Longnose Gar Facts, Information, and Photos
As a living remnant of the prehistoric past, the Longnose Gar is a fascinating species of freshwater fish. The most abundant and widely distributed of all other species of gars, it is surprisingly very under targeted. American Expedition is proud to present facts, information, and photos of the Longnose Gar.
Longnose Gar Information
The longnose gar (Lepisosteus osseus), also known as the Needlenose gar or Billy gar, is a ray-finned fish of the gar family that has been around for 100 million years. It has a slender body that is grayish to olive in color and fades to white on its underside. It has an armor of scales covering its whole body. The one dorsal fin is located near the end of the back. This fin, along with the others, is marbled with dark-colored spots. The gar has a long, narrow snout and a mouth lined with unbelievably sharp teeth. In addition to using their gills, the gar can take in oxygen by swimming to the surface and gulping air into their highly vascularized swim bladder. Gars can survive in water with very little oxygen and even out of water completely for many hours, as long as their bodies stay moist.
Females become sexually mature at 6 years and males between 3-4 years. Spawning takes place during the spring and summer, when the water reaches at least 68 degrees Fahrenheit. A female will lay its eggs on gravel areas and weedy shallows and, as they are released, the male fertilizes them. A single fish can lay about 30,000 eggs a year. The eggs have a coating to help them stick to the gravel or vegetation. This coating is toxic to terrestrial vertebrates such as mammals and birds. The eggs hatch in 7 to 9 days and the young gar stay in vegetation and eat zooplankton and insects. After they reach about one inch in length, they switch over to an all fish diet.
Longnose Gar Facts
- The difference in appearance of a male and female gar is size - the females are naturally larger than the males.
- Both genders grow continually with age.
- The average lifespan of a gar is 17-20 years.
- The average length of a gar is between 2.5 to 4 feet, but it really just depends on where it is located.
- The world record is 50.31 pounds, caught in Trinity River, Texas in 1954.
- Gars can survive in water with very little oxygen and even out of water completely for many hours, as long as their bodies stay moist.
Longnose Gar Habitat
Longnose gar fossils have been found in Africa, Asia, Europe, North America, and South America, but the fish now reside mainly in the eastern half of North and Central America. They can be found in the quiet weedy or rocky areas of freshwater lakes and rivers as far west as Kansas. This species is the most abundant and widely distributed of all other species of gar.
What Do Longnose Gar Eat?
Because they cannot open their mouths very wide, gars primarily eat smaller fish such as shad, sunfish, and little catfish. Longnose gars are surface feeders most of the time and feed both day and night, but are more active at night. Gars do not have any major predators besides the American Alligator in the Southern regions.
Longnose Gar Fishing Tips
- Gars are actually a very under-targeted fish because, with all the bones, they are not very popular to eat.
- These fish are mainly targeted by sport fisherman looking for a challenge and a thrilling catch.
- Fishing for gar is different than fishing for other fish primarily for one reason: you do not have to use a hook. Many gar fishermen use a lure with a long unbraided nylon tail that, when the gar strikes, gets tangled in its sharp teeth.
- The best way to catch a gar is to sight fish. Look for their fins sticking out of the water in the shallows and then cast just past the tail of the fish, running your lure parallel beside them.
- In some states where they are not considered game fish, bow fishermen target the gar.
- Remember that gars have VERY sharp teeth. Be sure you know how to handle them before you go fishing for them!
- Find the correct fishing reel that you feel most comfortable using. The spin cast reel is the easiest to use for a beginner.
- Each state has varying fishing regulations. It is important to educate yourself on them before going out to fish.
- Remember to acquire a fishing permit if taking up this sport. Fishing without a permit is illegal and could result in a fine. Many states allow young children or veterans to fish without a permit.
- Although many fish have an open season of all year, there are some that do not. Look at your state’s regulations to find out when you are allowed to fish.
- Most states have a length limit for their fish. If the fish you caught does not measure the minimum, it is required that you let it go. There are sometimes maximum limits for certain fish as well.
- Most states also have daily limits on the amount of a certain fish you can keep in one day.
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