It was midafternoon. The Texas heat bore down on my shoulders as I stood silently by the riverside, listening to the background drone of katydids and cicadas. My fishing partner readied tippet and selected his fly down the bank a ways. I could smell the heat, and the river; a subtle bouquet of drying plant material and mud. I took note of all this, but my eyes never left the water. I was searching for a sign. As the water warmed its ability to retain oxygen decreased, and as a result a fish that could use it’s air bladder like a lung would have an advantage. A predatory advantage over the sluggish, oxygen-starved minnows and other prey. A gar advantage.
There. A subtle roll, not really a gasp for breathe just kind of a sip. Small gar, that one. Probably a longnose. Another rolled, and another.
Rod in my right hand, leader in my left. My fly hung a few inches below my left hand, swaying gently in the occasional puff of breeze that crawled through the riparian vegetation. My eyes slightly unfocused, looking at nothing and everything. The heat was hot, and the insects droned on.
Down the bank, my fishing partner waded gently out into the water, ripples emanating from his knees as he stopped and started stripping a pile of light blue line into the water.
From the corner of my eye I watched the pile zip up off the water as he flexed the rod through a double haul. I took a deep breath of hot, wet air, and stepped into the water. It was warm, but cool to my legs and the backs of my knees. I stopped and started making my own line pile, still watching.
Tha-wOOSH! Mid-river, a leviathan surfaced for a fleeting moment, gulping air and turning immediately back towards the bottom, throwing water with a caudal fin as big as my head.
I glanced over at my buddy down the bank. He grinned and motioned with his head towards the retreating ring of ripples created by the rolling alligator gar. Go get ‘em, he said without words. I nodded. So it begins…