"We'll retire to Florida and golf." Golf? You gotta be kiddin! Go finnin'!!! There are plenty of hotspots and great weather year round so there should be pics every month! Send those pics!

Don’t wait for me! Now you can post your own pictures on the GASSBAG Message Board. You can post links to your photo sharing site or upload them from your computer. Add your hotspot information too!

The Yellow dots indicate the State Record (lb-oz or 00.00 lb), the Red dots are other fin locations that have been revealed to us. They link to Topozone maps that get you in the neighborhood, if not to the exact spot. The Photos name the location the fins were caught (if known). Thanks to Dave D (Osama Bin Bowfin) for this idea.

February 2013, Loc'n Unknown, Panhandle

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)
MD, 02/02/13

January 2013, Land O' Lakes

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
MikeA, 01/19/13

December 2011, Lutz, Florida

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.
PatrickP, 12/18/11

December 2011, Loc'n Unknown

Today I caught a Big Ol' Bowfin in South Florida on a small jig and his little brother.
Tight lines!
Elman M 12/12/11

November 2011, Loc'n Unknown

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!
Tight lines!
Elman M 11/28/11

August 2011, Loc'n Unknown

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

August 2011, Loc'n Unknown

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.
Tight lines!
Elman M 08/29/11

May 2011, Loc'n Unknown

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.
JimmyW 05/02/11

April 2011, Reunion Resort in Orlando

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

July 2010, Lake Mary

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!

EfrainJ, 01/04/10

August 2009, Escambia River

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

June 2009, Holden Pond Park

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

April 2009, Withlacoochee River North

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

April 2009, Lake Okahumpka

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

If you didn't have it weighed on certified scales and verified by DNR, you'll kick yourself. The FFHOF 4# tippet record for Kept bowfin is 7-0, the Unlimited is 8-14, the largest fly fin recognized is 9-11. For Catch and Release, there is no separate Fly category and the record is 37" (see our Top Ten page) You can find an application here (both Kept and Released - keep 'em handy for the next whopper).

January 2009, Beacon Woods Creek

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

January 2009, Lake Arbuckle

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.
Thank You,
Ray R, 01/05/08

October 2008, Lake Sheen (Orlando)

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.
Thank You,
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.
CarlM, 10/17/08

July 2008, Suwannee River

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

June 2008, Lake Jesup

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

June 2008, Julington Creek

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

May 2008, Ocklawaha River

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!
KevinD, 05/27/08

May 2008, Ocklawaha River

Dear BAGman,
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!!!!!!!!!!!!
Donald, 05/22/08.

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 of it!
Shawn and Molly C, 04/24/08.

April 2008, Rim Canal, Lake Okeechobee

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.
DarrylB, 04/22/08

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.
Best Regards,
A. E. 02/06/08

At time of posting, this fish made #7 on the Top Ten. Congrats A.!

December 2007, Lake Marion

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

October 2007, Lake Sheen (Orlando)

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

October 2007, Lake Tarpon

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. Much Thanks,

Rand D, 10/24/07

September 2007, Lake Sheen (Orlando)

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

September 2007

Original drawings by NickV, 09/13/07.

July 2007, Withlacoochee River

Hey BAGman!
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

July 2007, Lake Sheen (Orlando)

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).
June 4
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).
June 6
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.
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

May 2007, Lake Washington

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

April 2007, Lake Albert, Graceville

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

March 2007, Lake Sheen (Orlando)

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

January 2007, Lake Sheen (Orlando)

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

December 2006, Naples Canals

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

November 2006, Lake Mary

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

October 2006, Lake Sheen (Orlando)

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

October 2006, Lake Washington

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

October 2006, Lake Sheen (Orlando)

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

September 2006, Lake Washington

Good afternoon,
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.
Thank you,
Norman G, 09/11/06

August 2006, Lake Sheen (Orlando)

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

July 2006, Lake Sheen (Orlando)

Hey Bagman,
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

Hi BAGman,
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

June 2006, Lake Sheen (Orlando)

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!
KCB 04/11/06

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.
John B

March 2006

The Everglades

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

Location Unknown

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

January 2006, Hillsborough River

Another great day finnin'. I've got a new recipe idea for this guy.
DuaneR 01/06/06

December 2005, Hillsborough River

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

September 2005, Ocklawaha River

Here's 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

May 2005, Ocklawaha River

While 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 them. Thanks,
Jim R 05/24/05

February 2005, The Everglades

My 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.
JimG 020805

January 2005, Lake Okeechobee

Taciturn Dave H writes:

Caught on Lake Okeechobee last week. It was sunny, caught on a live-lined shiner

Hillsborough River, FL - First Fin!

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.
Canoefisher 04/11/04

July 2004, Lake Harris

This 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

August 2004, Lake Okeechobee

I 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

May 2004, Tsala Apoka Chain

My 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.
Jim W.

April 2004, New River Canal

These 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

Those are a beautiful pair of bowfin, a native American species. The anal fin is a dead giveaway - on a snakehead it is about 1/4 of the body length, while the fin has a short "normal" anal fin. See our Bowfin Info page.
Good finnin'

March 2004, Newnan's Lake

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

May 2003, New River Canal

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 around.

March 2003, St. John's River

Hey BAGman,
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 Feb.).

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 sandy spots..

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 "Fins"....
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.
Happy Hookin'
John B

All rights reserved. No part of this website may be copied, posted, or reproduced in any manner without written consent from the Editor. Be sure our favorite fish is in the Subject line. ©2002-2016 Bowfin Anglers Group. Sitemap