Alligator Gar 2022 Update

AGTeethAlligator Gar is the largest fish native to Illinois. With records dating back to prehistoric years, this species had not been seen in the state since the last documented Alligator Gar catch in the Cache River cutoff channel in southern Illinois in 1966. Alligator Gar were officially declared extinct in Illinois in the 1990s.

In 2010, the IDNR's Division of Fisheries began an Alligator Gar reintroduction program. During that time, Alligator Gar were stocked in a few waterways, including the lower Kaskaskia River.The program had a brief hiatus in 2014 – 2015, however in 2016, this program become active again with more research backing up this stocking initiative to help ensure success of survivability.

Read more about the Reintroduction Program here.

In April 2019, a statewide administrative rule for Alligator Gar went into effect in Illinois. The regulation allows the sport harvest of one Alligator Gar per 24-hour period, and no commercial harvest is allowed. Anglers are encouraged to report any Alligator Gar harvest or catches with a picture to the IDNR. An informational page is included in the annual regulation book and the number to report your catch is also shown below. Requested information will help biologists to collect data from anglers and bow fishers regarding fishing pressure and harvest.

Alligator Gar Accomplishments in Illinois for 2022:

  1. Illinois IDNR received no Alligator Gar fry to rear from the USFWS in 2022.
  2. Powerton Lake is on the warm water temperature extreme for water bodies in Illinois. On 8/3/2022, two Alligator Gar were collected by IDNR Fisheries from the intake canal at Powerton Lake. Both of these fish were 13 years old, and they were stocked and PIT tagged as 2 year old fish on 6/9/2011 into Powerton Lake. On 8/3/2022 they had an average length of 1,467 mm (57.7 inches) and 19,175 grams (42.2 pounds) each.Both of these fish were collected with the 5-inch Alligator Gar gill nets. In 9 sampling trips over 9 years, we have collected 46 of the original 78 stocked fish (59%) from 2011! These fish have moved to an interior intake canal at this warm water, power plant lake (coal fired). This interior canal has no fishing access, and a constant supply of forage of Gizzard Shad and Silver Carp. We should be able to sample them at this location for many years to come.
  3. Illinois DNR Fisheries had no confirmed Alligator Gar collections within the state in 2022 by anglers, bow fishers, commercial fishermen or other agencies (see box below about reporting your catch!).
  4. Illinois DNR Fisheries completed an update to the Illinois Alligator Gar Management Plan of 2017. The updated document is titled the Illinois Alligator Gar Status Assessment and Management Plan of 2022. This working document provides additional information and management on the Alligator in Illinois from 2017 to 2022.

AGfryAlligator Gar coming in 2023:

Jake Wolf Memorial and Little Grassy Fish Hatchery are currently caring for 60,000 alligator gar fry! Jake Wolf is housing 50,000 of the 2 week old fish, while the state's southernmost hatchery, Little Grassy, is housing 10,000 fry. As these fry grow to stockable size, check back here for stocking locations.

Read the Illinois Alligator Gar Assessment Plan and Update here.

Report Your Catch!

If you catch an alligator gar, we are asking anglers to please call (309)543-3316 to report your catch. Fisheries biologists can gain valuable information about Alligator Gar growth and movements with help from anglers like you. Be sure to take a picture!