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Alligator Gar Fact Sheet

By March 27, 2012

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Alligator gar are ugly fish that get huge. They are some of the biggest fish in North America, reaching 350 pounds and 10 feet long. Found along the Gulf coast from the Florida panhandle around to Mexico and north up the Mississippi River drainage to the mouth of the Missouri and Ohio Rivers, they like sluggish rivers and lakes.
Alligator Gar Fact Sheet


December 12, 2007 at 11:38 pm
(1) Scharolette Chappell says:

I had a newspaper clip from what I believe to be the Hardin County Independence Rosiclare Illinois. This was a picture of what was said to be an alligator gar caught by my grandfather Raymond Burke, back in 1945 to 1950. He was fishing the Ohio River when he caught it in his nets. It weighed in at 365 lbs, and way taller than the 6ft. 2 man it was taken standing there. the following week grandpa’s nets were torn to shreds around the same area, he believed it to be the mate? Seemed like the head was much bigger than that of an alligator gar. I have been trying to locate the clip, just a small story about how grandpa, brought it to Cave in Rock in Rosiclare there was surely other photos taken at the time. How can I find out about this, Help! thanks, Scharolette

December 20, 2007 at 9:22 pm
(2) fishing says:

The only thing I can suggest is to go to the paper and ask if they have archieves.

As far as it being an alligator gar, they usually don’t live that far north. Could it have been a sturgeon?

June 5, 2008 at 10:55 am
(3) scharolette says:

Yeah, I tried the paper archives, they said there was a fire and all distroyed.

My grandfather had caught sturgeon before, it wasn’t a sturgeon, this was about 10 ft long, weighed 365 lbs, scientist from Chicago were supposed to come down to southern Illinois and determine what it was, once they did, they could only determine by the remains, someone had taken it across the river and skinned it out. So the story goes. This sounds like a big fish story but it was true, many people saw it and it was in the news. If alligator gar are not in the Ohio River near Paducah Kentucky then what could this big fish have been? Besides a sturgeon I mean? Didn’t resemble a sturgeon. Grandpa owned a fish market back in the 40′s through the 60′s he had caught tons of fish, one catfish weighed in at 103 lbs, over 50 lbs were everyday catches. Grandpa, would string his nets through the house on nails in the door jams and repair them as my sister, cousins, and me would load the shuttle, back and forth with the line to keep him going. I wish I could remember exactly how he tied each knot!

June 14, 2008 at 9:34 pm
(4) fishing says:

It must have been an alligator gar. I guess they could go up the river that far without any problem. Interesting story. I don’t know what knot is used to tie nets but I don’t think I would have the patience to do one!

March 5, 2010 at 2:01 pm
(5) sponge bob says:

I own a cabin in southern Il. by the ohio river and the strip pit lakes right next to the river that flood from the ohio are FULL of alligator gar. They hit my lures all the time but are tough to hook. I have seen some HUGE gar sufacing in these ponds.

March 9, 2010 at 12:37 pm
(6) fishing says:

That is out of the range for Alligator Gar but others, like the long nose gar, get real big. Any chance the ones you see are a different kind? Alligator gar have very flat, wide heads while the others have long thin snouts.

June 5, 2010 at 1:39 pm
(7) lori says:

I grew up along the ohio river and have been around the river my adult life as well. Alligator gar are there, we have caught too many to count when we have been fishing through out the years.

June 7, 2010 at 1:37 pm
(8) fishing says:

I would like to see some pictures of them. What is the biggest you have caught?

September 1, 2010 at 12:31 am
(9) James Montgomery says:

I’m just curious, I seen the comments lori and sponge bob made and was wondering did they ever come up with ant pics back what they was saying?? I live along the Ohio River too, in Eastern Kentucky. I ‘ve caught several longnose gar, and I’ve had to correct some locals that seen me catch them, that they wasn’t Aligator Gar.

September 3, 2010 at 1:33 pm
(10) fishing says:

I have not received any pictures, was looking forward to seeing them.

