Shortnose Gar (Lepisosteus platostomus)

Drawing of Shortnose Gar (Lepisosteus platostomus

Illustration © TPWD

Other Names
Billy Gar, Short-billed Gar, Stub-nose Gar
Lepisosteus is Greek, meaning "bony scale", and platostomus is also Greek, meaning "broad mouth." Shortnose gar may be distinguished from other Texas species in that they lack the double row of teeth in the upper jaw of the alligator gar, the long snout of the longnose gar, and the spots of the spotted gar.
Life History
Shortnose gar spawning activity may occur from May into July. Females are often accompanied by more than one male. Yellow eggs are scattered in vegetation and other submerged structures, usually hatching within eight days of spawning. The fry remain in the yolk-sac phase for another week, at which time they begin to feed on insect larvae and small crustaceans. At little over an inch in length, fish appear in the diet. Sexual maturity is usually achieved when fish reach about 15 inches in length. Shortnose gar are more tolerant of high turbidity than other gar species.
They inhabit large rivers and their backwaters, as well as oxbow lakes and large pools.
Shortnose gar are present in the Mississippi River drainage from the Gulf Coast as far north as Montana in the west, and the Ohio River in the east. In Texas, shortnose gar may be found in the Red River basin below Lake Texoma.
As with alligator gar, shortnose gar may be captured by entangling the teeth in nylon threads or by bowfishing. Shortnose gar up to five pounds have been brought in by anglers. The Texas state record, captured with a bow and arrow in Lake Lavon, weighed in at 11.15 pounds and measured in excess of 37 inches.