December 2011, Mound Lake
We live beside Toltec Mounds State Park which is just East of Scott, AR (Lonoke County). Mound Lake is an old ox bow lake left over from the AR River when it changed course. Our back yard goes into the lake. My husband (Stewart) and our 8yr old son (Hunter) were fishing this afternoon off our dock on Mound Lake when Hunter caught the first Bowfin fish any of us have ever seen. We looked through the AR Game and Fish Native Arkansas Fish booklet and searched the web and found out it sure enough is a spawning male Bowfin with bright green fins and mouth. It is about 5 pounds and probably 14 inches long. As you can tell from the picture of Hunter with his first Bowfish, he is very proud of his catch. We are happy to say the fish is safely back in Mound Lake and hopefully he will produce more little Bowfins. Hunter wanted everyone to know he was using minnows for bait and they were fishing for catfish or crappie. One drawback to Mound Lake is that it is a private lake limited to home owners in this subdivision. We enjoyed your website, very helpful.
Angie C. 12/29/11
October 2011, Loc'n Unknown
I stumbled upon your site while I was looking to find the size of the largest bowfin ever caught. I guess there isn't just one size for world records. Anyway I caught a nice Grinnel as I have always called them, and had my dad take a picture for me. later I decided to look up the state record for what I learned is classified as a Bowfin. Turns out I may have been closer than I thought. All I have is the photo but my hand measures 5/32s less than 4 inches wide at the knuckles so I did some calculations and came up with 26.649. Only an estimate. I know it was over ten pounds and would guess close to fifteen. I weigh 220 and am 6ft tall just for reference. All I know is I'm on the hunt now and I love em.
fish was the second I caught that day. When it hit my spinner bait it skimmed over the top of the water and my dad not realizing I had hooked it said " boy there went a dandy fish. After it almost wrapped around the trolling motor and bent my spinner bait at a 90 degree angle in a second place I pulled it in and we took this photo with a phone and turned him back
loose. Total fight about 30 seconds maybe a minute. I was using pretty heavy line. I hope you enjoy the tale.
We went camping and fishing on Lake Conway in Mayflower, AR. We've never even heard of a bowfin before they got this one. The girls are Destiny, 10 and Bridgette,8. They cooperated with each other to bring it in. One held the pole while the other reeled it in. It was very exciting for all of us.
I am relatively new to Arkansas and just spent a few hours today fishing. I caught this really strange fish I've personally never seen before. Well after a few minutes of googling, I realized I caught a Bowfin and in conjunction stumbled onto your website. I thought since you are tracking where they were caught in Arkansas, I'd send you my two cents worth of information. Caught 1/29/11, North Lake Sherwood, AR.
They are in back of Ashbaugh Lake north of Pocahontas Ar. There were thousands of them! We were there two days ago and they were working the water like maggots on a dead moose. Just flipping and flopping for hours, it was quite a sight. I guess they came in from the Black River. I have never seen so many fish in one area in my life!
My family went camping and fishing at Shoal Bay in New Blaine, AR. Shoal Bay connects to the Arkansas River. It is muddy water about six feet deep in this location with lots of cattails and lily pads along the bank. We threw anchor and did some basic bobber and worm fishing with horrible results. About 20 minutes into the sitting, I see a large, strange fish surface right next to the boat. Its dorsal fin was long and had a ribbon-like motion. We didn't catch it or even make an attempt, but instead watched it swim back down out of visibility wondering what it was.
I did some online research and also looked in an Arkansas Game and Fish booklet that identifies the major fish in Arkansas (which excludes the Bowfin and includes warnings about the Snakehead by the way). We determined that it was a Snakehead, but I eventually found pictures and a video of a bowfin and decided that was what we saw.
Next time we go there, I'm going to take the boat out to that same spot and see if I can catch one. Regardless, I thought you would like to know that there you are doing a fine job at educating everyone on this fish and that there are Bowfin in more northern locations in the state. You map shows a few southern locations and the Mulberry River.
Keep up the fine work,
Kevin S, 08/10/09
My name is Jordan and I'm from Pine Bluff, Arkansas (grudgingly refered to as pine box). Not much to do here but fish and drink beer. After my first encounter with a big-eyed, long toothed, finger-shredding bowfin over a month ago I've been hooked. Now, my buddy and I go pearowing on Bayou Bartholomew (longest bayou in the world) every Monday.
He doesn't care what he catches, but I go strictly for the bowfin. Everyone around here thinks they're trash, but I think I'm in love.
The state record here is 17lbs, and I plan to break it this summer. In fact, I've already caught the record breaker. Just last week (before I knew what the record was) I released a 20 pounder. I've got so much respect for these fish now, and your site is one of the reasons why. I'd love to be a member.
BBBC, Jordan W 07/11/08
I catch a lot of good bowfin at the following spots.
