In 2012, I wrote a story about Brad Doughty and his amazing success in bagging big bucks on public land. He and I made a visit to Jackson Bienville wildlife management area to give my story more realism because this public area has been good to Doughty in his quest for waylaying public land bucks.
While interviewing him and following him around the area, Doughty shed light on another sport that has captivated his interest almost as much as big bucks. He loves to use his archery equipment in quest of big alligator gar.
“I like to bow hunt deer,” Doughty told me, “which naturally led me to bow fishing. I got to watching those big alligator gar rolling on the surface of the Ouachita River and decided to give bow fishing a try.
“I caught some big ones using a deep sea fishing rig and that was fun, but I wanted to try to stick a big one with an arrow.
“I got into the sport pretty seriously and was able to shoot some big gar. I found similarities in going after a big gar to going after a big buck,” he said.
“I pattern the fish. In deer hunting, I find trails and thickets big bucks are likely to use and in bow fishing, I find those areas where I see big fish roll on the surface.
“I take note of what areas in the river they like, what time of day they tend to surface and other things like weather, barometric pressure and such.”
Fast forward to a few weeks ago when Doughty, who now is a pro staff member of Backwater Outdoors, a major bowfishing company, was on the Ouachita in quest of a big alligator gar.
“I had planned a bowfishing trip Memorial Day weekend and Saturday I was out on the river scouting and managed to arrow a big fish measuring almost 6 ½ feet long tipping the scales at 130 pounds,” Doughty said.
As fine as this fish was, Doughty had something bigger in his mind as he scanned the river, realizing that the spawn was on and big fish would be starting to show up with more regularity.
“Minutes after landing the 130 pounder, I caught a glimpse of a monster of a fish. After heading home, I called my bowfishing buddy, Justin Terry and invited him to go along with me the next morning. He readily agreed,” Doughty said.
Launching his boat and easing into the same area where he had seen the big fish the day before, Doughty heard a big splash behind him.
“Seeing it was a monster fish, I swung around and released an arrow and realized I had made a good hit; the line was burning off my reel,” he said.
“After about a 10 minute wait, the fish surfaced again and I was able to get another shot. Even though the gar pulled us back into the timber again, I held on and was finally able to use my gaff and Justin and I pulled her over into the boat,” Doughty recalled.
It was only then that he realized what he had captured, the biggest alligator gar he had ever taken. The monster fish measured 7 feet, 10 inches in length and tipped the scales at 225 pounds.
“It has been my lifetime goal in 28 years of bow fishing to take a fish this size,” Doughty said. “It’s a memory my buddy and I won’t ever forget.”