Hefner, my guide, grew up just down the road in Winona, Texas. Slack-shouldered and square-jawed, he’s an even-tempered workhorse who saves his breath for words that matter. The first time he ever hooked into an alligator gar, he was in high school, fishing the Sabine River around Winona. All evening he’d watched a big gar pushing seven feet rise midriver. Taking a drum he’d caught on his bass tackle, he cut off a slab of meat to use as bait. With only a root beer bottle for a float, he hurled the bait where the gar had risen, and before long that bottle was gone. He never stood a chance of turning a fish like that with the tackle he’d brought, but just seeing how it could sink a soda bottle like a panfish dunking a pencil float was enough to convince him that this was a fish worth chasing.
Garfish have always fascinated me. There's a pet store in Albuquerque that would have them occasionally. I think they were Brazilian, not American. They were maybe seven maybe eight inches. Either way, I once asked one of the guys "what do you feed them? Goldfish?"
"Mice," he said.