This one is in Louisiana
I would just like to say thank you for having such a great site. I have fished for bowfin since I was a child. I am glad to see that others like to catch them as much as I do. I live in Taylor, Arkansas and down here we call them grinnell.
Wow! What a site. Not just a lot of "Hurray for our side" but a ton of
solid and solidly backed up info.
I came late to fanhood of so-called "rough fish". I made a couple of
contributions to and had a lot of dialogue with GASS and its creator
when it was just getting underway. Other demands kept me from becoming
more involved in that venture than I wanted to be. Since then I've made
an effort to keep up with the enlarging interest and focus of the
Internet's celebration of what the rest of the world considers "trash fish".
I'm delighting in all the all the info, pictures and websites for Carp,
Gar, Suckers, Drum (et al) and I fondly recalled many angling trips with
some long ago fishing buddies to southern Arkansas try our luck in the
sloughs and bows and "accidentally" catching a species that drove
everyone mad, moved them to curse and physically abuse the atrocity that
dared attach itself to the end of our line. It was almost an insult to
have to confess what one was about to pull to the boat. I mistakenly
made mention that these "things" did put up a heck of a fight and was
rewarded, as I recall, with a mostly empty beer can to the back of the head.
So ... I Googled the acursed one's name ... as I knew it ... "Grinnel".
By the time I got to BAG I was nearly weeping. I love fishing and I
love fish meals and I'd discovered the regretful truth that I had
intentionally avoided, mentally brainwashed myself not to enjoy and
(most importantly) had apparently cheated myself out of untold numbers
of scrumtious feasts.
I pretty much devoured your site. Wonderfully constructed, informative,
stalwart without being defensive ... kudos.
I'm foremost a warmwater fly fisher (I don't apologize for dabbling in
the coldwater species, they are much fun and eat well) and neither do I
apologize for grabbing a spinning rod or casting rod (or a cane pole) to
engage and/or collect (usually collect) whatever species will give me
sport and memories on any given outing. Best fight on a casting rod ...
a gar nearly the width of my pontoon boat (if it wasn't six feet long
I'll eat a live shad with a number 4 Eagle Claw Baitholder hook in it -
had a four boat witness on that one - they'd paused to see what I had on
and had to wait 30 minutes to find out and groaned loudly when they saw
it was a gar). Best fight on a spinning rod ... a twenty seven inch
Carp in a backed up creek in a high rain season on a huge impoundment.
Best fly rod fish ... a twenty two inch Carp that slurped a nymph I was
using to entice bluegill and other bream from under a dark ledge and
submerged shrubbery. Now ...
Best fish of all time, any discipline? A bowfin (Grinnel to me then)
that "dared" assault my crawfish impersonating lure intended for B@$$.
It painfully jerked the tendons in my shoulders, had me praying about my
knot tying abilities; a grab my A#!, Holy S>%^! What the H^#*
tailwalking prehistoric predator of undetermined size and weight because
my boat buddy flipped open his pocket knife and cut my line when he saw
I intended to boat the "thing".
I'm afraid I let slip a couple of "WaHooos!", maybe one or two"Yee Haws"
and was otherwise in angling rapture, much to the ire of my angling cronies.
When boat buddy cut my line, the water frothing quit as my quarry took
instant advantage of his freedom and a small silence settled over our
three boat convoy for Largemouth Bass. While I suffered the snobbery of
my companions in dark glares and wrinkled noses I was trying to maintain
a disgusted composure but secretly thinking ... that rocked ... that
That incident was probably the "parting of the ways" for me as I began
to secretly question the long standing myth of the chasm between sport
fish and rough (trash) fish.
Oh how I wish I could go back but ... Oh ... how its good to be here.
Love your site.
Bob M, 06/22/07
Thanks for your website. I had to go online to find out what kind of fish this was. I had a great time reeling this one in.
The spot is in Mulberry, AR, Prairie Vine Creek [Vine Prairie].
Travis and I went on top of the spillway
and sat out there with untouched bait almost all day. I decided to just
go down where the fish were since the water level had gone down very
low. I could see most of the fish breaking the surface and rolling in a
particular area, so I attacked that spot. I cast out and within a few
minutes something was nibbling on the shiner. This is usually
characteristic of the gar, so I figured it was a small gar that was
going to steal my bait. I was tightening the line to feel the fish on
the other end (I've found this usually gets a bowfin to run), and a
split second after I felt it, the bowfin was spooked. It ripped drag
out and went air born! It was a 28 inch female, in the top 5 largest
I've landed out there. The hook was buried deep and she lost a lot of
blood but she swam off very fast and splashed mud all over me so I
think she was ok.
went fishing yesterday on the 18th for grass
carp. I had seen them on top of the spillway, finning like sharks and
swirling around like crazy. There were tons of them, but unfortunately
they were reluctant to bite balled up bread. I was not prepared for
bowfin but I haven't been to the spillway all year without catching a
fish so I went down where the bowfin were and cast out a doughball. I
really didn't expect it but I actually caught one about 5 seconds of
the bait being in the water! It was a 23 inch bowfin
with Blake again,(5/17/03) and the spillway
was flooded. We didn't think we would catch anything but we were wrong.
