Gar are ancient fish, little changed since the days of the dinosaur. The longnose gar's needle-like nose, suit-of-armor scales, and long body make it look like no other fish you might see in Minnesota. An inhabitant of warm, quiet waters, the gar is known for its sharp teeth and aggressive nature.
General description:The longnose gar has a thin, long body covered with hard diamond-shaped scales. Its pointy mouth is filled with teeth.
Size: In Minnesota, longnose gar grow up to 5 feet long. The Minnesota record longnose gar, caught in the St. Croix River, weighed 16 pounds, 12 ounces.
Color: The longnose gar is greenish brown with dark spots on its fins and sometimes on its body.
Longnose gar breed in spring in sloughs and streams. A single female is accompanied by up to 15 males as she lays her big, bright green eggs (which are poisonous when eaten by humans). The fish swim wildly around each other as they release eggs and milt. Eggs hatch in about a week. When the young hang around at the surface of the water, they look like tiny floating sticks.
Gar are aggressive predators of other fish.
Gar are rarely eaten by fish or humans.
Habitat and range
Longnose gar are found in shallow lakes and rivers in southern and central Minnesota. They can live in very warm water with little oxygen.
Population and management
Gar are abundant in much of Minnesota and are in no danger of overharvest. Because they eat walleyes and other sport fish, some anglers consider gar an undesirable species. However, research has shown that gar eat mostly minnows and carp.
In addition to breathing through gills, gar can also take in oxygen by swimming to the surface and gulping air into their swim bladders. This ability to "breathe" means they can survive in water that has almost no oxygen. They can even live out of water for many hours, as long as their bodies stay moist.