International Game Fish Association

The International Game Fish Association is a not-for-profit organization committed to the conservation of game fish and the promotion of responsible, ethical angling practices through science, education, rule making and record keeping.

Gar, Florida

(Lepisosteus platyrhincus)

DeKay, 1842; LEPISOSTEIDAE FAMILY

Found throughout peninsular Florida and in the panhandle as far as the Apalachicola River drainage, where there is evidence that it may hybridize with the spotted gar (Lepisosteus oculatus), its closest relative. The Florida gar also occurs through part of southern Georgia to the Savannah River drainage. West of the Apalachicola River drainage in the western panhandle and throughout several states to the west and northwest of Florida, they are by the spotted gar. Apparently their ranges do not overlap except in the Apalachicola drainage. The Florida gar is relatively common in medium to large lowland streams and lakes with mud or sand bottoms and an abundance of underwater vegetation. It is also abundant in canals, such as the Tmi.

Like the spotted gar, it has spots on top of the head as well as over the entire body and on all the fins. Other gars have spots on the fins and usually on the posterior part of the body only. The Florida and spotted gars can be distinguished from each other mainly by the distance from the front of the eye to the back of the gill cover. In the Florida gar the distance is less than 2/3 the length of the snout, and in the spotted gar it is more than 2/3 the length. The only other gar that is known to occur within the Florida gar's range is the longnose gar (L. osseus) which is found throughout much of the eastern half of the U.S.A., including Florida, at least as far south as Lake Okeechobee. The longnose gar, however, lacks spots on top of its head and its beak is 18 20 times as long as it is wide (at its narrowest point), while the Florida gar's beak is probably less than 5 ½ times as long as it is wide.

Gars are popular as sport fish. Although edible, they are unpopular as food. The roe is highly toxic to humans, animals, and birds

Go Back to Fish Database

Current All Tackle Record

10 lbs. 0 ounces.

Similar Species


Gar, longnose


Gar, shortnose


Gar, spotted