As Big As a Refrigerator! The Largest Longnose Gar Ever Caught in Mississippi

Written by Cindy Rasmussen
Updated: June 16, 2023
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Key Points:

  • Alligator gars are the largest among garfish species, with some individuals reaching lengths of over 8 feet and weighing nearly 300 pounds.
  • Although they can reach a respectable 6 ½ feet, they are not the largest gars overall.
  • The largest alligator gar ever caught in Mississippi weighed 215 pounds and was caught by Earl Stafford while fishing on the Mississippi River near Natchez, MS.

Mississippi is known for some of the finest fishing in the south with brag-worthy catches being hauled in all along the Mississippi River and in the Delta. While flashy catfish may make the headlines more often like a 131-pound record-breaking blue cat that was caught just last spring by Eugene Cronley, other fish species deserve some recognition as well.

Garfish can get surprisingly large and the longnose gar is one of the most common gars in the US. But just how big does longnose gar get? Does Mississippi have some of the largest longnose gars? How does the Mississippi record compare to the world record? Read on to discover all about the largest longnose gar ever caught in Mississippi!

What is a Longnose Gar?

A longnose gar is a long slender fish with a long skinny snout. Its snout, or beak, is lined with rows of tiny sharp teeth. Longnose gar are typically around four feet long, picture four-footlong sub sandwiches in a row, so they are good-sized fish! Some have even been recorded at 6 ½ feet long.

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Their bodies are covered in diamond-shaped scales which are quite thick and protective. They do have a dorsal fin but instead of it being located in the middle of their back like most fish, it is way in the back almost at the tail. The pectoral, pelvic, and anal fins all appear to be tucked under the fish.

Longnose gar are typically 4 feet in length

Longnose gar are typically around four feet long with a dorsal fin at the back almost like a tail.

©Galina Savina/Shutterstock.com

Are Longnose Gar the Largest Gar Fish?

No, although they can reach 6 ½ feet they are not the largest gars. Alligator gars are the largest of the garfish with some reaching 8+ feet and weighing nearly 300 pounds! The largest alligator gar ever caught in Mississippi was 215 pounds, caught by Earl Stafford while fishing on the Mississippi River near Natchez, MS.

This was in the rod and reel division, the most commonly compared record division. However, the state of Mississippi also keeps records in a trophy division, and a 234-pound alligator gar was caught in Mississippi by R. Belk & R. Rippy. Now that’s a big catch!

Alligator gars are the largest of the gar fish

Alligator gars are the largest of the garfish with some weighing nearly 300 pounds.

©Bill Roque/Shutterstock.com

Are Longnose Gar Freshwater or Saltwater Fish?

Longnose gar are freshwater fish and live in the Mississippi River and its tributaries. You can also find them in the brackish waters of the Mississippi River Delta. They can be found all along the Mississippi as far north as Minnesota, as well as in the Great Lakes. Longnose gar has one of the largest ranges of garfish in the US. They can be found as far south as Lake Okeechobee in Florida and also along the Rio Grande in Texas.

What is the Largest Longnose Gar Ever Caught in Mississippi?

The largest longnose gar ever caught in Mississippi was 48 pounds 1 ounce. The Mississippi Wildlife, Fisheries, and Parks Department has the state rod and reel record being held by Don Henson from Southaven, MS. Henson was out fishing in the Sardis Lake spillway with a lucky bait of a 3-inch whole shad.

According to news reports, Henson knew he snagged a huge fish but thought it was a massive catfish at first. It didn’t take him long to figure out it was a longnose gar. Sardis Lake is about 180 miles north of Jackson, MS. The record was set on September 10, 2016, and is now a six-year-old record standing.

The largest longnose gar ever caught in Mississippi weighed 48 pounds 1 ounce

The largest longnose gar ever caught in Mississippi was in 2016, weighing 48 pounds 1 ounce.

©iStock.com/User10095428_393

What is the Largest Longnose Gar Ever Caught in the World?

According to the International Game Fish Association, the all-tackle world record for longnose gar is 43 pounds, caught by Rock Shaw in the Trinity River in Texas. His record was set on May 7, 2017.

According to the Fresh Water Fishing Hall of Fame and Museum, the largest longnose gar ever caught was Don Henson’s from Mississippi. It is unclear if Henson’s 48-pound 1-ouncer didn’t qualify for the IGFA record or if he decided not to have it listed. There are sometimes line-class rules and regulations that affect official records.

You need to check out the Fresh Water Fishing Hall of Fame Museum! The museum itself is housed in a giant fish sculpture! The giant muskie sculpture is 143 feet long and houses artifacts, stories, and records from freshwater fishing. Worth the visit if you happen to be passing through Hayward, Wisconsin.

What is the Best Way to Catch Longnose Gar?

If you want to catch the next largest longnose gar in Mississippi you might need some tips! Longnose gar are slow-moving fish so it is more about finding them than catching them. They can be found in areas with heavy vegetation as they like to have plenty of vegetation to hide in.

According to fishing experts, using shiners for bait or shallow-running bass crankbait is a good way to attract gar. Use a 50-60 pound test strength braid line so you know you will have a line that can potentially handle a big catch. You will want to try to land your lure next to the gar, not in front, because longnose gar snap sideways.

Fishing near vegetation

Longnose gar can be found in areas with heavy vegetation as they like to have plenty of vegetation to hide in.

©Bonita R. Cheshier/Shutterstock.com

Where is the Best Place to Fish for Longnose Gar in Mississippi?

The current record holder was caught in the Sardis Lake spillway so that might be a great place to start. Sardis Lake is a 98,000-acre lake in northern Mississippi, with multiple areas where longnose gar are known to hang out. Longnose gar also prefers waters below dams.

They spend most of their time in calm waters but venture out into faster-moving water to search for food. The Delta where the Mississippi River spills into the Gulf is also an area to search for longnose gar. Mississippi has some good-sized longnose gar just waiting to give you a run for your money, but first, you have to find them! Good luck!

Where is Sardis Lake in Mississippi Located on a Map?

Sardis Lake, a vast 98,520-acre reservoir, stretches along the Tallahatchie River, flowing through Lafayette, Panola, and Marshall counties in Mississippi. The lake owes its existence to the mighty Sardis Dam, which stands proudly nine miles southeast of the town of Sardis. Notably, this remarkable water body is conveniently positioned within a mere hour’s drive from the bustling city of Memphis, Tennessee.

Here is Sardis Lake on a map:

The photo featured at the top of this post is © 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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