Yin and Yang

Explore the symbiotic relationship between two very different sport fish.

Symbiosis: the intimate living together of two dissimilar organisms. In the world of fishing, there aren't many species that are less similar than speckled trout and the alligator gar. But anglers who know that these two fish do interact will have more success on the water.

The speckled trout is one of the most popular sportfish along the coast, a beautifully marked, elegant fish with great sporting qualities. The alligator gar is a relic of the dinosaur era that sports an armored shell and eats everything from menhaden to mergansers. In the spring, however, these fish form a bond in the shallows, especially in canals on the Gulf Coast and in Florida. Speckled trout lie next to the log-like gar to eat the scraps missed by their messy distant cousin. _

"I've seen huge trout lying right next to gar in excess of 6' long," says Capt. Skip James, who guides in remote Louisiana marshes. "The first time I saw it I thought the gar had a growth or something on it. Then I realized it was a speckled trout."

Anglers savvy to this interspecies interaction know to scan for the gar, which break the water's surface to breathe. This is commonly called "rolling" and is identifiable when the gar's large yellow tail appears above the surface. If you spot a trout lying next to a gar, the trout will respond best to a slow-sinking soft plastic lure such as a Shad Assassin, a B & L Corky, or a Mir-O-Lure Catch 2000. Cast alongside the gar, and pick the trout off from next to it. But don't make the cast too close. I had the bright idea to bounce my lure off the gar, which resulted in the gar speeding away and the trout disappearing in a cloud of silt.