North Carolina 2006 and Earlier

The Yellow dots indicate the State Record (lb-oz or 00.00 lb), the Red dots are other fin hotspots (a blue dot is a point of interest). They link to Topozone maps that get you in the neighborhood, if not to the exact spot. Thanks to Dave D (Osama Bin Bowfin) for this idea.

NEW! The Green dots link to a page with expanded information about a Bowfin Hotspot. Thanks to HenryV for this page idea.

You NC finners just had too much for one page. Click here for 2007 or 2008 and newer.

December 2006, A Marine's story

For more than a year I've been visiting this site and patiently waiting. See I'm a Marine stationed in Okinawa, and there is no fresh water fishing on the island. My last station was on Camp LeJeune NC, prime bowfin territory. As luck would have it I didn't find this site until I left for the orient. I have caught several Mud Fish but I've never targeted them specifically. When I found this site I couldn't believe there were other people who enjoyed the fish as much as I have. And at last I have orders back to LeJeune in the spring, finning here I come.

My interest in finning started when I was young. While fishing for brim in the local pond my father caught a Bowfin. I was about 8 and I found this fish very interesting. As I got older we switched from brim to B@$$. Trent, White Oak, Cape Fear and the Neuse rivers were our favorites. Many hours were spent in the pursuit of B@SS typically with low numbers and smaller fish as the result. Through the years there were a few more brushes with Bowfin. Our fishing buddies would always react negatively to any contact with them. Most of the time it was just lost plastic worms, cut off by there teeth. From the way they talked they were the lowest form of life to swim. I always thought differently. When my father retired from the Marines we moved to Eastern Tennessee. No Bowfins there but the real B@SS (Small Mouth) lives here. Then it happened.

I joined the Marines and returned to Camp LeJeune. A lot of my buddies had never been fishing so I used to take them. Most of the time we went to the same pond. One day I decided to see if anything big lived there. On a medium heavy rod I put a large minnow and a bobber. As we caught brim I kept an eye on the float which I just let drift. All of a sudden the bobber disappeared! I grabbed the rod and set the hook. An epic battle ensued. My buddies watched with amazement as the unseen fish bent the rod to the handle and made the drag sing. After several amazingly powerful runs I wasn't sure if I had tough enough tackle to bring this beast in. I got it close to the surface and identified it as a bowfin.....a BIG one! Everyone took a step back when I told them it had teeth. Ten minutes after the battle started the fin was done playing with me and cut the line. I was mad to loose such a large fish but proud to have battled her. It wasn't a total loss though, I knew were she lives.

Two weeks later I returned with steel leaders and the same friends. I threw out the minnow and waited. Sure enough the big fin obliged. I though this time I had her. I was wrong. She broke my line and kept the leader, 20lbs test Stren snapped like it was thread. This was not going to be easy!

Two weeks after that I went to try again. This time all alone, my friend thought I couldn't land it. Out goes the minnow and I start catching brim. An hour or two after I started fishing a man pulled into the parking lot with car trouble. I reeled in my lines to go help him. After we determined a tow was in order we were looking at the pond and talking when I noticed I forgot to reel in the minnow in. I started for the pole as the bobber went down. Just before the Bowfin claimed a good rod I grabbed it. Game on! Again the battle was savage. I had fought this same fish twice before and still couldn't believe its power. The fight lasted an easy 15 minutes, all the while the stranger watched stunned. I had brought a net this time but I left it in my trunk. The keys of course were in my pocket. Not wanting a strangers hand in my pocket I decided to grab it by its gill plate. When it got close enough I handed him the rod and got in the water with this monster. She seemed played out after a fierce fight and I picked her up pretty easy. I could not believe the size of this fish! Smiling like an idiot I stood there taking the hook out. I was holding the fish almost at my hip and its tail touched the ground. I threw the keys to the man and asked if he'd get my camera and take a picture. All of a sudden the fish sprang back. She shook violently and got out of my hand and returned to the water. I think the guy felt worse about it than I did. But its OK, I still know were she lives and I'm heading there as soon as I get back!!! And when I catch her this time I will send the pictures for you all to see BEFORE I release her.
BusterB, 12/27/06

October 2006, Little River

My son, Derek A, caught a nice 4 lb. cypress trout in a grist mill pond on the Little River In Johnston Co. NC on 10/7. It was his first bowfin. He caught him on a Texas-rigged plastic worm in the primrose.
Hal A, 10/18/06

August 2006, Perquimans River (Hertford)

Attached are a couple of pictures from last week 7/31/06. The lady's name is Desiree H. The bowfin was 12.16 lbs. She was fishing with Captain Gary M of Citation Guide Services, Hertford, NC. She also caught 4 other Bowfins between 6 and 8 pounds and an eleven pound gar. All fish were caught on squid.
GaryM, 08/08/06

July 2006, Durham Impoundments

Hey BAGman,
I'm still chasing Tim G but I caught a few more in my pursuit of a 15 lb Bowfin. Once again I have to say if you want a fight to remember go ultra light with a low pound test. I use 6lb Suffix performance braid and it hasn't failed me yet! I caught the 3lb fin on a jerk bait in muddy water. The 9lb one was caught on the back side of the impoundment in a swampy pond with a weedless frog. I love catching this fish! Tim G I'm still chasing Ya!
ShawnW, 07/11/06

The small one is leucistic at least, and may be a full albino. Nice catch!

