Are Alligator Gar Safe to Eat?

The flesh of the alligator gar is white and firm with a mild taste, comparable to the flesh of many sport fishes that anglers eat. Commercial fisheries exist for the alligator gar in some southern states — a testament to its use as table fare. While the flesh is tasty, it should be noted that the eggs of the alligator gar are toxic and may cause sickness if eaten.

Like all fishes, alligator gar are exposed to contaminants in the waters in which they live, as well as the things they eat. Over time, these contaminants can build up in the fish’s flesh, organs and eggs, and can pose a health risk to humans if consumed. The Texas Department of State Health Services monitors for the presence of harmful contaminants in edible fish tissues and alerts the public through consumption advisories and bans. Consumption advisories tell the public which fish species in a given river or reservoir they need to be concerned about, and provide guidance on how much and how often those fish should be consumed. Consumption bans prohibit the possession or consumption of fish from a listed waterbody; however, catch and release fishing is allowed.

Currently, consumption bans in Texas waters are limited to parts of upper Lavaca Bay (Calhoun County) and the Donna Irrigation System (Hidalgo County). All fish caught from these waters, including alligator gar, must be immediately released. Consumption advisories for alligator gar (and other gar species) are in place on a number of systems. These include the popular fisheries on Lake Livingston and the Trinity River, where no consumption is advised. Details can be found in the Texas Parks and Wildlife Outdoor Annual.