A fish that shows its teeth
Found in most clear waters of the eastern half of the United States, the spotted gar can grow to about three feet long. It may weigh up to eight pounds and live as long as 15 years or more in the wild.
Like other kinds of gars, the spotted gar can often be observed basking on warm sunny days just below the surface of the water. There they lie in wait to prey upon almost any living thing that may pass by either on the surface or in the water. Mostly their prey is small fish.
The spotted gar is difficult to catch on a regular single hook and line because of its long narrow bony snoutlike mouth. Be cautious of the sharp teeth if you must handle this fish.
Dating back 65 million to 100 million years ago, this beautifully colored fish is one of Southeast Missouri's most primitive animals.
They can sometimes be found basking in schools of 30 or more. They will often snap the top of the water as several did the morning I waited for this photo. Bright sun and clear water helped me achieve this image. And as always, numerous attempts resulted in failure before this image was captured.
Through the Woods is a weekly nature photo column by Aaron Horrell. Find this column at semissourian.com to order a reprint of the photo.