Freshwater Fish - Species

Longnose Gar- Click to enlarge photo

Species Specific Regulations

Longnose gar

Freshwater Fishing License required.

Complete fishing regulations

Guide to Freshwater Fishes

Guide to Freshwater Fishes
(Adobe PDF - 3MB)

Longnose gar (Lepisosteus osseus) - Native

Description: (Anatomy of a Fish)

The longnose gar has long and narrow forceps-like jaws that are more than twice as long as the rest of the head.  The body is olive brown to green with scattered dark oval spots on the body and fins. 

Range:  Statewide in river mainstems

Average Length:  2 ½ to 3 feet

Average Size:  4 pounds

South Carolina State Record: 25 pounds 6 ounces (2008)

Life Expectancy: Approximately 17-20 years

Preferred Habitat

Longnose gar inhabit sluggish or slow-moving waters rivers and reservoirs. 

Food Habits

  • Fish


  • Spawning occurs in May and early June.  A longnose gar female will be courted by several males in a circling ritual in shallow water with splashing and convulsive movements.  Females can deposit up to 77,000 eggs in a spawning season.  The newly-hatched young have a sticky pad on their snouts that allow them to attach to objects. 


Longnose gar belong to a small and primitive family (Lepisosteidae ) with a few species only found in the southeastern United States.  The fish can use its swim bladder as a lung in waters with very poor water quality and low oxygen levels.  The longnose gar will take the bait of an angler seeking other fish species as they are not noted for their food value.  However, gar are very popular in bow fishing. 

Commonly Mistaken Species

One species of fish that is commonly mistaken for this species is:

  • Florida gar  

Literature Cited

Rohde, Fred C, Arndt, Rudolf G., Foltz, Jeffery W., Quattro, Joseph M. 2009. Freshwater Fishes of South Carolina. University of South Carolina Press, Columbia, South Carolina.

Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries Division. 2009. South Carolina Guide to Freshwater Fishes.

Fish Illustration by Duane Raver.