• Family: Lepisosteidae (Gars)
• Other Names: Needlenose gar
• Ohio Status: Sport fish
• Adult Size: Typically 24-36 inches long, can reach over 50 inches. Usually weighs 2-7 pounds, can reach 25 pounds.
• Typical Foods: Feed on small fish, primarily minnows or gizzard shad.
The longnose gar has a very long and narrow snout containing many needle like teeth. Their body is long and cylindrical, covered with diamond-shaped, hard non-overlapping scales. They are olive or brownish colored on their back with a white belly. When they are caught from clear waters they often have numerous dark spots on their sides, fins, and tail. Longnose gar have a much longer snout than any other species of gar and are by far more common in Ohio. Additionally they have fewer spots than the spotted gar but typically more than the shortnose gar.
Habitat and Habits
Longnose gar are by far the most common species of gar found in Ohio. They can be found in both the Lake Erie and Ohio River drainages. They are found in medium to large rivers and prefer areas of little or no flow with clear water. They are also found in the harbors, bays, and other backwaters of Lake Erie. All species of gar have a specialized air bladder that gives them the ability to breathe air. They can often be seen poking their beak out of the waters surface briefly as they take in a gulp of air. Even though they can breathe air they are not obligated to do so, they also have fully functional gills like other fish.
Reproduction and Care of the Young
Spawning takes place in the late May or early June often in shallow riffles. The longnose gar migrates into smaller streams to spawn. The larger females are often chased by two or more smaller males during courtship. The rather large eggs are sticky and adhere to the substrate or aquatic plants. One female produces about 30,000 eggs in a year which hatch about a week after being laid. Newly hatched gar of all species have an adhesive disc on the top of their head which they use to anchor them selves to objects until their yolk sac is absorbed and they begin feeding. Longnose gar attain a length of 12-15 inches in their first year. Males mature at 2-3 years of age and a length of about 24 inches. Females mature at 3-4 years of age and a length of 28 or more inches.