Gar Fishing on San Juan River, Rio frio.

Alligator Gar

In Rio San Juan and Nicaragua Lake we fish for two Species:

We want to take a moment to share some exciting information about the two species of Gar that can be found around San Juan River, the common Alligator Gar and the Tropical Gar.

Did you know that the IGFA World record for Tropical Gar is in Rio Frio Costa Rica, where we frequently fish? The record is held by Mr. John Corry, and we have caught several of these specific Gar ourselves. One difference between the Tropical Gar and the Alligator Gar is that the Tropical Gar only has one line of teeth on the above jaw.

If you're interested in trying your hand at Gar fishing in our area, the easiest way to catch them is by bottom fishing with a piece of fish as bait. But for a more thrilling experience, we recommend fishing with a float and maintaining the same natural bait close to the bottom. Once you see the float moving, wait 5 to 10 seconds, then strike!

We've caught many of these fish in a day of specific fishing in Rio Frio or Cano negro, all year round. We've even caught the bigger Alligator Gar while trolling for Tarpon, with one weighing in at around 100 pounds in July of 2001. But we believe there are much bigger fish in the immensity of Nicaragua Lake, as we've also seen Bull shark and very big Saw fish around. It's definitely worth trying to fish specifically for these bigger Gar one day!

While Gar may not be the top fighters, they can still provide an exciting challenge for anglers. And if you're interested in learning more about Gar fishing, we highly recommend checking out the site of a good friend of ours, Garman Page. It's a very well-done page concerning Gar Fishing, including a message board dedicated to Gar.

Thank you for taking the time to read our thoughts on Gar fishing. We hope this information has piqued your interest and we look forward to discussing this topic further with you!


While trolling for big Tarpon on the San Juan River using a Rapalla Magnum 14 lure, we had an incredible experience. At around 10 am, we hooked the biggest Gar I had ever seen in my life, measuring around 1.40 meters in length and so fat! (Since this report, we have caught even bigger Gar.) Unfortunately, it managed to release itself while we were trying to take pictures. This Gar was really big and strong - my guide Augusto, who was born on the river banks, couldn't hold it either. He had never seen such a big one in his life!


One afternoon, I took Jeff Klassen to explore the beautiful jungle rivers of Rio Frio and to catch some Gar. We tried to catch them using traditional Rattle trap lures, but they were not biting. We even tried some special lures that Jeff brought, but still no luck. The locals usually have success using small sardines or parts of dead fish as bait on the bottom, but Jeff preferred to fish with lures. He still managed to catch a nice Snook and several Wapote though.

MARCH on San Juan River and Rio Frio.

During our fishing trip, we had many Tarpon hits and several jumped out of the water, but we only managed to release one to the boat. We also caught Snooks, Big Machacas, and many Gars. Since it's currently summertime here, the weather is very hot and so is the water. This makes the Tarpon less active, but not the other fish.