September 22, 2010 at 2:04 pm
(11) cara says:

we just started kayaking in a different part of julington creek, jacksonville, fl, farther from where it meets st. john’s river and discovered that the creek has a lot of gar. we just about used all the different kinds of lures and baits trying to catch them, but they seemed so uninterested. any suggestions?

September 23, 2010 at 6:57 pm
(12) fishing says:

Try a sliver spoon with a white frayed nylon cord trailer – about six inches long. That will tangle in their teeth. Sometimes, when they are just “hovering” in slack water they don’t seem to want to move an hit anything.

January 18, 2011 at 3:19 am
(13) Glenn says:

me an couple buddies of mine was skipping school one day using a trail by big sandy river, saw something thought it was a log but realized it was swimming against the current towarrds a family of ducks me an one other guy chaced back to get a look at it it had the head of an alligator but when it dove under the water its body looked like that of an otter this was a few years back, open to sugguestions, was told its a bill gar, heard whatever was used to be hunted by boat with spear an are highly agressive

January 18, 2011 at 11:45 am
(14) fishing says:

I have not heard of a bill gar. There are alligator gar and they get huge, but are limited to southern gulf states. And their bodies look like a fish, not an otter. Where are you located? Sounds interesting!

February 25, 2011 at 4:53 pm
(15) Gillian says:

Alligator gar inhabit the lower and middle Ohio, but it’s unlikely their range extends upstream to the Big Sandy River. While I was a student at Murray State a commercial fisherman caught an alligator gar that measured 7 feet in length in Kentucky Lake near Cypress Creek at the KY-TN stateline. Kentucky waters also support three other gar species: longnose, shortnose and spotted gar. Though these species can grow to 4 or 5 feet in length none grow as large as the alligator gar.

March 10, 2011 at 5:21 am
(16) lolhw says:

Noobs alligator Gars are ancient creatures and we should respect them!

June 24, 2011 at 8:00 pm
(17) redrider says:

I have a picture of a gar fish that I took when I was fishing in the Big Sandy River. I was fishing the river where it runs between Louisa Kentucky and Fort Gay West Virginia. It was about a foot and a half long and it was near the bank in shallow water. It had a long nose and at first I mistakened it for a small piece of driftwood. So there are definitely gar fish in the Big Sandy but I am just not sure which kind.

June 25, 2011 at 6:48 pm
(18) fishing says:

There are five or six kinds of gar including long nose, spotted short nose, Florida and Alligator, all recognized by the IGFA for sport fish records.

April 3, 2012 at 2:24 am
(19) outdoorsguy says:

I actually live in Northwest Iowa and I have caught Alligator gar in West okoboji and big spirit lake. It was a relatively small one (21″ and a half and about 3 pounds) but it was confirmed by a Iowa DNR officer that was patrolling and making sure fisherman had their licenses

April 9, 2012 at 2:57 pm
(20) Mikey says:

Alligator gar is a generic name given to all GAR by people who don’t know any better. The best way to tell if you have a gator gar is to check for more than one row of teeth. Longnose or needle nose are exactly that, named for the long nose. Short nose gar and spotted gar are very similar to each other with spots and all but the short nose will be really blunt. similar to a pike or jack fish (southern version of a pike) The spotted gar is spotted. No extreme thought put into naming these gar. Gator gar when larger tend to take on a grey color with no distinct markings except spots around the tails and of course the clearer the water the darker the color. Check the teeth to identify the gator gar.That means capturing one. You should notice a couple of rows of teeth of varying sizes and often times not in any particular pattern. My preferred method is a bowfishing set up. Gar will chase white spinner baits, nylon rope (gar gum) and any fish that will fit in there mouth like bream or perch, tilapia, carp, and any other you dont mind wasting. Shad are often seen in the mouths of all the species.. Typically the bigger the bait the bigger the gar you will have a chance of catching. They do not attack or feed on anything they can’t swallow. Swimmers are safe but the teeth will scrape you if you handle the snout.

August 15, 2012 at 8:52 pm
(21) longnose gar says:

the proof isnt there there is no alligator gar in the ohio river you guys are just making people get excited over nothing its longnose gar

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