Air Breathing Catfish

Alligator Gar

Description: Alligator Gar-Common Names – gar, garfish

Description – They are one of the most distinctive freshwater fish species. Alligator gars are the largest of all gar species with a head that looks very much like an alligator’s. They can be distinguished from all other gars species by the two rows of teeth in the upper jaw, their short-broader snout, and their size when fully grown. The body is long, slender, and olive or greenish brown (sometimes black) along the back and upper sides with white to yellow bellies. The sides are mottled toward the head with large black spots toward the rear and on the rear fins. The young have a light stripe along their back from tip of snout to upper base of caudal fin.

Subspecies – There are no recognized subspecies.

Range – Found in the Escambia, Yellow and Choctawhatchee rivers in northwest Florida. They have also been found in the Econfina/Bear Creek area of Bay County.

Habitat – They inhabit sluggish pools and backwaters of large rivers, bayous and lakes. They rarely are found in brackish or salt water.

Spawning Habits – Although complete life history information is lacking, it is believed that alligator gars spawn in early May, probably in a manner similar to other gars.

Feeding Habits – They mainly feed on fish but are known to eat ducks and other water birds.

Age and Growth – They are one of the monsters of fresh waters. They can reach lengths of up to 10 feet and weights of more than 200 pounds.

Sporting Qualities – Because of their huge size and great strength, alligator gars are popular with anglers. They are not a fish that is caught easily because its sharp teeth will cut most lines in an instant. They are sought often by bow-fishermen.

Eating Quality – They are edible, but are not highly rated by most people. As with other gars, the roe is toxic.

World Record – 279.00 pounds, caught in the Rio Grande River, Texas, in 1951.

State Record – 123.00 pounds, caught in the Choctowhatchee River, Walton County, in 1995. (Please check link for updates).

Note: Alligator gar may only be taken by a special research permit, due to their limited numbers and the age at which they reproduce.

For more info on gar fishing check out the Gar Anglers Sporting Society page.

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