The water was cleared up by the storm, and the water was so high, a few
trees were submerged... those were our targets. Because the current was
less strong against the bank and broken up by cover, that's where they
would be. A few minutes after casting, Blake hooked the first of his 3
bowfin, an 18 incher. I then hooked into a decent sized fish but it
threw my hook. Blake hooked another and this one was more like what we
wanted. It was a 28 inch bowfin with a beastly head that didn't seem to
fit its body, but it was still a nice fish. I managed to hook and land
2 more but both were smaller than I wanted so I didn't bother taking
The FinMaster David G and 25" 5lb-6oz female from the Columbia Lake Spillway in AR. Caught 5/10/03.
Mother's Day... I took my Mom bowfin fishing! She hasn't been fishing
in around 15 years so this was kind of like me taking a kid fishing.
The trip kicked off with me landing a nice 23 inch bowfin I spotted in
some weeds, but while I was walking around looking for bowfin I looked
back to check on my mom's bobber. It was gone! She did a perfect hook
set and a massive tidal wave splashed all over the place. I realized
this was no average 24 incher - this was a tank!!! She fought it for a
long time and drag was ringing (my favorite noise) and got everyone's
attention at the spillway. It even went airborne and tossed the bobber
out of its mouth. I thought for sure this one was going to break our
hearts and get off. I managed to slip my gloved thumb into its mouth
and it chomped down and went through into my thumb!!! My hand now has a
little row of holes from bowfin teeth. It was 27-1/2" and weighed 6
pounds 3 oz. That's a nice bowfin for your first and a nice fish for
your first in around 15 years!
I fish on the Lake Colombia spillway all the time - there are
tons of bowfin out there and they are easy to catch. The way I usually
catch them is pretty simple, and I'm sure many of you have tried it
too. I use a steel leader and a rather small, thick, double barbed
Eagle Claw hook and a bobber set on the depth of the area I'm fishing.
I usually have my bait (3 inch shiners from the local bait store)
suspending in depths, not on the bottom. I always place my cast
directly on the edges of thick weeds. It normally only takes a few
seconds of waiting before a bowfin (or a gar) begins fiddling around
with the bait. Normally the bowfin will snatch it, but the gar always
play with it first, so I can just read my bobber like a book and know
if it is one of those two types of fish. Anyway, small bowfin are the
norm, but when the big ones hit, it is so much fun. I remember after I
discovered the spillway and the bowfin I brought my dad down there but
didn't tell him what kind of fishing we were going to do. I let him
fish off on his own. He was using a spinnerbait while I was reading my
bobber. Suddenly, I heard an enormous splash and I looked across the
spillway and saw that my dad had hooked a bowfin. The look on his face
was hilarious as that fin wrestled him for all he was worth. He landed
it with a smile and we guessed it to be about 6 pounds.
David G and 2 from his weekly catch [4/27/03] - a 23" and a 24", 4.5 lb from
the Columbia River Spillway in AR
Travis G David's bro, and his first ever bowfin, a nice 22" male caught 4/19/03.
Welcome to the club, Travis!
Hey it's me again. I recently went fishing with
Blake again last weekend on the 12th and whooped him 4 to nothing. The
mosquitos tore me up and the bowfin I'm lipping managed to shake
furiously after the photo, ripping through the glove to my hand. OUCH!
But no problem, I still managed to catch 2 more nice fins and a pretty
good shortnose gar. All were caught on the usual (live shiners) near
and in open holes in the vegetation. The bowfin being lipped is my
biggest bowfin by the way.... maybe next time I'll bring a scale and
measuring tape so I can start telling you the sizes!
A friend of mine, Blake B and I, David G, went
fishing today ( April 5th) and caught some bowfin. He saw my pic a few
weeks ago on the cover and tried to make it his mission to top my fish.
He managed to do so; he caught 3 nice sized bowfin, but this one was
his best. The fins were caught at Lake Columbia's Spillway, AR. They
were all estimated to be a little over 24 inches, and were caught on
live shiners in water depths ranging from 2 to 4 feet. The day was
warm, overcast, windy, and somewhat humid. Some were caught sight
fishing and some just from being in the right place at the right time.
I noticed the bowfin have all been very scratched up and scarred, but I
have no idea why. These fins were extremely difficult to get pics of
because they still had plenty of fight in them and would always flop
Bowfin Angler David G made the cover with two fine
fins from the Columbia Dam spillway - the first of 2003. Congrats David
- keep 'em coming!