The Shortnose Gar is a primitive freshwater fish of the family Lepisosteidae. Shortnose Gar are ancient fish, little changed since the days of the dinosaur. An inhabitant of warm, quiet waters, the gar is known for its sharp teeth and aggressive nature. They have several unusual features including rectangular scales found only in primitive fishes, and a gas bladder that can function like a lung. All fish have gas bladders, which they use to regulate their buoyancy, but the gas bladder of a Shortnose Gar can extract the oxygen from air that is swallowed. Consequently, Shortnose Gar can survive in waters that have very little oxygen where most other fish would perish. Gar eggs are poisonous to humans.
Shortnose Gar have a prehistoric-looking appearance. Like many other "lie-in-wait" predators, they have an elongated, torpedo-like body with an elongated head containing one row of sharp, conical teeth. Similar to many Paleozoicand Mesozoic actinopterygians, their bodies are covered in rows of interlocking, rhomboidal ganoid scales that create an exceptionally protective, yet flexible armor around the fish. The dorsal fin is located posterior nearly directly above the anal fin and very near the large caudal fin. Shortnose Gar vary in color, changing from brown/olive green on the dorsal surface to yellow on the sides and white on the underbelly. Shortnose Gar can be discerned from other gar species in that they lack the upper jaw of the Alligator Gar, the long snout of the Longnose Gar, and the markings of the Spotted Gar. The Shortnose Gar reaches up to 88 cm (35 in), but a more common length is 62.5 cm (24.6 in).
If angling for Shortnose Gar, a small circle-style hook should be used, allowing the Shortnose Gar several minutes with it. The circle hook will prevent any serious injury to the Shortnose Gar, as it is designed to catch only in the corner of the mouth. The fish are known as nocturnal feeders in some waters, so anglers should be prepared to angle for them in the twilight. They are relatively easy to catch. Their snouts are wide and therefore provide more of a target to sink a hook. In most conditions, a Shortnose 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. If weeds are thick, use a 1/0 single and a 1/0 stinger other case use a rig a 4”-5” shiner or a similar sized piece of cut bait on a #4 treble with a #4 treble stinger hook. Cast and use a slow stop-and-go retrieve holding your rod tip up high. When a Shortnose 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.
Shortnose Gar are present in the Mississippi River system, ranging from the Gulf Coast as far north as Montana in the west, and the Ohio River in the east. In Texas, Shortnose Gar may be found in the Red River basin below Lake Texoma. The Shortnose Gar is widely distributed throughout North America within the Missouri and Mississippi River system.