How to identify a Shortnose Gar
Because the shortnose gar occurs in many of the same areas (specifically the fertile Mississippi drainage system) as the alligator gar, the spotted gar, and the longnose gar, identifying it involves a process of elimination. It isnt 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 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 is at its narrowest point, a considerable greater length to width ratio than in other species. The beak of the shortnose gar is only about 5 1/2 times as long as its narrowest width.
Where to catch Shortnose Gar
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 the 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. The following list includes additional details on where to catch this fish: