Unofficial record weight on Mustad digital scale 21 pounds. No certified FWC scale was available. Caught and released to fiight again. Caught in Florida pan handle.
For those interested this record fish was caught in a 12 foot hole within a shallow and weedy prairie lake in the Florida panhandle. I was targeting trophy b@$$ with large wild golden shiners caught on panfish hook and line. After landing a 7 and 8 pound b@$$, I cast the largest shiner in the live well, a nine incher.
I thought I was playing a new Florida state record b@$$ until the bowfin surfaced near the boat but I am still delighted with this catch. I did not want to take a chance on killing this rare fish waiting for a game and fish official to bring a scale, and after catching large b@$$, I simply wanted to keep fishing. I weighed the bowfin using my digital boat scale. If my scale is off a few ounces either way it definitely beat the previous certified 19 pounds by approx. a couple pounds. My wife was with me and I will include a few pics of nice b@$$ she caught that day when I have time. Gott go, adios and happy bowfinning. After this I will more frequently target this fish in the holes. Very fun play!(ripped my net)
Yesterday fishing in a local pond, I caught a MASSIVE bowfin. I have caught them upto around 9 pounds, but when I saw this fish I KNEW it was over ten pounds easily. I am putting in for a Florida big catch record, and I have the weight but I have no idea of the length or girth...
It is clearly a large female as it did not have a spot near the end of its tail... this fish had the broadest head of any bowfin I have ever seen. It weighed a whopping 15 pounds 8 ounces. (A Top Ten catch). The scale was jumping between 15# 6 ounces and 15 pounds 11 ounces and the fish would not stay still so we took the photo of the scale when it was the most stable.
I need estimates of the fish for the big catch record as she gouged me with her gill rakers and splashed back into the lake before we were able to get the length and girth measurements. Pictures; For reference I am 6 foot 5" and almost 260 pounds
Thank you for your most informative website on Bowfin. I've been teaching my 9 year old daughter Celeste the joys of fishing and she's taken to it with gusto. Just today she caught a 5 lb b@$$ with a friend out of her grandparents back-yard in Lutz, Florida. They also landed the this stout Bowfin. Celeste and her 8 year old friend Caleb (smiling above the fish's mouth) teamed up to catch these fish by themselves. Young bowfin anglers in the making! I went online to learn about this pre-historic looking fish and was pleased to come across your website confirming its ancient origins. We released this biggin' to fight another day.
Thanks for educating us neophyte Bowfin anglers.
Today I caught a Big Ol' Bowfin in South Florida on a small jig and his little brother.
Elman M 12/12/11
Neil F and I were out on South Florida's canals again this weekend. Caught another nice bowfin on my second cast. Love those bowfins!
Elman M 11/28/11
Since moving from London to Miami, I have really enjoyed the fishing the state of Florida has to offer. Having been told about this web site by Elman M, I thought you might like to see this bowfin caught on a fly !
Neil F 08/30/11
I saw your website and thought I'd share a beautiful bowfin I caught today. I caught it on a Shad Rap Diving Plug in SW Miami Dade County, Florida. I've caught others, but this one was nice and fat...thought you and your members would like to see it.
Elman M 08/29/11
I've been fishing for b@$$ for about a year but have learned quickly and have caught more than 500 fish more than 2 lbs. My average fish is 3-4 lbs. I went to a new pond
near my house in my neighborhood and started b@$$ fishing there to see if it
held some big fish, and it did! On the third cast I caught a 3 1/2 pounder
(b@$$) on a white trick worm. Then I saw a fish's snout come out of the water
near the edge of the forest side shore. I thought it was a b@$$ so I pulled
the braided line with my finger getting ready to cast and flung my white 5''
zoom trick worm 2 feet from the ripple made by the fish. I twitched it two
times, saw the fish torpedo toward my worm, and the wake on the surface of the
water from the fish made me so excited. I felt a tug and the line was tightening
up so with my heart beating 500mph I set the hook. When the fish felt the sharp
stainless steel Gamakatsu hook go into its flesh, it went on a rampage and
thrashed and shook its head and twirled like an alligator.
Once it broke the surface and I saw its dorsal fin I knew it wasn't a b@$$ but I knew it was my biggest freshwater fish I have ever caught so I set the hook again putting the
barbed worm hook deeper in its mouth and making it even more mad than before. After about 30 seconds it grew tired and I was able to drag the monstrous fish
next to the bank. I grabbed my Berkley lip grip and put it in its mouth. I
lifted its body from the ground, it thrashed, and I almost lost my grip. I thought to myself, "I'm not letting go of this fish!"
It stopped thrashing and pretended to be dead but I was too smart for that. I told
my brother to get my phone from my pocket and take a picture. He grabbed my
phone he said "Smile you lucky son of a gun" and I smiled holding the fish as
I would be holding a giant b@$$. I then put the fish in the water, poked its belly gently and it swam away.
I later looked at the picture and realized that I have never wondered what kind of
fish it was. I researched Florida's freshwater game fish species list and sure
enough I found a picture of the exact same fish and it said mudfish/bowfin.
After that experience, I was hooked on catching these awesome looking, die hard
fighting fish. I then saw your website and realized I should tell him this story
and show him the picture and so I did.
I could not figure out what this fish was until I researched your site. I caught him at the Reunion Resort in Orlando in a very dark lake. He was super aggressive and I thought I had a monster b@$$ on my hands. He
destroyed my green lizard and broke the line when he got on shore. Now
that I know that they can actually breath air there were several that
were coming to the top of the water every few minutes. I just didn't
know what they were. Thanks for the site, I hope you enjoy the pic!
I also caught a alligator Gar and a few b@$$. Good selection of fish in
this small lake...
Brian S, 04/19/11
I was doing a little research on Bowfin last night and came across your site after catching my first Bowfin yesterday. I live and caught this one in Lake Mary FL on Crystal Lake so I thought I would share the pics with you. I caught it on a piece of Bacon and had 3 more on.
