#GARWEEK: Gar in Texas

A man and his gar. #GARWEEK

This is Passport to Texas

Alligator gar are Texas’ largest and most long-lived freshwater fish. People claim to see alligator gar just about everywhere in Texas, but they are one of the most misidentified species of fish around.

The main thing Texans need to know is that there are four species of gar in the state of Texas. And it seems like everybody thinks every gar they see is an alligator gar – and that’s not the case.

Michael Baird, a fisheries biologist for parks and wildlife, says even among the four species of gar that occur in Texas —spotted, longnose, shortnose and alligator gar — this species is unique. The easiest way to tell the difference between alligator gar and spotted gar is in the name.

The spotted gar are the only gar species that have spots all over their head and body.

Longnose gar are the most abundant gar species in the state, but the name of this species also clues anglers to the best way to tell them apart from an alligator gar.

The way you can tell the difference between an alligator gar and a longnose gar is from the top of the fish looking down on the head – if it’s alligator like it’s probably an alligator gar. If it has a really narrow snout it’s probably a longnose gar.

The fourth species – shortnose gar – can only be found in Texas on the Red River below Lake Texoma along the Oklahoma and Arkansas borders.

If you’re up there you might see a shortnose gar, if you’re not there you are not going to see one.

Tomorrow: where to find alligator gar in Texas.

The Sport Fish Restoration Program supports our series.

For Texas Parks and Wildlife…I’m Cecilia Nasti.

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