstreet window, golfing and fishing... it gets no better!

Jamie set the boys up with a run of back bays and shallow shorelines that he figured would pay off… and pay off they did!

“The beauty to sight fishing Gar,” Jamie says, “is the peak time is around 10 am to 4 pm… you don’t have to get up in the dark and get home in the dark.”

Pete and Ang didn’t take long to find fish and engage in battle with them. That said, they did take a long to eventually get one in the net.

“Keeping a gar on the line until netted,” says Angelo, “is next to impossible… they are true escape artists.”

What did it take to land a few fish?

“We used weighted flies on spinning gear,” says Pete, “as well as slow sinking soft-plastic swim baits. The key, however, was the addition of a stinger hook.”

By tagging on a small treble stinger behind their baits, the boys upped their hook-up odds tremendously. Believe it or not, though, they still missed the majority of fish bites.

Both the flies and the swimbaits had good-sized Bass hooks, much too large to even fit in a gar’s mouth. A stinger was a must!

“The key to enticing these gar to strike,” says Angelo, “was to essentially drop our baits right on the fish’s nose. These Gar seem almost blind, and anything outside of a few feet of their peripheral vision is usually ignored.”

Riding the baits high and close to the surface was the presentation.

“The only colours we used were white and black,” says Pete, “two colours that are easy for the fish, as well as the anglers, to see… and that’s a big key in this type of sight fishing. You watch your bait and you watch the reaction of the fish towards your bait.”

In all, the guys landed about 10% of the bites they incurred. Not a good rate, but much better than a big zero.

The biggest fish, and biggest disappointment, was a giant that Angelo brought to the boat side; as Pete attempted to scoop it into the net, the fish slashed its body, snapped Ang’s line, and pulled a 360 right back into the Ottawa River. A real giant… the one that got away!

Accommodations, Guides & Outfitters:


Angelo, Pete, and the film crew were taken care of by the fantastic staff at the Brookstreet Hotel. They class this place as one of the best they have ever stayed at not only in Ontario but the entire country.

As you can see, Brookstreet is very close to the fishing on the Ottawa River

Brookstreet has a championship golf course, 2 restaurants, indoor and outdoor pools, a fully outfitted fitness center, spas and so much more to offer travellers, outdoors people, or families just looking for a weekend away.

Jamie Pistilli of Rising Sun Charters is a multi-species fishing guide in the Ottawa area that has now teamed up with Brookstreet. This is a dynamic combination of fantastic on-the-water guiding abilities and first-class accommodations. Jamie has added Gar fishing to his ever-growing list of target species. We highly recommend a trip with Jamie for these incredible fighters.

This was the view from Pete’s Brookstreet window, golfing and fishing… it gets no better!


If you have extra time to indulge in other activities while in Ottawa, you may want to check out the Lady Dive for an amphibious exploration of Ottawa and Gatineau. If you are into a bit more of an action-packed adventure, then not too far upriver you can partake in a raft ride down the dynamic waters of the legendary Ottawa River whitewater.

For a complete guide To *Fish’n Canada show* EPISODES, TV CHANNELS AND SHOW TIMES, go to or

About Fish'n Canada

As one of the original pioneers of Canadian adventure television, the Fish'n Canada Show has been broadcasting their pursuit of the ultimate adventure for over 30 years. Hosts Angelo Viola and Pete Bowman educate and entertain audiences with their passion and enthusiasm for fishing. Both are inductees in the Canadian Anglers Hall of Fame. Check out their episodes and video on the Fish'n Canada YouTube Channel and like them on Facebook!

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