Rich Y, 07/29/10
January 2010, Near Miami
My son and I caught this fish on January 1st. The first fin of the year!
I just found your site. I catch fins on a regular basis and they are always a good
fight. This fin weighs in at 5.44lbs and put up quite a fight. I caught that fin in the Escambia River at the northeast side of Pensacola. There are also many Spotted Gar and Sturgeon in that river.
Zac T, 08/12/09
These are some of my favorite lakes for catching Fins and Gar.
Holden Pond Park Hawthorne, FL. I have caught 47 fins in one day on this lake.
Sampson Lake, Rowell Lake, Crosby Lake Starke, Fl
Santa Fe Lake, Altho Lake Waldo, FL
Hope this list adds to the amount of fins caught around here.
Jason B, 06/02/09
I caught my first Bowfin today while throwing a Rebel Popper on the Withlacoochee River. The Withlacoochee is a very long River and the current link attached to the update is way upstream from where I caught the Bowfin yesterday. Here is a link with the map centered on the spot where I caught it. I put the boat in at the Dunnellon boat ramp and then work downstream from there.
Vaughn R (Vintage Garage), 04/23/09
I was fly fishing and landed two of these Bowfin. The one in the picture was 14.5 lbs and 33 inches long. Has anyone landed one that size on a fly rod? I was using a black woolybooger fly size #10 for b@$$ and crappie's with my sage fly rod; the tippet I was using was 4lbs. That's my daughter Dorothy, age 7, with the fin.
I have been fly fishing for 28 yrs and was a casting instructor for 15 yrs till I moved here to Ocoee.
I caught the big Bowfin at Lake Okahumpka in Wildwood. I also saw the records for the fly rod line classes and the 14.5 lb fish I landed would have broke all the line classes tippets,and mine was a 4 lb tippet.All the fish I have been able to land are over the 7-14 lb range.I am going back out this week with my fly buddies to try and break the flyrod records.
I would like to know who I can contact about the big Gar in Florida? I live in Ocoee near Orlando if you know of anyone, that would be great. I am planning on joining the Bowfin group you have.
JohnG , 04/06/09
Hi! I stumbled across your site and wondered if you would be able to put this picture onto the site. We are from England and have a house in Florida. We regularly enjoy trips to the house and at the bottom of the garden is a creek and my boyfriend and dad caught some monsters including this one. Love the site! How do we join?
The bowfin were caught in Beacon Woods Subdivision in Hudson just north of Tampa. The creek at the bottom of the garden is teeming with bowfin! Maybe we'll try one of your recipes next time we visit!
Jessica U.K , 01/16/09
I have some info on Bowfins in the Polk County area of Florida, 3 places that I usually catch some Mudfish, are Clinch Lake, Reedy Lake and Lake Arbuckle in the South Eastern edge of Polk County, small township called Frostproof. During a B@$$ tourney in June '08, It was windy and getting stormy, myself and step-father were doing our best of fishing for B@$$, trolling around the shorelines, tossing motoroil shad plastys, 3 hours passed when I got my first hit in 3 1/2 foot of water, Hit like a freight train, stripping line off my ultra-light rig. I fought the fish for 10 minutes trying not to get tangled in the anchor line at the back of the boat, instead the fish charges into the motor at full speed and you could hear the collision on deck. When trying to land him in a net, it flipped and almost broke my step-fathers wrist. I caught 2 more Fins that day and none of them weighed less than 10 pounds. Clinch Lake has some monster fins in the waters.
Ray R, 01/05/08
I caught this bowfin in the canal between Lake Sheen and Pocket Lake in Orlando. Thanks for all the information on your site. We have fished these lakes for several years always hunting b@$$ but this was the best fight I have ever had from my Kayak.
Frank R, 10/20/08
October 2008, Jacksonville Area
I live in GA, but work with a company that does a lot of traveling. This summer I was lucky to end up in Jacksonville FL. Around the hotel and other parts of the town I found small lots of ponds. Fishing since I was little, I had to see if any of them held fish. To my surprise they held more than fish. I caught b@$$, rock b@$$, bluegill of good size, spotted cat fish, and lots and lots of gar and mudfish. One mudfish was about 9 or 10 lbs . . . the big daddy. Anyway, my new favorite fish to fish for is mudfish. People say ugly; I say what an awesome fight! Thanks and have a great day.
I don't know if you would call this a hotspot or not- a few other anglers that were out that day did not seem surprised when we mentioned catching it. This was on the Suwannee River at Dowling Park,FL and was hooked by my husband John.
Your website is great VERY informative- thank you!
Eileen R, 07/21/08
I've been visiting and enjoying your website for a while. It seems that you guys have a lot of fun and a great respect for the bowfin. I do too. I am a fisheries biologist, outdoorsman, and artist and I come across my share of bowfin. Recently, I harvested a nice bowfin here in a Florida lake. I am fairly well known for my gyotaku and oceanic artwork and have sold my art all over the world. This was a personal best bowfin catch for me and I wanted to create a gyotaku rubbing of it for my personal collection. I have another rubbing from my session available and I was wondering if you or any of your fellow bowfin enthusiasts would like to have a piece of bowfin art in their house. I have attached a pic of the bowfin when it was captured as well as a pic of the gyotaku rubbing. The flash of the camera ruins the color an beauty of the rubbings, but you will get an idea of what it looks like. It looks much better in person. The image is ~28.5" long and the paper is 15" x 37". The rubbing was made in white ink on a deep teal green rice paper from Thailand. It is signed and dated by me. I normally paint "pretty" fish that most people know and can relate to. I painted this fish for me, but I have this other rubbing available and I figured you or your group would be the only folks in the world who might appreciate it. If anyone is interested, I am asking $150.00 delivered. If someone wants it, I will ship it rolled in a tube to any mainland U.S. address. I will also provide framing advice.
