Of the many unique fish swimming in Lake of the Ozarks, Longnose Gar tend to excite most clients. Their long, slender beaks (mouth) filled with sharp teeth give this fish an ominous presence both in the water and when they come over the side of the boat where they can be dangerous if not handled properly. The thing about these gar is their size. A big fish can push 25 pounds and can be over 4 feet long. They tend to swim near the surface as they chase small baitfish and occasionally gulp air to both breathe and regulate their swim bladders. These fish have no natural predators once they are bigger than a juvenile and their populations are very stable throughout much of the eastern and central United States. It’s always exciting to see these fish and we normally get multiple shot opportunities over the course of a trip. The Missouri state record currently sits at 34 lbs. Our boat record currently sits at 21 lbs. 4 oz.
The Longnose’s cousin, the Shortnose Gar, are typically much smaller and we do not encounter them as often in the lake, but they are extremely prevalent in the Osage River below Bagnell Dam. They have a shorter, wider beak and no visible spots on the head and beak area. During the summer months it’s possible to see hundreds of fish that barely weigh 1 lbs. each in areas that hold them. In the lake itself, if we encounter a Shortnose Gar it can be a real monster. My son Logan shot a BAA State Record in 2018 that weighed 11 lbs. and missed the World Record by only 2 ounces.