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The Alligator Gar fish identification, its habitats, characteristics, fishing methods.

The Alligator gar is the largest freshwater fish, growing up to 10 feet and over 300 pounds. Females live up to 50 years and males live to at least 26 years old. This species is able to tolerate greater salinities that other gar species and feeds heavily on marine catfish when they are available. The Alligator Gar can survive up to two hours above water.
A combination of understanding the fish and the techniques used to catch them will help you to hook more fish to the end of your line. Better knowing and understanding of the fish that you are trying to catch will make you a more successful angler, whether you are fishing for trout on a river or surfing on the beach or trolling on the open water.

Alligator Gar Fishing The Alligator Gar, Gator Gar, or Atractosteus spatula, also known as Catan, Pejelagarto is a primitive ray-finned fish. The alligator gar is an inhabitant of large rivers, bays, and coastal marine waters from the western Florida panhandle (the Econfina River) west along the Gulf of Veracruz, Mexico, and north in the Mississippi River drainage as far as the lower reaches of the Ohio and Missouri rivers. It has been reported from Lake Nicaragua and the Sapoa River.

    Alligator Gar are large in size and broad, with a short snout and light dorsal stripe. They are dark olive brown on a top and white to yellowish on a belly. All their fins are dark brown blotches. A joint behind the head allows these fish to make nodding head movements. This long streamline fish has a head that is flattened and looks much like an alligator. Their tail is wide and rounded and there are 2 fins on top and bottom just in front of the tail fin. There are 2 more bottom fins, one about half way up the body and another just behind the head. The dorsal and anal fins are placed well back on the body in opposite each other. Alligator gars normally have from 57 to 62 lateral line scales and 23 diagonal scale rows between the anal fin origin and the dorsal midline. The vertical fins are tan with varying numbers of round black spots. They are similar in looks to a pike in body shape.
    The Alligator Gar has 2 rows of large, sharp teeth on either side of the upper jaw, compared to one row in all other gars. Younger individuals may have only one row. These amazingly Alligator-like teeth, along with its snout, give species its name. The dorsal surface of the Alligator Gar is a brown or olive-color, while the ventral surface tends to be a lighter color. Their scales are diamond-shaped and interlocking.

    Alligator Gars inhabit sluggish pools and backwaters of large rivers, swamps, bayous, and lakes. They sometimes enter brackish waters and occasionally saltwater. As you might have figured they feed mainly on fish. Alligator gar are usually found in slow sluggish waters, although running water seems to be necessary for spawning. They often are seen on top of the water on bright days but come to light at night to find smaller fish attracted to the light.
    They eat anything they can get into their mouths! They tend to prey on other fish. Young fish may consume insects. Adults feed primarily on fish, but will also take waterfowl. During the summer, they will gulp air to augment their oxygen supply. Alligator gar feed very little in winter months and can be difficult to catch then.

    Spawning usually occurs in the spring, April - June a female. Female Alligator Gar swim along with two or three males who are swimming in formation with her. Eggs are deposited in shallow water. As she releases 138,000 eggs the males release sperm and the fertilized eggs fall to the bottom and stick to debris there. Females mature at 11 years old, males mature at age 6.

Fishing Methods.
Bait casting, Bow fishing using bait fish. Whole mullet is preferred bait, and many believe in scaling the bait before using it. Because of its huge size and great strength, the alligator gar is popular with anglers. Obviously, it is not a fish that is easily caught, as its sharp teeth will cut most lines in an instant.
    Gar fishing may be quite an exciting and enjoyable sport. Use large treble hooks attached to a steel leader. The leader is tied to the main line with a bobber usually attached above the leader. How heavy your line is depends on your own preference but remember it is quite possible that you will be tangling with a fish that weighs over 100 pounds possibly double that! They aren't line shy so don't let that worry you. It is important to let the big fish take your bait and swallow it before setting the hook. When the bobber takes off, follow it until it stops. This is the fish positioning it to swallow. When the fish starts to move off again is the time to set the hook. Whole mullet is preferred bait, and many believe in scaling the bait before using it.
    The best time of the year for fishing Alligator Gar is July through August. The hotter weather and the less rainfall, the better fishing is. Look for big bends in the river with a deep hole. It is even better if the water above and below the hole is shallow. Alligator gar congregate in these deep holes. Use cut bait that is free floating with the spool open and the clicker on.
    When you hear the clicker go off just gently pick up the rod and turn the clicker off to allow the fish to take line easier. The reason these fish run with the bait is to get away to eat his catch without share it with the other gar. Sometimes they may pull of 100 to 200 yards of the line on your spool, but be patient. If you set the hook too early the hook may not be in the softer area of his mouth yet. After the fish stops, engage the spool, reel in all of the slack line and when you feel tension on the line, set the hook as hard as you can. With so much line out you must set the hook more than once to ensure a good penetrating hook set. Then the fight is on! Make sure your drag is set correctly or you might get pulled in the water.
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