If you need a location for that fish, it was caught in Lake Jesup in Seminole County, Florida. I caught 5 other bowfin that night, with one other one just as big.
Gregory F, 06/23/08
hooper911 at mindspring.com
I would like to join your group of fin lovers! I live on Julington Creek off of the St. Johns River just south of Jacksonville, Fl. For years, I have been feeding pan fish daily off my dock, and have created a "all you can eat"
haven for large predatory species including bowfin. 24"+ catches are common this time of year mostly fishing fish heads, 6.0 J hooks on wire leader. Caught 6-1-08 on bream head!
Thanks, Lee J, 06/02/08
My girl-friend and I went to Moss Bluff on the Ocklawaha River on May 23, 2008 to catch whatever would bite the dead Thread-Fin Shad that we were using as bait. We were hoping for a couple nice Mudfish and Spotted Gar. We managed to get this 1 female and about 7 good size Spotted Gar in about 3 hrs. My girl-friend had never seen or caught a Mudfish or Spotted Gar. I caught the Mudfish and 3 out of the 7 Spotted Gar. My girl-friend was ecstatic when she caught a 6.7 pound Spotted Gar. I was using kind of a heavy set
up for these Mudfish and Spotted Gar because of the amount of cover and vegetation that we fish in and around. I use an Abu Garcia Revo STX Bait-Casting Reel, with a Daiwa Steez Rod, Suffix Performance Braid 50 Lb Test, a
1/4 Ounce Slip Sinker, and a 5/0 Nautilus Hook. We were fishing above the Spillway near a set of lily-pads and some submerged timber that the Fish and Wildlife cut down to open space for a Boat Ramp that they were going to
construct. It's my favorite Little Honey Hole I call it. The Mudfish put up a really good fight once I loosened the drag. I wanted to play her because she felt good and I didn't want to horse her. She was 28" in Length; she weighed 7.3 lbs, 7.9" Girth. They are the BULLDOGS of any freshwater fish by my standards. Thanks BAGman for the AWESOME WEBSITE keep it up!
My grandson and I went fishing on the Ocklawaha River on May 18, 2008, trying to catch some channel catfish just below the fast flowing spillway. My setup was a 6' foot medium action St.Croix rod with a Zebco 33 reel, spooled with 20 lb mono, with a 1/4 ounce slip sinker, and a 4/0 Tru-Turn worm hook. My grandson knew how to throw a cast-net so we mixed our secret home made chum. We baited a hole with the chum and threw the cast-net. On our very first throw we caught nearly 3 dozen wild shiners. From the wild shiners that we caught, we hooked a 6" inch wild shiner through the bottom lip and out through the nostril. We then proceeded to throw the bait about 2' feet from the nearest set of lily-pads. We saw her take the bait! I grabbed the rod and set the hook. Wow!!!! She put up a heck of a fight! She dragged me into the lily-pads, then out into the rocky-rapids, then once again back into the lily-pads. After playing her for about 8-10 minutes, I managed to get her to the bank where my grandson lipped it with his Boca grip. My grandson held up the
fish for us to see, then asked me how much I thought it would weigh. I said about 3 lbs. My grandson also had a Berkley digital fish scale in the tackle box. We weighed and measured the massive bowfin. It turned out to be 25 1/2" in length, with a 12 1/2" girth, with a weight of 5 lbs 9 oz. Honestly, I can say it's the biggest bowfin I've ever caught in 57 years. It's so much fun to catch these powerful pre-historic fish. Thanks for the awesome website.
Good luck to all finners. Go finners!!!!!!!!!!!!
April 2008, Location Inknown
My daughter Molly caught this Bowfin in our neighbor's pond on her little Barbie fishing
pole with cut up hotdog. She was hysterical to watch as she was reeling as fast as she
could, screaming and jumping up and down until she muscled this big ol' fish on land. We
didn't measure it but I would guess it weighed around 8lbs. Someone told us it might be
a snakehead but after some research I am pretty sure it's a Bowfin. What are your thoughts? Anyway it is the largest fish she has ever caught and we enjoyed every minute
Shawn and Molly C, 04/24/08.
I pulled up this bowfin while casting for bait with a net. I caught it April 21,2008 AM, in the rim canal that surrounds Lake Okeechobee, in Okeechobee county. It measured 26 inches but I didn't weigh it. The neighbor says he caught one yesterday on a jig, but not as large.
February 2008, Loc'n Unknown
I caught this 15.3 pound fish in a lake in my back yard in Orlando, FL. I did not know what kind of fish it was until I saw your site. I hope you can add me as member and post the pictures on your site.
A. E. 02/06/08
Hi, the name is Allan B (FATMAN) I live in England but have a vacation
home at Lake Marion, Florida. I manage to get over about 12 weeks a year, get
the boat (17 ft b@$$ tracker) in the water, and go out for BOWFIN and GAR. I've been
fishing Lake Marion 4 years now and have had dozens of both fish. The biggest
about 8lb(Bowfin), but have lost a couple of monsters (witnessed).
Allan B , 12/12/07
Here's another bowfin I caught on Lake Sheen. I weighed it at about two pounds. I caught it on a shiner using a Eagle Claw metal leader. It didn't give much of a fight until it saw the dock, then it took off and fought well.
Nick V, 10/29/07
Well, I have not been fishing very long. In fact, I have thus far caught only two b@$$, and three bowfin, on Lake Tarpon in Tarpon Springs, FL. I used live shiners. The b@$$ were 14" and 16", but the bowfin were getting on close two feet. The b@$$ did not fight or thrash anywhere near as hard as the bowfin.
The first bowfin that I got, I had the immediate reaction of "what the hell is this!", and the words "primitive", "Jurassic" came to mind. I never expected to see such teeth on a lake fish. Using heavy gloves and pliers I handled the bowfin and got the hook out, and returned them all to the water.
I was scared of the first one I pulled in - very much so when it was laying on the deck for a minute and did not move, then suddenly just started thrashing hard.
