The longnose gar is a primitive-looking fish with a long, spotted body and a slender, beak-like snout. It lives in quiet, fresh- and brackish-water tributaries throughout the Chesapeake Bay watershed.
The longnose gar has a long, cylindrical body that varies in color from brown to dark olive, with a pale, silvery or whitish belly. It has hard, diamond-shaped scales all over its body. Dark spots appear on its back, fins and sides. It has a long, slender, beak-like snouth with sharp teeth. It grows 5 to 6 feet in length and can weigh as much as 50 pounds. Females are generally larger than males.
Most often found in weedy, quiet fresh waters, including lakes, streams, backwaters and large creeks. Also common around shallow mud flats.
Lives in fresh and brackish tributaries throughout the Chesapeake Bay watershed.
Voracious feeders, longnose gar eat a variety of small crustaceans and fish, including perch, sunfish and menhaden. It hunts for its prey by lying motionless in the water until a fish passes by, then using its long jaws to snap onto prey and swallow it headfirst.
The longnose gar has no major predators due to its heavy armor of hard, thick scales. It may be preyed upon by fish-eating birds such as ospreys.
Spawning occurs in May to June in shallow, weedy fresh waters. Several males often approach one female, who eventually settles on a spawning area. The female lays large, sticky, green eggs that are extremely poisonous to humans, animals and birds. Females can lay 30,000 eggs per year. After laying eggs, both parents leave the nursery area; they do not care for their eggs. If the female lays her eggs in another fish’s nest, that fish may care for the gar eggs in addition to its own. Males mature at 3 to 4 years old, while females mature at 6 years old. Longnose gar can live up to 20 years.