Game Fish Identification Reference Guides

Gar, alligator
(Atractosteus spatula)
Lacepede, 1803; LEPISOSTEIDAE
FAMILY; also called pejelagarto, catán,
The alligator gar is an inhabitant of large rivers, bays, and coastal marine waters from the western Florida panhandle (the Econfina River) west along the Gulf of Veracruz, Mexico, and north in the Mississippi River drainage as far as the lower reaches of the Ohio and Missouri rivers. It has been reported from Lake Nicaragua and the Sapoa River.
Believed to grow to over 300 lb (136 kg) with a head that looks very much like an alligator's, it is certainly one of the most distinctive freshwater species. It can be distinguished from all other gars by the two rows of teeth in the upper jaw, its broader snout, and its size when fully grown. All other gars have one row of teeth in the upper jaw. In most other respects all gars are very similar in appearance, with a long body, a long, toothy snout, and a single dorsal fin that is far back on the body above the anal fin and just before the tail. The tail is rounded and the pectoral, ventral, and anal fins are fairly evenly spaced on the lower half of the body. The gars most closely resemble the fishes of the pike family (muskellunge, northern pike, and the pickerels, Esox spp.) in body shape and fin placement. In these fishes the tail is forked, not rounded.
Because of its huge size and great strength, the alligator gar is popular with anglers. Obviously, it is not a fish that is easily caught, as its sharp teeth will cut most lines in an instant. They are edible, but are not highly rated by most people. The roe (eggs) should never be eaten as it is toxic to man, animals, and birds (but apparently not to other fish), and will cause severe illness in people and sometimes death in smaller animal

Current All Tackle Record

279 lbs 0oz ( 126.55 kg)

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