I am contemplating buying a fishing kayak and trying for them - that should be a challenge.
Those fish are fascinating to look at, and that they are so ancient! - very strong!
I very much enjoyed learning about them from your site.
Rand D, 10/24/07
The fin on the left was caught on Lake Sheen. I caught it on cut bait. It gave a nice fight for its size. It weighed around four pounds and was twenty-two inches long.
I caught the bowfin on the right on Lake Sheen. I got stuck on the dock with my dad in a bad storm. We were under the roof of the dock in the storm and couldn't leave. I left my bait in the water because I didn't want to touch the fishing rod with lighting all around us. After about fifteen minutes into the storm a bowfin grabbed my bait and my rod went skidding across the dock. I put my foot on it, not wanting to touch the rod. We waited for about twenty more minutes before the storm blew over us. when the storm was gone I reeled the fish in. He wasn't that big, maybe two pounds the most, but he provided some excitement during the storm.
Nick V, 09/18/07
Original drawings by NickV, 09/13/07.
My name is Don M and I was camping on the Withlacoochee River, just above Silver Lake at S.R. 50 and I 75. I was cat fishing and honestly never even fished fresh water here in Florida. I got a hit around 10PM on cut up baitfish and sure enough this fish fought like a motha!!!!!!! Stronger than a ca, I thought maybe a gar or a small gator. Well, I brought him in on 8 lb test, he opened up his mouth like a b@$$, and it was dark, so naturally I grabbed him like a b@$$. WRONG! move!!!!!!!! It ripped my thumb to shreads man!!! It was so fun to catch though...I caught 2 more that night...All were about 2 foot long and rather heavy. I found your site trying to find out more about this fish. They were saying it is a mud fish - it is no good, but I had a freakin' blast catching them as the others watched!!! I also caught a cat and a turtle. I had one of these Bowfin break the end off my rod. I saw him all the way to shore - much larger!!!
Last weekend I only caught one Bowfin. I took a pic, but it was dark and storming so bad!!!
I measured by my sandals, which are exactly 12 inches long and it was about 22". I also caught a gar that was 3 foot long exactly, a cat about 14 inches, and a large water turtle.
I am going again tomorrow...storms are expected, but I am prepared this time with various shelters!!!! Eventually I would like to join ya'll and maybe hook up w/ some other Bowfiners in Florida. Hopefully better weather and more Bowfin!!!
Don M, Jr., 07/30/07
This bowfin was caught in Lake Sheen. It was real skinny, but it hit my bait hard. It didn't really give much of a fight but it's always a joy to catch them.
Happy Fourth of July to all finners!
Nick V, 07/05/07
July 2007, Loc'n Unknown
I was fishing for B@$$ at a 12 acre pond in my backyard and was surprised what kind of monster I got.
I won the fight after a few minutes. After landing him I was afraid to put my thumb in his mouth....so I put on gloves.
He is 22" and more than 5 lb.
You have a great Website !!!!!
Petri Heil (means have a good fishing time in German language)
Christian E, 07/02/07
P.S. No fish in these pictures was hurt....he just took his place in the foodchain :-)
June 2007, Broward Co
An update: May 30
Today, hooked a 25 inch bowfin who fought like a true monster and on 3 occasions my friend and I thought he got off after he hid in underwater trees and in grass (picture coming soon).
Today managed to hook what we thought was a incredibly large bowfin but turned out to be a massive snakehead that measured at 39 inches long and his head was twice the size of a normal bowfin (picture coming once phone bill gets paid and estimate weight of the snakehead was about 17 lbs).
Caught Large but skinny bowfin measured 29 inches and weighed about 5 lbs he really needs to eat and snagged a poor 9 inch bowfin that died because the hook was lodged deep in his stomach.
June 9th (HUGE INCIDENTAL)
Today I went fishing in late afternoon about 6 pm because I was bored. I casted out my line and reeled it in very slowly and felt a rather large bite and when I go to set the hook, the fish's teeth rip the worm in half. I put another worm on the hook and then again I go to set it and find the worm ripped in half. I start getting mad and I'm thinking it's a bowfin because they like to do this to soft plastic baits. Then on my 5th torn worm I decide to place the hook far down close to the bottom of the worm then I feel it again and BAM! Hook set! FISH ON! It started fighting like a monster and I thought it was a nice sized fin then it gets close and I see a MONSTER b@$$. I take him out and weighed 16 lbs. - 1 lb off from Florida state record...so sad (Picture when phone is payed).
Jeff P, FL, 06/11/07
Here's another big bowfin from Lake Washington FL. This fish was caught on a large golden shiner.
Crazyfin (Norm G), #128, 05/30/07
May 2007, Broward Co
2 weeks ago, my friend and I managed to hook a possibly record breaking bowfin. This thing was a monster! We stalked it for days with cut up bait. One day, he came around our giant boulder we sit on and he bit the bait with such force and took off. I have never felt such a force on any fish and I have caught gars, b@$$, carp, and bluegill, but this fish was a true monster. He jumped out of the water a couple of times and he was giant. When we finally landed him I didn't know what it was and neither did my friend so we didn't want to touch it. On the ground, he was as big as a 10 year old child and it was shocking to see something that monstrous. This fish easily reached over the 40 inch mark. When I jumped off the boulder to go to the fish, it started to flail insanely, broke the line, and flailed into the water, never to be seen again. But one day I hope to meet him again and have the fight I had 1 more time.
On another note, last night I caught a 24 inch bowfin at 10pm with an artificial worm and Eagle Claw hook. As soon as I casted the hook, the bowfin exploded on the surface of the water. When I reeled him in, I found out the hook went in too deep for me to take it out, so I cut the line and let him go to catch another day.
Jeff P, FL, 05/14/07
Just found your site. Great site! I was looking on the net and trying to find information on the Bowfin and found your site. I just caught a 3 pounder yesterday and it was my first fin. I caught it in Lake Albert in Graceville, Florida using a black and green striped Beetle Spin lure. Put up quite a battle. I thought I had a b@$$ until I finally landed it on the shore with my ultra light spinning tackle, 4 pound test line! It was fun! Now I hope to catch more of them in the future.
