Florida Gars are popular as sport fish. The young feed on zooplankton and insect larvae, as well as small fish. Adults mainly eat fish, shrimp, and crayfish. Although edible, they are unpopular as food. The roe is highly toxic to humans, animals, and birds.
The Florida Gar is a mid-sized species of gar. It measures from 51.7 to 132.2 cm (20.4 to 52.0 in) long and typically weighs 1.36 to 4.36 kg (3.0 to 9.6 lb). According to the IGFA, the record weight for this species is 10 kg (22 lb). This species has irregular round, black spots on the top of its head and over the entire body including the anal fin. The distance of the eyes is less than two-thirds the length of the snout. Also, it has a shorter, broad snout with a single row of irregularly spaced sharp teeth on the upper and lower jaws. No bony scales are on the throat. Their color is olive-brown on the back and upper sides, with a white to yellow belly. The young may have dark stripes on the back and sides.
Florida Gar are relatively easy to catch. Their snouts are wide and therefore provide more of a target to sink a hook. Because of their relative ease of hooking, an angler can use many techniques to land these gar. Easily the best lure for Florida Gar is the Lambo Lure Spinner. It is the only lure made specifically for these fish. Other lures get caught up in the teeth preventing a strong hookset. The Lambo Lure is smooth; the only thing that sticks in the gar are the premium treble hooks. Other in-line spinners like Panther Martin, Mepps, Rooster Tail, and Blue Fox can also be used, but change the standard hooks to premium, terrifically sharp trebles.
In most conditions, a gar angler can use lures to land these gar, but during the colder times of the season, after cold fronts, or when the gar are buried in thick weeds live bait may be preferred. Rig a 4”-5” shiner (live or dead) or a similar sized piece of cut bait on a #4 treble with a #4 treble stinger hook. If weeds are thick, use a 1/0 single and a 1/0 stinger. Cast and use a slow stop-and-go retrieve holding your rod tip up high. When a gar takes, drop the rod tip to give slack and open your bail to let the him run. Let the gar for at least a minute then reel in slack and set the hooks hard.
Florida Gar are found from the Ocklockonee River drainage, Florida and Georgia, southward through peninsular Florida and northward to Savannah River drainage, Georgia. They can be found in medium to large lowland streams, canals, and lakes with muddy or sandy bottoms near underwater vegetation.