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Florida Gar

SCIENTIFIC NAME : Lepisosteus platyrhincus

OTHER NAMES: Gar, Garfish

RANGE: They are found in the Ochlocknee River and waters east and south in peninsular Florida.

HABITAT: They inhabit medium-to-large lowland streams, canals and lakes with mud or sand bottoms near underwater vegetation. Like all gars, they use an air bladder to breathe air to survive in poorly oxygenated water.

DESCRIPTION: They have irregular round, black spots on the top of the head and over the entire body and on all the fins. Other gars, except for spotted gars, have spots on the fins and usually on the posterior part of the body. They can be distinguished from other gars, such as spotted gars, by the distance from the front of the eye to the back of the gill cover. In Florida gars, the distance is less than two-thirds the length of the snout. In spotted gars, the distance is more than two-thirds the length of the snout. Other characteristics of Florida gars include a shorter, broader snout with a single row of irregularly spaced sharp teeth on both upper and lower jaws and no bony scales on the throat. The coloration is olive-brown along the back and upper sides with a white-to-yellow belly. The young sometimes have dark stripes along back and sides.

SIZE: Females grow faster, bigger, and live longer than males and can attain lengths in excess of 3 feet.

FLORIDA RECORD : 21 pounds.

FOOD VALUE: None. The roe of a gar is poisonous to man, birds and other fish.

GAME QUALITIES: Gar are a sporty fighter, although they are not fished for much..

TACKLE AND BAITS: They can be taken with minnows and artificial lures or during daylight by spearing (although not by spear gun) and snagging them with treble hooks. They are popular with bow-fishermen and anglers using frayed nylon cord as a lure snag, which entangles the gars teeth.



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