Tom J, FL, 04/05/07
Here's a small bowfin I caught on Lake Sheen. I was using cut up sunfish on an Eagle Claw bait hook attached to a long metal leader. This one didn't fight too hard, but it was airborn a couple of times.
Nicholas V, 03/07/07
I had a good January day on Lake Sheen. The first fin I caught was twenty-seven inches and thirteen pounds.
I caught it on a cut up sunfish using seventeen pound test. This bowfin didn't fight hard until it saw the dock.
When it saw the dock, it took off, running off with half my line!
The second was twenty-four inches and eight pounds. While reeling it in, I thought I had a small bowfin, but just
like the first when it saw the dock it took off. Both were really nice fish!
TimG, ShawnW, or anyone else - bring it on!
Nicholas V, 01/18/07
I caught this bowfin in the canal system in Naples, FL. The fish was 24"
long and weighed 5 lbs. It was caught on a large white buck tail jig. This
was my first, and hopefully not the last, Bowfin!
Ok - Now I'm hooked! I just sent you a pic of my first bowfin today and I decided to go at them again! This time I used frozen shrimp and cut squid. These two bruisers are the result! All the fish were released unharmed.
Love your site,
Ed K, 12/01/06
My friends and I caught this 5 lb Bowfin in Lake Mary, Florida while fishing for b@$$ with XL shiners.
John L, 11/28/06
When I was fishing on Lake Sheen I caught this monster. I was fishing with my friends. As I sat on the dock, I saw my friend's rod tip move, so I got up and set the hook. I felt a mudfish on the end of the line. It didn't take long for me to reel it in (it was small). As I netted it, I heard my mom yelling. I looked over my shoulder to just see my fishing rod flip over the railing into the water. I jumped into the water after my rod and retrieved it. I felt the fish on as I handed it to one of my friends. When I got on the dock, I took the rod from my friend and started reeling. The fish fought hard. When I got it on the dock I realized how big it was. I didn't get the exact weight, but I estimated around fifteen pounds.
Nicholas V, 10/23/06
Here's another big bowfin from this weekends fishing trip at Lake Washington FL. This fish was caught on a live shiner.
Norman G, 10/23/06
This bowfin was caught on Lake Sheen. I caught it on a live sun fish using a steel leader and ten pound line. We hooked a lot of fish that day and many were huge. It was a great day fishing!
Nicholas V, 10/16/06
My name is Norman G from West Melbourne, Florida and I am a big fan of your website.
Here's a PIC of a BIG bowfin from this morning on Lake Washington in Melbourne Florida.
The bowfin weighed 7lbs 5oz (digital scale) and was caught on a live 7" golden shiner. This great fish was released.
Norman G, 09/11/06
This 4lb mudfish was caught on lake Sheen. We had a great day; my friends and I caught over fifteen mudfish. A lot of them were a good size too. I caught this mudfish on a cut up sunfish.
Nicholas V, 08/30/06
This bowfin was caught on Lake Sheen. It fought almost as hard as my five pounder. It dragged half my rod under the dock. Still, it wasn't big, it weighed one and half pounds. I caught it on a cut up sunfish right off the side of the dock. It was great!
Nicholas V, 08/10/06
My name is Quinn H and I'm 12 years old. I caught this bowfin on Lake
Sheen in Orlando, FL, so here's the story:
It was a cloudy day and it was particularly slow. My bait was a
sunfish and was sitting about 30 ft from shore. As I slowly reeled it in, my friend
called my name, claiming he had a bite. As I was talking to him, I didn't realize my
bait was sinking.
I turned around and began to reel it in again. All of the sudden my rod
got heavy. I felt it tugging and thought I was fighting a catfish. As I pulled it to a
sandy beach I realized it was a bowfin. I was quick to weigh it. This bowfin weighed 8
pounds. My biggest ever!!
Quinn H, 07/28/06
We we're trying for fins, but look at this fish my brother, my friend, and I caught! It's a plecostomus and weighed four pounds.
Nicholas V, 07/28/06
I caugth this 3lb mudfish on Lake Sheen. I was using a cut up sunfish on a pretty big bait hook. I didn't have any metal leaders with me so I used thirty pound test line. We lost a lot of mudfish. They either bit through the line or spit the hook, but we had a great fishing day.
Nicholas V, 06/26/06
This small 1 lb mudfish was caught in Clermont on a small lake. I was fishing
for brim with hot dog as bait. I dropped my hook and bait of the side of the
dock. There was a whole bunch of small brim nipping at my bait. After about a
minute of so my bait disappeared and I felt a hard tug. The mudfish didn't
give much of a fight since I caught him right off the side of the dock.
I think this website is great.
Nicholas V, 06/23/06
This 3 lb mudfish (bowfin) was also caught in Lake Sheen a few days after my first one. I was using pretty small hook attached to a metal leader. All my mudfish are caught on hot dog. I've never tried using a shiner to catch a mudfish. I heard from a lot of people that shiners work real well for mudfish.
Nicholas V, 06/22/06
I caught this mudfish (bowfin) on a hotdog in Lake Sheen in Orlando, Florida. I was fishing for carp and didn't really intend to catch a mudfish. Earlier that day I had hooked a ten to twelve pound carp but I lost it when I tried to pull it out of the water. That was a disappointment. I baited my hook with another piece of hotdog and cast it out by a patch of weeds. After about ten miutes line slowly started coming out of my reel. Quickly I set the the hook and felt something tug hard. I thought I hooked a pretty big carp from the way the fish was pulling. After about a minute I got the fish to the side of the dock and saw that it was a mudfish. I didn't have a net with me so I had to pull the mudfish along the side of the dock to shore. It weighed five pounds.
