The Alligator gar is Arkansas’s largest fish species, as well as the largest freshwater fish in the southeastern U.S., with the largest individuals weighing over 300 lbs. At these sizes, it is the state’s only true “big game” fish species.
Alligator gar populations in the White River attracted anglers from all over the world in the 1940s and 1950s. In recent years, anglers and bowfishers have exhibited a renewed interest in this species due to their trophy potential.
Major flood control projects throughout the 1900s changed the big rivers, leading to population impacts throughout the gar’s historic range. Additionally, popular labeling of this species and its relatives as “trash fish” have led many anglers and natural resource agencies to kill them, with the rationale that they eat sportfish or forage meant for sportfish. Like other apex predators, population levels of alligator gar are usually relatively low. However, at these low levels they are able to help maintain populations of other fish species within sustainable levels. With fossils dating back to the time of dinosaurs it is one of the oldest among the 200+ species of fish found here.
The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission has stepped up efforts to manage dwindling populations of alligator gar across the state. In 2008, the AGFC Fisheries Division formed the Alligator Gar Species Management Team. Over the past decade, this team of biologists has been working to understand the current status of remaining populations. In coming years the team will be focusing on enhancing the species in its native range, through habitat improvements and reestablishment efforts, where appropriate.
If you have information that would help better manage this species, please contact the AGFC at 800-364-4263 or Contact AGFC.
The AGFC Fisheries Division has devoted a special team of biologists to study and promote the alligator gar and its potential as a trophy sportfishery. They have compiled a management plan that identifies key steps in the continued success of this prehistoric throwback.
Researching alligator gar requires much more hands-on effort than many species, simply because of the rarity of large specimens throughout the gar’s traditional range. Watch a video highlighting some of the research work AGFC biologists employ to keep tabs on this species.
Anglers must have a free Alligator Gar Permit to keep any alligator gar. The permit is available at http://licensing.agfc.com.
Alligator gar may not be taken from noon, May 1-noon, July 1.
Only one alligator gar under 36 inches may be taken per day by anglers and bowfishers.
Alligator gar 36 inches and longer may only be kept if the angler or bowfisher has an Alligator Gar Tag. Fishing license holders can apply for one of 100 Alligator Gar Tags from Nov. 1-Dec.31 through a free online drawing at the button below.
Alligator Gar 36 inches and longer must be tagged by an AGFC fisheries biologist before transporting the fish from the body of water where it was taken. Call 1-800-364-4263 to report your harvest.