SCIENTIFIC NAME: Lepisosteus osseus
CHARACTERISTICS: Longnose gars have from 58 to 64 lateral line scales and 20 to 23 diagonal scale rows counting obliquely from the anal fin origin to the dorsal midline. The width of the snout at the nostrils is less than the eye diameter. The body is olive green to light brown on the back, cream to white on the venter, and has 57 to 64 lateral scales. Predorsal scale rows usually number from 47 to 55. The fins are light gray to clear with a few scattered dark spots.
ADULT SIZE: 3.9 to 5.9 ft (1.2 to 1.8 m). The state angling record (32 lb, 14 oz) was caught in Jordan Reservoir on the Coosa River in 1985.
DISTRIBUTION: Longnose gars occur in every river system in Alabama except the Escatawpa. Reports by Wiley (1979) and Boschung (1992) provide limited longnose gar records in the Tennessee River system. However, information obtained from Tennessee Valley Authority biologists and supplemented by our 1991-93 collection data from 23 stations indicates that the species is more common than was previously believed. Several dozen individuals up to 4 feet in total length were observed suspended at the water surface in both Paint Rock River and Bear Creek during our 1993 boat electrofishing efforts. Future sampling, particularly in the Tennessee River drainage, should increase the known range of this species in Alabama.
HABITAT AND BIOLOGY: Longnose gars inhabit rivers and reservoirs, large streams, and swamps. They seem to prefer flowing water, and during the spring spawning season, we have observed large numbers of gravid adults congregated in tailwater areas below every lock and dam in the Mobile basin. This species also ventures into brackish and even salt water, where it is infrequently landed by anglers. Pflieger (1975) reports that longnose gars spawn from early May into June in Missouri. We observed spawning aggregations of adult males and females in May. Individuals were congregated in a slow to moderate current of rocky riffles and runs of the lower Coosa River main channel in Elmore County. A few days later, adhesive gar eggs were found on cobble and rubble substrate in this same riffle area.
ORIGINAL DESCRIPTION: Linnaeus described the longnose gar in 1758.
Lepisosteus means bony scale.
Osseus means bony.
The copyrighted information above is from Fishes of Alabama and the Mobile Basin.
ADDITIONAL COMMON NAMES: In the southeast, anglers also call longnose gar: longnose garpike, and needlenosed gar, according to Cloutman and Olmstead in Fisheries (Vol. 8, No. 2).
Gar fishing tips may be found at www.garfishing.com/
Note: In Alabama, it is illegal to stock or move any fish, mussel, snail or crayfish to any public water without a permit.
This longnose gar caught from Pickwick Lake by Mr. Zyck on 8 pound test line probably weighed close to the state record of 32 pounds, 14 ounces. It was 62 inches long.