Nicholas V, 06/14/06
Green Swamp, Florida & Chicken Liver
I found your site while trying to find out just what type of fish it was my
boys were catching this weekend. We were fishing for cats in the Green Swamp area of Florida, but brought up several bowfins. I just wanted to let people know that the ones we hooked were caught with raw chicken liver. Thanks for posting the site. It gave me a lot of information. My guys will be thrilled when they learn they caught prehistoric fish!
Plastic Worms in Florida
I'm originally from the Upstate NY - Lake Ontario area ...That
is where I heard bowfins referred to as "Runners" about 20 years ago. I
now live in Central Florida and spend many an exciting afternoon
targeting bowfin and gar. I practice CPR ( Catch - Photograph - Release
) I fish a small lake (1000+ acres) surrounded by cypress swamps where
almost all fish grow to be exceptionally large ... the bream are on
steroids, a 3lb b@$$ is a small one and the gators will steal a fish if
you take too long gettin' it into the boat. My favorite technique for
bowfin (mudfish) is to cast a 10" black worm parallel to a shallow weed
bed before reeling it slowly back to the boat. There is never a
question if you have a 'fin on the line - the strike is unmistakable as
is the battle that follows. Regrettably many of the local fisherman
will kill a 'fin or a gar when they catch them. I use Spider Wire XXX
Super Mono on all my reels. I lose a few to line breakage on the 8#
test but have yet to have 10# let me down.
I found your website on www.fishinsecrects.com If you look there in their "Warm Water section" I believe that there is a pic or 2 posted of a bowfin that would be a state record. I do sometimes target them at the end of a long day on the Everglades. There are literally millions of them and it is nothing to catch 10 an hr. Most run 5-8 lbs but there are some 20+ lb'rs quite often. I usually use a Clouser with 40lb bite leader
FlyFishBowfin, Florida, 03/13/06
Hi Friends, I am from Italy, my name is Alessandro C, and during my trip to Florida for the B@$$ Master Classic I landed this beautiful Bowfin. The weight I don't know.
This monster bit my spinnerbait, a Nichols 3/8 oz, crappie color, near some weeds and trees in shallow water about 4 ft. During the fight, I used a light tackle rig for b@$$ fishing - Gary Loomis GLX rod 6'6" med.3/8oz-3/4 oz, Shimano Curado 201 B, and Trilene XT 12 lb.
My fishing guide, Chuck, who helped me land her is also in the photos. This bowfin jumped and fought better than a b@$$. I am very glad for this unfogettable encounter!! Of course, this was a catch and release Bowfin!
Thanks in advance,
Alex C, Florida, 03/06/06
Another great day finnin'. I've got a new recipe idea for this
Went fishing today and it was a bowfin kinda day. I'm still working on
my bowfin cookbook so these went to good use. Thanks,
DuaneR, Tampa FL, 12/15/05
the most recent catch from the Ocklawaha
River in Ocala, Florida It's 28" in length and caught using ultralight
tackle on a black and yellow beetlespin
Caught by Capt. Al - 09/03/05
fishing the Ocklawaha River in Ocala, Florida for B@$$,
Crappie and Catfish, we've had pretty good luck. During the last couple
of months, everything we threw in seemed to be attracting Bowfin. The
day we caught this one, we caught 8 Bowfin using live shiners on light
tackle and one on a Beetle Spin using ultra-light tackle. We've caught
them also on chicken livers while fishing the bottom, at night for
catfish. We seldom weigh the fish we catch, we photograph and release
Jim R 05/24/05
son, Eddie, wanted to catch a mudfish very
badly. So, we went to the Everglades, and found a spot where three
canals intersected, and they were moving water. It was at Sawgrass
(that's right off 75 outside of Fort Lauderdale). The place was loaded
with fish. b@$$ fry were everywhere, and we saw hundreds of small gar
eating them. I have never seen so many gar in my life. At any given
time there were 30 or 40 slurping fry off the top, all within a cast.
The bowfin were feeding right underneath the gar. Every drift with a
shiner produced a bite, but mostly gar. Finally, after about an hour,
the float went down, and stayed down. After a short fight, we had a mud
around 5-6 pounds. My other son got one a few minutes later around 3
pounds. If you want to catch these fish, go to the Everglades when the
water is low. It pulls them off the flats, and they load up in the
canals. Eddie will get a kick out of seeing himself on your site. Great
site, by the way.
Caught on Lake Okeechobee last week. It was sunny, caught on a
I just caught my first bowfin ever, and I'm sure glad I've
found this site!! I just got a canoe this Friday, and christened it in
the Hillsborough River Sunday afternoon. I was fishing with a light rod
and 10 lb Spiderwire with a box of basic brass hooks and a light bobber
about 3 inches over a 12 inch black steel leader. Up until now, I've
been restricted to Florida pier and shore fishing, which for me at
least has been less than eventful, an occasional croaker or bluegill.
I started the day with a dozen worms from my backyard and
drifted down Hillsborough River with the current, casting towards the
edges of lilies and more often than not pulling up a bluegill within a
few minutes, which I dropped in a flow-through bucket dragging behind
my boat. As I drifted over a particularly clear section of the river, I
noticed a swirl in the water several feet from the shore. I cast a bit
in front of him and managed to lure him near enough to the boat to see
a HUGE fish (especially compared to bluegill!!), I think it was around
20 inches. He trailed off following my bait as soon as I let it drift
downwards again, much to my dismay. I pulled off to the side, dropped
anchor, put on the biggest hook I had (a brass bait hook- not too
large) and cast a few times back to where I'd first seen him. My worms
got nibbled to death by the crappies I'd been so eagerly casting for
before. A little frustrated, I catch a swirl out of the corner of my
eye. Looking down, there is ANOTHER bowfin, even bigger, lounging next
to my boat as he sniffs my catch bucket. If I had a net I could have
just scooped him out of the water without a line. He had no fear, but
certainly looked used to causing a bit of it. Trying to sneakily drop
my line in a few feet away from him, he quickly darts to the bottom and
away from sight.