June 2006, Durham Impoundments

Hey BAGman,
I'm still trying for my 15 pound bowfin but I did catch one more to add to my collection. And for a challenge I decided to try to catch them on fluorocarbon. I have to say if you want a challenge try some fluorocarbon. It appears to have to have the strength to handle an 8+ pound bowfin on 4 pound test! It's been difficult for me catching them lately. The impound I fish is small (I almost feel like I've caught most of them) so I'm having to switch up try lures that I haven't used in a while. A couple of jigs and some grubs that I haven't used in years. The bowfin were all over them. I guess showing them something new got them going. The bad part is I couldn't set the hook the way I can with braid. But the fight was great! I was curious what is the most popular lure for bowfin. I also fish the swamp on the back of the impound with a tube...running it across the surface of the weeds. Those bowfin hunt differently. They're surface hunters. I guess different environment different fishing tactics. But I'm still catching them...even in the rain!
ShawnW, 06/15/06

June 2006, Great Dismal Swamp, Lower Deadwater Creek

I'm hooked on bowfin (having just caught my first one!) Thanks for your informative website that quieted down my snobbish fellow fisherman. The best they would say when we ate it was, "It's not real sucky." I think they were just jealous. Scope out the one I'm talking about, caught in Lower Deadwater Creek in The Great Dismal Swamp (part of the Roanoke River Basin in North Carolina).
Mike H, 06/13/06

June 2006, Edenton Canals

Here's my catch from a small canal off of the Albermarle Sound in NC. The big one is almost 8lbs. We catch a lot of Gar and Fins with cut sunfish, as well as the stray catfish and once a huge crappie! Thanks for the site as I'm now looking forward to my first meal of Fin!
EricS, 06/02/06

May 2006, Alligator River

I am part of a group of old farts that fish the "Alligator River" in NC. We call our group Bowfinners Anonymous. Here I am with a recent catch. Not bad!!! On Saturday night we have our annual "bowfry". We clean and cook our catch from the week-end. Enjoyed your website and will send some updates from time to time.
Eddie "The Miracle", 05/26/06

May 2006, Durham Impoundments

Hey BAGman,
I caught some new bowfin and want to tell all that the new lure called the "Chatterbait" that is suppose to be great for b@$$ is also a great bowfin catcher. I caught these 6.5 and 6 pound bowfin on the Chatterbait. This lure is great and I have to give it it's props! I'm looking for my 15 lb bowfin stay tuned!
ShawnW, 05/17/06

Hey BAGman,
I have also gotten my fiancee into the bowfin fishing scene as well. Here is a picture of her 5 pound bowfin on an ultra light system. I'm also including a picture of a different looking bowfin. Almost looks like a chain pickerel!
ShawnW, 05/16/06

Hey BAGman,
I love your website! I got into bowfin fishing early this year and have been hooked ever since. I started fishing for them to practice my b@$$ fishing but these fins hit harder. I bagged a couple of nice ones fishing at my local waterfowl impoundment in Durham, North Carolina. I started catching them on a Texas-rigged worm, then moved to tubes, and I know they are hitting even crankbaits. Most say it's best to fish for them using braided fishing line and the best I've found is Suffix performance braid. I use 6 pound test on an ultra light spin system. Love the fight!
ShawnW, 05/13/06

April 2006, Tarklin Creek

Today, My mom, Deborah S, caught her 1st bowfin...26 inches. She and my father released it after putting it in a cooler and driving it around town to find out what kind of fish it was. My dad had an even bigger one on the hook yesterday but it snapped the line just as they were getting it on the dock. They live on Tarklin Creek in NC (just off Dawson Creek and the Neuse River). They have the fever now and can't wait to catch another tomorrow!
Carla S 04/20/06

October 2005, Contentea Creek

My name is Kevin B and I am a big bowfin fishing fan from North Carolina. About 2 weeks ago, my nephew Jeffery and I caught these fish on Contentnea Creek tributary of the Neuse river. The weather is just starting to cool down and bowfin fishing really starts getting good now until about December. We caught about 20 fish that day, the biggest was 36 inches long and he was over 10 lb

[Ed. note - by the Weight Tables a good 15 pounds!]

