The freshwater lakes, rivers, streams, and swampy areas of Georgia, South Carolina, and North Carolina are filled with an abundance of fish varieties. These states will likely have one or more types of these gars swimming in its bodies of freshwater. The gar fish is a unique-looking species, likely because they date back to when dinosaurs roamed the earth. Beyond appearance, they are a popular gamefish because of both the fight they put up and anglers’ desire to have a photo taken because of the teeth-lined mouths. Just what is the difference between longnose gar, spotted gar, and Florida gar.

What is a Longnose Gar

The longnose gar is one of the most widely distributed gars in the United States. It is easily identifiable and very abundant. 

How to Identify a Longnose Gar

When it comes to identifying a longnose gar, the body is long and shaped like a tube. The shell is armor-plated with scales that appear like diamonds. Along the dorsal fin, the color ranges from olive to brown and fades to white or silver toward the bottom. The sides of the fish are covered in black spots. Its snout is exceptionally long and lined with razor-sharp teeth. 

As far as size is concerned, they can exceed six feet and 50 pounds but are most common between two and four feet. 

Range of a Longnose Gar

The range of a longnose gar is vast. The fish is well distributed throughout North Carolina, Georgia, and South Caroline. 

Habitat of a Longnose Gar

When you see vegetation in the water, keep an eye out for longnose gar at the surface. They are prevalent in lakes, rivers, backwater swampy areas, and primarily where there is little flow. 

What Do Longnose Gar Eat?

Longnose gar are aggressive feeders. Nearly any type of live fish will peak its appetite as it swallows the prey headfirst. 

What Is A Spotted Gar

You may be challenged coming across a spotted gar when fishing in Georgia, South Carolina, or North Carolina if you do take a close look to distinguish it from longnose gar. 

How to Identify a Spotted Gar

The spotted gar is very similar in appearance to that of a longnose gar with a few exceptions, and the first is size. Spotted gar is smaller. They will grow up to three feet long, weighing around eight pounds.  

Beyond size, the snout of a spotted gar is shorter in length but also filled with teeth. The coloration near the top is brown to olive, fading to white beneath. The spotted gar will most often have dark spots on its head. The scales are course and diamond-shaped. 

Range of a Spotted Gar

A shortnose gar is not very common in the southeastern United States. They are most prevalent in the Gulf Coast states. Some populations of shortnose gar exist in Georgia and the northern portions of North Carolina. 

What type of Habitat Does Spotted Gar Live

Much like the longnose gar, the spotted gar prefers swamps, lakes, and streams with high vegetation levels and clear water. 

What Do Spotted Gar Eat

Spotted gar typically eats fish. However, they will also dine on crayfish and varying types of insects. 

What is a Florida gar

Much like the name, expect this fish to be found in Florida mostly. When you’re fishing in Georgia, you may encounter a Florida gar. 

How to Identify a Florida Gar

The Florida gar is slightly different looking than both the longnose gar and spotted gar. The skin is primarily olive in color, which extends well down the sides and towards the belly. The belly area is yellow or white. The snout is short in length and lined with teeth. 

Expect to find the Florida gar most frequently between 30 and 34 inches; however, they can grow as big as 36 inches. 

Range of a Florida Gar

A Florida gar will be found as far north as Savannah, Georgia, which borders South Carolina and extends down through Florida. 

What type of Habitat Does Florida Gar Live

When you’re searching for a Florida gar, look for areas with a mud or sand bottom in lakes, streams, and swampy areas. 

What do Florida Gar Eat

The Florida gar primarily eats fish but also consumes insects and crustaceans.  

Will you Be Able To Identify These Three Types of Gar

While each may appear somewhat similar, they all have unique and identifiable differences. It is unlikely that you will encounter all three types because the habitat does not overlap in many areas between South Carolina, North Carolina, and Georgia. No matter which of the three you tangle with, the battle will be enjoyable, and catching a glimpse of this prehistoric fish will be memorable.