I take his cue and grab a sunnie from my catch bucket to
entice such a beautiful catch. I still had no idea what I was fishing
for, but it looked FUN and tasty, too, kind of like a mullet. So I put
a slice of fish on my reel and cast a little more toward the center.
Watching my bobber intensely for the next few minutes, I almost miss
the way it subtly sinks into the water at a slow angle. Slowly I put
some tension on the line, anticipating and waiting for a STRIKE, but my
bobber just skims slowly beneath the surface. Nervously, I decide to
try setting the hook and hope for the best. I give a light tug on the
pole hoping he'll retake it if I pull it out of his mouth and
WHIZZZZZZZZZ my line starts flying off the reel. I see my line heading
straight for a cluster of submerged logs and turn up the drag, leaning
my pole left to try changing his direction. It felt like a tug-o-war
competition for the next few minutes, slowly reeling him in when he
gives me enough slack. I finally pull him into the boat and see a
20-inch fish I can't recognize with a rounded tail and long fin down
his back. I asked everyone I passed with a fishing pole about it, and
the only answer I got was "mudfish" and "they're not good for eating."
I hooked three more that day but released the one that didn't
spit my hook or cut my line above the leader. I kept the first anyway
and made some good stew with him. And I am ever so grateful for this
site, which has enlightened me so much about this ancient fish. Thank
you all for sharing your stories and for the chance to share my first
experience with this great fighter.
Bowfin was the first real fish my husband
ever caught. We went out on Lake Harris in Florida on a pontoon and
took it trolling into the mouth of a small canal. He landed it on a fat
Rapala and when we brought it in the boat we had no idea what it was. I
couldn't find it in our fish guide. We put it in our live well until we
could find someone to identify it. Halfway across the lake I peeked in
to check on it and it jumped out onto the deck! It took years to get my
husband fishing and now he's hooked.
Janet & Eric C 07/11/04
have been fishing for about 30 years. Until this
year, I have never seen a bowfin. This is the third bowfin that was
caught in my presence this year. One was caught by John E, my
brother-in-law in March. Another caught in April by me. Both of those
were caught in the Delaware River on the Pennsylvania side. Well, here
is another one! I went to Lake Okeechobee fishing for largemouth, and
my friend and guide, Captain Jerry W, hooked into this beautiful
bowfin. I had to take a picture! Hope you enjoy. Even though I missed
my bubba b@$$, it was good to see this beauty come to the boat for a
photo session. The bowfin was released unharmed. BTW, we did see
several swimming around. This looked like a prime place for some
bowfinning. We launched from Roland Martin's Marina, and fishing a spot
called Cochran's run.
Paul W 08/25/04
wife and I recently moved from St. Petersburg
to the Tsala Apopka chain of lakes in Inverness, (north central) Fl.
Over the Memorial Day weekend, (although it was 90+ degrees and the
water is down about 2 feet from normal), the fishing (right off the
dock) turned out great!! Numerous bream by both our nephews, a nice
b@$$ (which got away, but not before everyone saw it), and a fish which
in all my years fishing in Georgia and Florida I have never seen
before. After some research I found it to be a bowfin, and then found
your site. I couldn't resist showing off Jay's first bowfin. In
addition, I would like to mention that Josh (Jay's brother) caught a
nice gar which was not caught on camera as it was after dark, but which
I identified for him by finding your sister site. Maybe next time we
can capture and post his picture there. Thanks for two nice sites.
are a couple of fish caught from the canal
in the back of my house in Coral Springs, Florida. I believe these fish
are bowfin, however my neighbor insists they are an oriental fish known
as a snakehead. Can you help me with this?
Thanks Ron M 4/22/04
This Bowfin was caught by my wife, Tamatha B, last
Saturday (March 27, 2004) on Newnan's Lake, Florida. We used frozen
SQUID chunks. We have always had success catching Bowfin on frozen
shrimp, but the bait shop was out of that, so we tried squid. This was
the first time I ate a Bowfin, and it was delicious -- it filleted
nicely (no bones) and had a very mild taste.
Dr. Greg P.
Department of Zoology
University of Florida
Thanks for your note. I've
attached an original of the only photo that we took. I don't fish for
bowfin, but frequently catch them while fishing for b@$$ here in S.
Florida. They love plastic worms and jigs, as I'm sure you know. There
are days in the everglades when we will catch only three b@$$, but
twenty bowfin in the 3-5 lb. range. Bowfin will cooperate, it seems,
even during the dog days of summer when the air is dead and the temp
hits 95 and you almost can't stand to be in the boat.This particular
fish, I caught while bank fishing in the New River Canal, near the
intersection of I-595 and Hiatus Road, in Plantation, FL - a suburb of
Fort Lauderdale. My friend, Ron First, and I were using live shiners
that morning trying to catch one of the snook that hang out under the
Hiatus bridge. The gar got most of our shiners, but we managed to catch
a couple of small b@$$ and were about to call it quits when a kid
fishing nearby caught a 4-inch bluegill and tossed it up into the
weeds. I walked over, searched the weeds and pulled the already
ant-covered bluegill out of the dirty grass and hooked him through the
back. I cast to the edge of a hydrilla mat and within about four
seconds my float ran sideways under the hydrilla at about 20 mph and
you can imagine the rest. I had no idea what was on the other end
because it just bore towards the bottom and kinda stayed there. I was
using some pretty stout b@$$ tackle so I walked him across the canal
pretty well but when he got close to me he just exploded TOWARD me and
literally came completely out of the water with that melon-sized head
and those bottle-opener teeth snapping. I really freaked out but
managed to keep my composure through two more of these jumps then I
"slid" the fish onto the top of the hydrilla mat and Ron, using a towel
to cover his hand and forearm, grabbed the fish by the lower jaw and
dragged him out. We quickly took this photo, weighed the fish on a
portable scale from b@$$ pro shops, and let him go - back into the
canal. I've never caught one that big, most of my bowfin have been in
the 3-5 lb. range, but in searching the records I believe this
particular fish is within about two pounds of the Florida record. I
love catching bowfin and, despite my "healthy respect" for their teeth
etc., I'm getting better at handling them. Though a lot of b@$$
fishermen consider them pests, I think they're beautiful and nature
sure hasn't changed them much over the millions of years they've been
Here are some pics. The wife and I went today and it was my turn. This
one fought well but I got him. As it says on the pic he was 6 lb and
25". It seemed to taper off as the day wore on. We had quite a few
bites up until lunch and then as the wind picked up the fish stopped
hitting. Do you ever see them hitting bait on the surface? They do it
here all day...I don't know what they hit but they are definitely going
after something. You can see the entire fish as they strike. I tried
various top water lures with no luck. So far the b@$$ worms rule and
they must be fished slowly on the bottom. Today it was black with
chartruese tails that they wanted. As you can see, Hatbill Park has
loads of vegetation. The water is stained (tea colored "tannic"). I
don't think its over 3 feet deep anywhere. There is one particular type
of vegetation that they seem to like. Its very "leafy". There are also
LOTS of big gators here. They grunt to communicate with each other. It
is quite a sound. We got to within 10 feet of quite a few today. This
spot is about 10 miles from the space center (the cape). Hope you like
the pics. Damn I love fishing.....see ya later.
