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SPOTTED GAR

At-a-Glance

  • Scientific Name: Lepisosteus oculatus
  • Found in Illinois: Mississippi River drainage below the Illinois River confluence, Illinois River basin, Wabash River basin, and southern Illinois
  • State Record: Hook & Line: 7 lbs/13.44 oz (2004); Bowfishing: 10 lbs/2.4 oz (2010)
  • Best Lures: Lambo Lure Spinner or other in-line spinner, rope lures, bait (live or cut)
  • Best Lakes (based on average size): Mermet, Horseshoe (Alexander), Rend, Springfield

Angling Tips:

Gars are commonly targeted by bowfishers, but can also be caught on rod and reel using a variety of lures (e.g.; Lambo Lure Spinner or other in-line spinner and rope lures) and bait (live or cut bait). Due to their aggressive predatory nature and long muscular bodies, gars will strike hard and give a powerful fight when hooked or speared.

Habitat: Spotted Gar are found in quiet, clear pools and backwaters of small to large rivers, oxbow lakes, and swamps with abundant vegetation or debris.

Feeding and Habits: Spotted Gar are opportunistic ambush predators that primarily prey on a broad variety of fishes, but will also target large invertebrates if abundant.

Reproduction: Spotted Gars typically spawn in groups of one female to several males in clear shallow inundated ripariation or vegetated waters. The female typically leads the group through vegetated areas until spawning occurs. Eggs adhere to surrounding vegetation until hatching several days later. Juveniles then use the vegetation as a nursery, which provides protection from predators and flow. Spotted Gar provide no parental care.