Long dorsal fin, short anal fin (on the belly closest to the tail), and a smiling mouthful of sharp teeth? That's a bowfin!
- In lakes, look for weedy, sloppy, areas or submerged timber.
- In impoundments, try the tailwaters (downstream of the dam) and the upper fingers.
- In rivers, check the bends, rocks, undercuts, and the deeper pools just below the shallow riffles.
- Visit our maps for known locations near you.
Fins are a four season fish, and although they are caught through the ice, the best time is hot, summer days when nothing else is biting.
- Whatever rod and reel you are most comfortable with.
- 15 to 40 pound braided line, (Fireline, PowerPro, or Cabela's Ripcord) to prevent bite-offs.
- #2 to 2/0 circle hooks for bait (Sharp!).
- Tie hooks and swivels with a Palomar knot.
- Snap swivels are OK for lures, but use premium quality, check and replace them often. You will meet bowfin that straighten snaps and get off, so if this matters to you, tie directly with a Palomar.
- Fresh cutbait - shad, sunnies, bluegills, whatever bait fish in the water. Slash the bait for better scent and easier hook ups.
- Lures - inline spinners (Mepps, Panther Martin), spinnerbaits, weedless plastic worms (Ike-Kon). Sharp hooks!
- Bait - Steady pressure is all that's needed to set a circle hook.
- Lure - A wrist snap is all that needed with the braided line to set the hook.
- Landing - A stout leather glove, wetted, with a firm grip behind the gill plates and/or a lip lock, or
a Grip tool.
- Don't let your guard down - a fin'll play possum and thrash when you least expect it.
- You can bare-hand them, especially smaller ones, but you will bleed from time to time. Flesh heals.
May 2011 - The basics of landing a fin:
- a) Bare/gloved hands is the safest for the fish but most dangerous for the angler. Avoid grabbing the gills and get one or two fingers past the gill and under the gular plate as quickly as possible. This immobilizes the fish. Pinch down hard, grab the tail and lift.
b) Landing net: the next best option, and safest for the angler. Always net the fish tail first and keep the rod high as you lift so as to keep the fish's head away from the mesh.
May 2011 -
Basics of handling a landed fin:
1. Don't let the fish touch the ground, because this removes slime from their scales and makes infection possible. Use wet hands/gloves, for same reason.
2. Don't hold the fish vertically when removing a hook. Hold it horizontally with two hands, and ask someone to get the hook out. Holding a fish horizontally keeps its internal organs in their natural place.
3. If a fish is gut hooked, cut the line and leave the hook. It will rust away.
CPR or RECIPES
Snap quick pics (sun behind the photographer, focus on the subject, big and clear photos - Nick's pic at the top is ideal), release the fin to fight again, and e-mail pics and the story to firstname.lastname@example.org. Be sure our favorite fish is in the Subject line.
If you want to eat a few in moderation try this recipe:
- Soak skinless bowfin fillets in buttermilk for 4 hours in the fridge.
- Pre-heat oven to 350F.
- Butter a large glass casserole dish.
- Place a layer of sliced onions on bottom of the dish, then layer the fillets on top.
- Pour Italian salad dressing over fin fillets.
- Place another layer of sliced onion on top.
- Cover with tin foil and bake for 30 minutes or until flaky.
- Remove from heat, uncover, and sprinkle chedder cheese on top and recover till melted.
- Salt and pepper to taste or spritz with hot sauce.
This is just a starter, not an end-all. Browse around - there's lots more to learn when you have the time
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