Fishing the Fifty
My Quest to Fish All 50 States
Everyone raves about Texas ad nauseam and I thought there was no way that the state could possibly live up to the hype. I was wrong.
Before heading to my fishing destination, I stopped at Whataburger, the burger pride of Texas. I then drove to Austin, which was every bit as cool as I hoped it would be. I had some great BBQ at Stubb’s and listened to some live music before exploring 6th Street, a more family-friendly version of Bourbon Street. The next day I headed to Palestine, Texas, to fish with Bubba Bedre (garfishingguide.com) for trophy alligator gar. Alligator gar are fascinating and prehistoric-looking fish. They grow to several hundred pounds and are able to survive out of the water for up to two hours. Bubba appeared on Jeremy Wade’s River Monsters, although sadly the segment included on the episode was not an accurate representation of their fishing trip. Bubba put Jeremy Wade on a monster gar, as seen on Bubba’s website, but the show would have you think that Jeremy missed his trophy when fishing with Bubba and had to keep looking elsewhere in Texas.
A trophy alligator gar needs to be six feet long, so, while I was hoping for a trophy, I tried not to get too excited so as not to disappoint myself if I caught “only” a five-foot fish. I caught four non-trophy gar (although one did weigh 45 – 50 pounds) and contented myself to watching wild hogs on the banks and alligators swimming, when I hooked into a true river monster: a 6 foot, 9.5 inch long, 187-pound alligator gar. This fish had an astounding 34-inch girth. Along with my 400-pound Oregon sturgeon and my 49-pound Wyoming lake trout, this ranks as one of the best and most exciting fish I have ever caught.
Before the trip ended, I caught a 71-inch, 100-pound alligator gar, one inch shy of the minimum for another Texas trophy. In total, I caught six alligator gar with Bubba, all of which were exciting to battle, especially the last two. I celebrated my amazing trip with another round of Whataburger and, in true Texas fashion, headed off into the sunset.
How Texas does rental cars
Unofficial "Welcome to Texas" sign: Whataburger
My first two Texas fish; the one in my lap was my first, a 56-inch alligator gar
This fish is so big that I need Bubba's help to show it off properly
My trophy alligator gar, 81.5 inches (6 feet, 9.5 inches) long, 34 inches around, and 187 pounds. One of the best fish I have ever caught
Battling another monster alligator gar; thank God Bubba has the best equipment available
71-inch alligator gar, one inch short of the 72-inch minimum for another Texas trophy
The beautiful but perilous Trinity River
Sow boar with piglets
Riding off into the sunset after an amazing day of fishing