Longnose Gar

Lepisosteus osseus


Image of a longnose gar fish
Joseph R. Tomelleri. Used with permission.

Lepisosteidae (gars) in the order Lepisosteiformes (gars)


Distinct long and narrow snout. The width of the snout at the nostrils is less than the diameter of the eye. Large teeth on the upper jaw in single rows on each side

Brown or dark olive on upper parts, grading to white on the belly. Numerous rounded black spots on the body. Young fish have a distinct midbody stripe.


Total length: commonly to 3 feet; weight: 5-6 pounds; largest in our state are about 60 inches and 30 pounds.

Habitat and conservation

Most widely distributed gar in Missouri, found in nearly every major stream and impoundment in the state. Typically inhabits sluggish pools and backwaters of streams and deeper, open-water areas of lakes.


Like most fish, young gar begin feeding on zooplankton. At 1 to 2 inches in size, they switch to a diet solely of fish.

image of Longnose Gar distribution map
Distribution in Missouri

The most widely distributed gar in Missouri, probably occurring in every major stream in the state. Most abundant in the large reservoirs of the Ozarks.


Nongame fish.

Life cycle

Males rarely live more than 11 years. Females can live 20 years or more. These fish spawn in compact groups, and their spectacular splashing and thrashing can be seen and heard from considerable distances. Newly hatched young have an adhesive disc by which they attach to submerged substrate.