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Use These Baits to Catch Alligator Gar

Alligator gar are part of the Gar family of freshwater fish. They have long slender bodies that can grow up to 10 feet long and weigh over 200 pounds. The name derives from the particular-looking heads, much like an alligator’s. 

Alligator Gar bait

You will find Alligator gar in the shallow, weedy areas of lakes and rivers, typically in Texas, Florida, other areas of the Southern USA, and sometimes Mexico.

Alligator gar is primarily fished for sport because of its size and uniqueness, but it’s also edible which is a plus.  

Alligator gar may not be easy to catch, but there are several methods anglers use to catch these unique fish.

Gizzard Shad


Gizzard shad is one of the best and most common bait options for alligator gar fishing. It can be used as cut or live bait.

gizzard shad used for fishing bait

Gizzard shads are found in weedy, shallow areas of lakes and rivers in late summer, which is ideal for fishing on hot summer days when gar might be near the surface.

They can be caught with a cast net, but if you are not inclined to catch your own bait, Gizzard Shad can also be purchased at most bait shops. 



Mullet also can be caught with a cast net and used as live or cut bait. Often smaller mullets work best as live bait.

a single mullet for bait

When using mullets for bait, it is helpful to scale them first, meaning you need to scrape the scales off with a spoon or knife before using them as bait.

Since mullets are commonly found in the same areas as gar, you’ll want to fish in the same general area as where you found your bait. 

Common Carp


Common Carp is the most commonly used bait for alligator gar in Texas.

person a small carp for fishing bait

Like mullet, carp are often found in the same locations as alligator gar, making it easy to round up some bait and find a likely spot where the gar might come looking for food. Common carp is often used as cut bait and placed on a 3/0 to 4/0 hook. 

Smallmouth Buffalo


Smallmouth Buffalo are small bottom feeder fish often used as cut bait but can also be used as live bait when fishing for alligator gar.

a smallmouth buffalo fish on the shore of a lake

Because they dwell on the bottoms of lakes or ponds and near drop-offs, they are a bit harder to catch than the other types of bait.

They can be caught by fly fishing, baitcasting, spin casting, or drift fishing. They are commonly found in areas such as Texas, Alabama, and Louisiana. 


Final Thoughts

Most people fish alligator gar for sport because they can grow to such extreme sizes, and they are a challenge to catch.

These baits will help you lure in your alligator gar, but they will likely put up a fight. Don’t be afraid to invite one home for dinner, either!

Not only do you need the right bait, but you should also ensure you have a sturdy enough fishing tackle for the job. Lastly, don’t forget to check out your local fishing reports to make sure you’ve picked the right bait for your area and the time of year.

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