International Game Fish Association
IGFA Go Fish Museum Conservation Educate Donate Join

Gar, shortnose

(Lepisosteus platostomus)

Rafinesque, 1820; LEPISOSTEIDAE FAMILY

This gar occurs from the Great Lakes south to the Gulf of Mexico, but is essentially limited to the low gradient portions of the Mississippi River basin. It can withstand higher turbidity than most gars, and is common in calm backwater areas of rivers as well as in lakes and other such waters, frequently where little or no aquatic vegetation is present. In U.S. it can be found from northern Alabama to Oklahoma and down through Louisiana to the Gulf. In the north, it has a broad range in the river systems that feed the Mississippi from southern Ohio to Montana.

Because the shortnose gar occurs in many of the same areas (specifically the fertile Mississippi drainage system) as the alligator gar (Lepisosteus spatula), the spotted gar (L. oculatus), and the longnose gar (L. osseus), identifying it involves a process of elimination. It isn't what it is unique for, but rather what the other species have that sets them apart. The alligator gar has two rows of teeth in the upper jaw, while all other gars have only one row. The spotted gar and its close relative the Florida gar (L. platyrhincus) have spots on top of the head, over the entire body, and on all the fins. The spots on other gars are confined mainly to the rear portion of the bodies and on the fins, never on the head. The longnose gar is distinguished by its beak or snout which is 18 20 times as long as it is wide at its narrowest point, a considerably greater length to width ratio than in other species. The beak of the shortnose gar is only about 5½ times as long as its narrowest width.

Like all gars, the shortnose gar is a good sport fish. Though edible, it is not popular. The dark green eggs of the gars are poisonous, and cause violent illness in humans and death in small animals and birds. Fish seem to suffer no harm from them

Go Back to Fish Database

Current All Tackle Record

8 lbs. 3 ounces.

Similar Species


Gar, Florida


Gar, longnose


Gar, spotted