Gars are easily distinguished from other freshwater species by long, slender, cylindrical bodies, their long snouts, and by the fact that they are equipped with diamond shaped interlocking (ganoid) scales. Additionally, the dorsal and anal fins are placed well back on the body, and nearly opposite each other. The tail fin is rounded. Alligator gar may be distinguished from other gars by the presence of two rows of large teeth on either side of the upper jaw in large young and adults. Coloration is generally brown or olive above, and lighter underneath. Lepisosteus is Greek, meaning bony scale, and spatula is Latin for spoon, referring to the creatures broad snout.
Little is known about the biology of this huge fish. They appear to spawn in the spring beginning sometime in May. Eggs are deposited in shallow water. Alligator gar are usually found in slow sluggish waters, although running water seems to be necessary for spawning. Young fish may consume insects. Adults feed primarily on fish, but will also take waterfowl. The species is able to tolerate greater salinities than other gar species and feeds heavily on marine catfish when available.
Alligator gar are present in the Gulf of Mexico coastal plain from the Econfina River in west Florida west and south to Veracruz, Mexico. The species range extends north in the Mississippi River basin to the lower reaches of the Missouri and Ohio rivers. An isolated population also occurs in Nicaragua. In Texas alligator gar may be found in coastal rivers and streams from the Red River west to the Rio Grande.
Gar have traditionally been considered rough fish by the majority of anglers. However, for a relatively few mavericks gar fishing may be quite an exciting and enjoyable sport. In Texas, alligator gar have been captured up to 279 pounds by rod and reel anglers, and over 300 pounds by trotliners. In the Southeastern part of the state gar are commonly accepted as a fine food fish. Alligator gar are often taken by anglers using nylon threads, rather than hooks, to entangle the fishes many sharp teeth, by bowfishing(Bow and Arrow) or With Jug-Lines.
MANUEL Z's GAR RIG
Lepisosteus is Greek, meaning "bony scale," and osseus is Latin, meaning "of bone." Longnose gar are distinguished from other gar species found in Texas by the long snout whose length is at least 10 times the minimum width.
Spawning activity occurs as early as April, in shallow riffle areas. Females, typically the larger sex, may be accompanied by one or many males. Although nests are not prepared, gravel is swept somewhat by the spawning action itself. Each female may deposit a portion of her eggs at several different locations. The adhesive eggs are mixed in the gravel. They hatch in six to eight days. Yolk-sac fry have an adhesive disc on their snouts by which they attach themselves to submerged objects until the yolk sac is absorbed. Fry feed primarily on insect larvae, and small crustaceans such as water fleas. Fish appear in the diet very early. Longnose gar are typically associated with backwaters, low inflow pools and moderately clear streams and often do very well in man-made impoundments.
Longnose gar range widely throughout the eastern U.S. and north into southern Quebec. The species is especially common in the Mississippi River drainage and in the Carolinas. They may be found as far south and west as the Rio Grande drainage in Mexico, Texas and New Mexico. Longnose gar appear in most Texas rivers.
Longnose gar may be captured by entangling the teeth in nylon threads, or by bowfishing. In Texas, Longnose gar in excess of 80 pounds have been landed using a bow and arrow.
Lepisosteus is Greek, meaning "bony scale," and platostomus is also Greek, meaning "broad mouth." Shortnose gar may be distinguished from other Texas species in that they lack the double row of teeth in the upper jaw of the alligator gar, the long snout of the Longnose gar, and the spots of the spotted gar.
Shortnose gar spawning activity may occur from May into July. Females are often accompanied by more than one male. Yellow eggs are scattered in vegetation and other submerged structures, usually hatching within eight days of spawning. The fry remain in the yolk-sac phase for another week, at which time they begin to feed on insect larvae and small crustaceans. At little over an inch in length, fish appear in the diet. Sexual maturity is usually achieved when fish reach about 15 inches in length. Shortnose gar are more tolerant of high turbidity than other gar species. Shortnose gar inhabit large rivers and their backwaters, as well as oxbow lakes and large pools.
Shortnose gar are present in the Mississippi River drainage from the Gulf Coast as far north as Montana in the west, and the Ohio River in the east. In Texas Shortnose gar may be found in the Red River basin below Lake Texoma.
As with alligator gar, Shortnose gar may be captured by entangling the teeth in nylon threads, or by bowfishing. Shortnose gar up to five pounds have been brought in by anglers. There is no state record reported for Shortnose gar in Texas. However, the world all-tackle record stands at five pounds.
Lepisosteus is Greek, meaning "bony scale," and oculatus is Latin, meaning "provided with eyes." This last is probably a reference to the many dark spots on the head and body. Spotted gar may be distinguished from other Texas species by the dark roundish spots on the top of the head, the pectoral fins and on the pelvic fins.
Spawning activity occurs as early as April; in flowing water. Fry feed primarily on insect larvae and small crustaceans. As with other gar species, fish appear in the diet very early. Adult diets may be comprised of over 90% fish. Spotted gar are less tolerant of turbidity than Shortnose gar. They are typically associated with aquatic vegetation, or timber, in clear water.
Spotted gar are found from central Texas east into western Florida. The species range extends north through the Missisippi River drainage into Illinois, and the lower Ohio River. Populations also occur in the Lake Erie drainage.
As with other gar species, spotted gar may be captured by entangling the teeth in nylon threads, or by bowfishing. In Texas, bowfishers have landed spotted gar up to 15 pounds.
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