Florida John G
Hatbill Park, FL
My wife caught the Bowfin a hundred yards west of Hatbill park
in Brevard Cty. (2-3miles South of Hwy 46 and about 5 miles West of
I-95)(West of Mims). It was day before yesterday (Thursday the 13th of
We went to see if there might be a B@$$ there. Its the St.
John's Prairie. Found no B@$$ but she caught this 23" (5 lb) Bowfin on
a bright yellow rubber b@$$ worm. We were stopped with the bow (trollin
motor actually) of the boat stuck in some grass. The water was still
right around us but flowing pretty good everywhere else. It was about
2-3 feet deep and very Tannic stained water with a muddy bottom with
She cast the worm onto the grass (I had rigged it weedless)
and then pulled it slowly out of the grass and let it fall into the
water and sink to the bottom and then reeled it in slowly (have real
good luck doing this on Lilly Pads particularly). The fish took it very
easily and she thought she had snagged the bottom until she gave a
"yank". He took off rolling and going a little nuts. He fought her
pretty hard....her drag was squawling for a minute.
I think she's ready for another one (she loves to fish...we go
every day somewhere).. We had no idea what type fish it was.....looked
prehistoric and those teeth !!!... We came home and found it on the NET
(exact description and photos) at www.bowfinanglers.com.
I got a few nibbles like she had gotten as well but never
hooked up....I was using a Green and purple metal flake worm...both
worms were rigged with a bullet weight on the front of the worm (1/16
oz) to make it sink (Carolina rigged??) and the hook tip was buried in
the worm to make it weedless.
We use St. Croix Rods (7' medium) with Shimano Stradic 4000
reels....Powerpro 30lb test with 30lb. Florocarbon leader...It is a
tremendously tough combo so far. and the Florocarbon dissappears in
water....sure you know all this....We fish Mosquito Lagoon often for
Reds and Trout and these Rigs work well. The powerpro 30 line is about
like 10-12lb. Mono in size and casts really easily.
Anyway, we will surely go back and see if we can find more
Florida John G
December 2002, Central Florida
Bettie caught this 'fin recently using an Ultralight Gold Zebco 11T triggerspin reel spooled w/ 8# Spiderwire XXX Mono and coupled w/ a Shakespeare Alpha Ultralite graphite rod. She cast a black Berkely power worm within inches of heavy cover. As she slowly worked the worm back to the boat, the water exploded with the unmistakable strike of a bowfin. After several minutes of battle where it was uncertain who was winning, I scooped this 'fin up in my net. His thrashing tore thru the bottom of my net but the line held and we got to take this photo before returning him to the water. This was Bettie's first bowfin and her most exciting catch to date.
Tackle & Techniques
In Central Florida just about any freshwater puddle of any
size holds bowfin. The fresh water areas where you would look for b@$$
would be great for 'fins. Lake Harney and it's tributaries are full of
large 'fins and gar as is Farm13 Stick Marsh down by Melbourne. I've
spent about 20 hrs on the water in my last 4 outings w/o a 'fin so I'd
say that they probably are not biting on artificials right now (early
February). Like b@$$, you can catch them year round on shiners or any
hunk of live bait trailed slowly behind a spinner. Stick w/ the
shoreline, casting parallel as much as possible. Once the weather warms
(mid March) I like to use 8" black worms, or a dark colored Bushhog
(Walmart) coated liberally w/ Kick'n B@$$ crawfish scent. I generally
avoid treble hooks 'cause all it takes is one and with as much
thrashing as a 'fin does I find it alot easier to release one hook than
two or three. I'm looking forward to trying the new Strike King and
Terminator floating plastics Carolina Rigged cause they are supposed to
be super durable. Carolina rigging generally has a free sliding bullet
weight 6"-18" ahead of the worm with a swivel between the weight and
the worm to keep them separated, tip of the hook buried in the body of
the lure, of course. I prefer Carolina rigging because I pickup less
vegetation. I also believe that the worm shows better action and I feel
the strike sooner. If you are further north in FL you should check out
the Highland Park Fish Camp on SR 44 and there are plenty of oxbows in
the Dead Norris River or any of the other tributaries of the St John.
Fish the slower moving shallower parts of these waters near the weeds
and close to the bottom and hang onto your pole ... many of the largest
bowfins I've met were in less than two feet of water. There is also a
public boat launch about 2 miles west on SR 44. I buy most of my tackle
at Walmart and Kmart ('cause I'm cheap) but I get my Kick n' B@$$ at a
number of tackle websites.