A prehistoric fish drifts the backwaters of the Mississippi River today, waiting to snare unwary passing fish. The longnose gar captures its food with a row of long, needle-sharp teeth on a narrow snout that is twice as long as its head. It waits until the prey is in range then lunges and thrashes its head from side to side, impaling its prey. The gar then maneuvers the prey in order to swallow it head first.
The adult longnose gar’s diet is principally fish, which has given it a bad reputation with anglers. But studies show that longnose gar may help control overpopulation of rough fish.
Longnose gar can live in warm, low-oxygen water where few other fish can survive. This adaptability comes from its unique ability to breathe air taking oxygen from the atmosphere through its swim bladder. Longnose gar have been known to live more than 24 hours completely out of the water.
Its skin is armored with hard, overlapping ,diamond-shaped scales that are so tough that these fish have few predators.
Key ID Features: The longnose gar has a thin, long body, averaging 24-36 inches in length, covered with hard plate-like scales. Its olive back fades to silvery sides with distinct black blotches on its sides and tail fin. In Minnesota, longnose gar run 1-3 pounds but occasionally 10-15 pounds.
For Further Reading
Last updated: November 22, 2019