Discover the Largest Longnose Gar Ever Caught in Florida

Written by Cindy Rasmussen
Published: June 27, 2022
© Mikhail Blajenov/Shutterstock.com
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The longnose gar is a prehistoric-looking fish that may have a history 100 million years old. They are a cylindrical-shaped fish with armor-like scales that can get to be quite large. The average longnose gar is 2-4 feet long and can weigh 25-30 pounds, now that is a good size fish! But you know there are some that get bigger. Florida boasts some of the best fishing in the world. With the Atlantic on the east, the Gulf on the west, and more than 7,500 lakes, ponds, and reservoirs you can understand why the fishing is so good. Let’s look at the largest longnose gar ever caught in Florida.

What is a longnose gar?

Portrait of longnose gar swimming among seaweed.
The longnose gar is around 2-4 feet long and has a long, skinny snout with rows of teeth.

©Mikhail Blajenov/Shutterstock.com

A longnose gar is a freshwater fish in the “gar” family. Other gars include, alligator gar, Cuban gar, tropical gar, Florida gar, spotted gar, shortnose gar, and longnose. All gars have a long snout, one of their unique features, but as you can guess, the longnose gars have a longer thinner snout than the other species. This snout is filled with small, sharp teeth giving it a crocodile-like appearance. Despite their look, they are a slow-moving mild tempered fish that waits for its prey under the surface before snapping at it. They do put up a good fight if caught which is one reason anglers enjoy catching them.

You can find longnose gar in most of the eastern states although the northern states tend to get too cold for the gars to survive. In Florida, they can be found along the coasts in brackish waters, freshwater lakes, swamps, and the backwaters of rivers. Many great fishing spot options!

What is the largest longnose gar ever caught in Florida?

Longnose Gar, one of the oldest fish of our planet
The largest longnose gar ever caught in Florida was a 41 lbs. gar caught by Evan Merritt in 1985.

©Galina Savina/Shutterstock.com

The largest longnose gar ever caught in Florida was 41 pounds! Fisherman Evan Merritt broke his own record when he reeled in this long, torpedo-like fish on Lake Panasoffkee on April 4, 1985. Lake Panasoffkee is in Sumter County, NW of Orlando with the town with the same name on the western shore. The 4,460 acre lake is a Fish Management area and popular for largemouth bass, bowfin, black crappie and bluegills. Clearly, there are large longnose gars as well!

What is the largest longnose gar ever caught in the world?

The largest longnose gar ever caught in the world was 43 pounds! It was caught in the Trinity River in Texas by angler Rock Shaw. The Trinity River is located in northeastern Texas and flows 710 miles into Trinity bay. This record was set on May 7, 2017.

What is the longest longnose gar ever caught in the world?

The record for the longest longnose gar goes to angler Barry Osborn who caught a 91 cm (35.8 inches) gar on April 15, 2022. This one was also caught in Texas! He caught it on Lake Granbury which is a reservoir on the Brazos River in the city of Granbury. Barry is not new to breaking fishing records, in fact, he holds more than 100 world fishing records!

He is a bit of a professional with a Bachelor of Science in Wildlife Biology from Arizona State University and a Master’s in Wildlife and Fisheries Science from Texas A&M University. Whiles some anglers prefer a specific fishing type, rod and reel, or fly fishing, for example, Barry has tried them all and has records in all including rod and reel, bow and arrow, fly rod and hand line.

What are a few other record-breaking gar fish in Florida?

Florida gar swimming in an aquarium
The Florida gar looks similar to the spotted gar but has a shorter snout and spots all over.

©Oyek Photo/Shutterstock.com

The State of Florida officially keeps records on three different gar species, the longnose gar, Florida gar, and alligator gar. Florida gar look similar to spotted gar, and are a bit smaller than longnose gars. Alligator gars have a rounded wide snout that looks like that of an alligator. They are the largest of all the gars. Some have been reported at 8 feet long!

  • Largest longnose gar: 41 lbs., Lake Panasoffkee, Evan Merritt, April 4, 1985
  • Largest Florida gar: 9.44 lbs., Lake Lawnee, Orange County, Patric A. McDaniel, March 25, 2001
  • Largest Alligator gar: 123 lbs., Choctawhatchee River, Walton County, Zachary Phillips, July 8, 1995

What are the largest gars in the world?

The alligator gar (Atractosteus spatula) is a ray-finned euryhaline fish related to the bowfin in the infraclass Holostei.
Alligator gars are the largest gar species. Their average size is 4-6 feet and 100 pounds. The largest ever was 327 pounds!

©TKBackyard/Shutterstock.com

The largest gars in the world are alligator gars. They have a snout that looks like alligators and are an average of 4-6 feet long and 100 pounds when fully grown. But some get even bigger!

What is the largest gar in the world ever recorded?

The largest gar in the world ever recorded was an alligator gar that weighed 327 pounds. It was 8 feet 5 inches long! A queen-size bed is only 6.6 feet long, so this fish was a few feet longer than that! It was actually caught by accident as well. Kenny Williams was a commercial fisherman who fishes for buffalo fish.

On February 14, 2001, he was pulling in his net when it got caught on a log, or what he thought was a log. When he tugged the net closer he could see there was a large gar stuck in the net. He later identified it as an alligator gar. It took him 30 minutes to haul the giant fish up and over into his boat. On shore he had it measured and weighed and was pleased to find out it broke the world record.

How can you catch the next largest longnose gar in Florida?

Lake Talquin Florida
You might be the next lucky angler to catch a record breaking longnose gar in Florida!

©iStock.com/Patrick Jennings

The best time to catch gar is in the summer months and the best place to find them are the tailwaters of some of the locks and dams. The record breaking gar was caught in Lake Panasoffkee, so there may be other large longnose gars there as well. There are thousands of lakes in Florida with amazing fish. Fishing at dawn or dusk is when they seem to be biting the most.

According to Bass Online fishing experts, you can use minnows or cut bait, but the longnose gars seem to really be drawn to shiners. A live 4-6 inch shiner should get their attention. There are a variety of ways to catch longnose gars including trolling, drift fishing, casting and fly fishing. Don’t waste your time on the smaller gars if your goal is to break the Florida record of 41 lbs. This summer could be the summer to break the record!


The Featured Image

Portrait of longnose gar swimming among seaweed.
© Mikhail Blajenov/Shutterstock.com

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About the Author

I'm a Wildlife Conservation Author and Journalist, raising awareness about conservation by teaching others about the amazing animals we share the planet with. I graduated from the University of Minnesota-Morris with a degree in Elementary Education and I am a former teacher. When I am not writing I love going to my kids' soccer games, watching movies, taking on DIY projects and running with our giant Labradoodle "Tango".

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