East Texas Gar Ropin’

When catfish angler Chockie Nolen realized that the biggest alligator gar he’d ever seen had taken his chicken liver bait offering and was proving difficult to land, he did what any self-respecting Texas cowboy would do—he lassoed the 100-pound critter and bulldogged it into his boat.

“I was fishing with my nephew, Dale Nolen, and his wife Donna, on the Neches River just below the Town Bluff dam,” said the 77-year-old, who runs a barbeque joint with his wife in Silsbee, Texas. “We mostly fish for catfish, but on that particular day we hooked a huge gar, the biggest one I’ve ever seen.”_Cowboy

It turns out that hooking the sharp-toothed monster was the easy part. Getting it into the boat required some unique angling skills—and a little bit of Texas ropin’.

At first the trio of anglers figured Chockie had hooked a big blue catfish, not an uncommon catch on that part of the Neches.

“He played it and played it,” Donna told the Beaumont Enterprise. “We were hoping for a big catfish. About 30 to 45 minutes later I finally saw it come up about four feet behind the boat. I let him know he was fighting a big gar. Chock finally played him down. We cut the rope from the anchor so we could lasso him.”

It seems that Chockie, who once team-roped steers in Southeast Texas, hadn’t lost his touch.

“We got the anchor rope looped around the head and pulled him in the boat,” the old cowboy said. “He just about turned the boat over.”

It’s our guess that a 16-foot jonboat holding three anglers, fishing gear and a crazed, thrashing 6-foot, 97-pound gator gar made for an interesting ride back to the boat ramp.

But they made it, without incident.

And the gar?

“They cleaned him and made gar balls,” Chockie said. “I’ve got the head. It’s wild looking with all those big teeth. We’re going to have it mounted and hang it on the wall at (my) West Texas Bar-B-Q.”

(Note to Newshound readers: I’ll be on the road and unplugged for a few days. If all goes as planned, my blog will resume by Wednesday, Oct. 3.)