We release all our fish. A lot of people here consider them a nuisance and kill them, but they sure put up a fight so we release them to fight again.
KevinB 10/16/05

June 2005, White Oak River (just south of Maysville Rock Quarry)

I caught a beautiful bowfin on Saturday in the White Oak River above Haywood Landing and south of Maysville, North Carolina. I was fishing for bass with topwater deer hair flies when a 27 inch bowfin hit the fly.
DougS 06/27/05

February 2005, Cape Fear River

Sorry it's been awhile since I have sent any pics of the Mighty Bowfin your way. To be honest, this weekend was the first real time I have had to fish for them since summer. I am back though, the weather is getting warm and the Fins are really showing up. The two pics attached are of 2 of the 4 fins I caught this past Saturday. It was pretty chilly out but they still bit the Culprit Bassworm I was using. The second one is about the fattest Fin I have seen in some time, he fought like a tank. Anyway, I'll keep you posted on any more Fins I pull in. The site is really looking great. It is just so great that you dedicate your time to further the sport of Fin Fishing. Keep it up...
Jeff C. (tangmus) 02/28/05

December 2004, Loc'n Unknown

October 8th 2004
Seven year old, Christopher, caught his first bowfin, 23 inches. We ate this one, it was ok. We went back the next week and he brought in another one around the same size out of a small private pond in NC. That was one happy boy. After we ate the filets, we dissected the carcass. You see, we are homeschoolers and make the most of every learning opportunity. The liver and egg sacks were huge. The boys enjoyed dissecting it. Since the fish is big, it makes for great specimen. What a day we had!

Oct 2, 2004
Matthew brought in his first bowfin. He had hooked into several before, but they always broke the line before we got them up on shore. We've fixed that problem with some steel leaders. I wanted to go fish so I dragged him along and he pulls in a 23" bowfin. I only caught some bream but it was fun seeing him bring his in. They are one fighting fish! I'm still looking for a bigger one. I love seeing the pictures and reading the stories on your site. North Carolina can have some warm days in the winter so I'll be sending a picture of me with a bowfin the next time it is warm enough.

July 2004

New River

Hey all, this bull was caught on 10 July 2004, just off the Hwy 17 by Marine Corps Air Station New River, Jacksonville, NC. Sorry for the resolution...took the pic from a cell phone. This is my first bowfin catch ever, since moving out here from Southern California. I am normally used to catching trout, bass & bluegill. It was a fun fight, and used Power Bait tequila worms with 14 lb test line. Better yet, it was only my second cast of the day. The fish measured out as follows: Length: 24 inches.. Girth: 11.8 inches.. Weight: 5 pounds
BrianL 07/10/04

Loc'n Unknown

AdrianB landed some nice fins from a private area in NC. Adrian's story:

I had a good week of fishing. It started out normally, losing lures and tree fishing and then it was on. I was getting bites all the way up to the land and when I saw them - WHAT A RUSH!!!! I couldn't stop shaking. My casts went every where but in the water. Then it started to rain, so I gathered myself, had cold soda and a smoke. About the time the rain started to quit a longnose gar swam out the current and just circled around about 4 in. from top. Had to have been at least 3 1/2 to 4 foot long. I threw and threw but no luck. 07/04/04

Cape Fear River

BAGman, Boy has this weekend been good. I have never had more fun fishing in my life. I took a friend of mine fishing for Fins and we tore it up! I caught my largest Fin of the summer at 10 lbs.and my friend, who hasn't fished for Fins in a long time caught an 11 lb. I attached the pictures of those and some other nice sized Fins. I can't describe how awesome it was catching these fish. We used a bass worm and I swear you got a bite on :almost every cast. You never get tired of feeling that little "tonk" on the end of your line. Anyway, I'll be back out on the hunt for the double-digit mamas tomorrow after getting a new fishing license and I'll keep you updated. By the way, thanks for having such a great site and for keeping it up to date and such. I can't say I go to any site more than BAG. Jeff C N. Cape Fear R, NC 07/03/04

Jas's 11 pounder

Jeff's 10 pounder

Thanks Jeff. It's all the contributions from members like you that make this a great site!
Good Finnin'

My First Fin

I was about 8 years old and I had only just discovered the wonderful joys of fishing. A neighbor down the street from my house was more than generous in letting me fish in his pond almost everyday. Sure most of my friends were into sports, I was also, to an extent (a little baseball), but I spent the majority of my free time fishing. In that little donut-shaped pond I learned how to fish and fish successfully. Seldom did I have anybody to fish with me except a little mutt named Lady. Most days after school I would get my cheap Shakespeare fishing rod and my dad's old tackle box and ride my bike to the pond and fish until the mosquitoes and deer flies ran me off. Fishing became something I enjoyed more than most things in my life at the time. I got good. My dad would take me fishing and I'd do a decent job out fishing him. My dad would often take my brother and me fishing, when we begged enough to. Needless to say about the time I was 10 years old, fishing was my life.

I remember it was a teacher workday. My dad was working and my brother and I really wanted to go fishing. In no time we had coerced my mom into taking us. We opted to go to a pretty good sized pond in Duplin County called Nash Johnson's Pond. It was a pay-to-fish pond, costing $1 to fish from the bank and $2 from a boat. We fished there for nearly two hours without a bite and were getting bored (I wasn't, I can enjoy fishing all day without a bite sometime, but my brother was a different story). About to give up on the day, my mom decided to take us to what she called her "special fishing hole."

My mom had told us a few stories before of going fishing in a little creek right down the road from where she grew up. One particular story involved her best friend's mother catching what they called a "pike." With my mom being only 8 years old at the time and just starting to enjoy fishing herself, this "pike" was a very elusive fish. The story went like this: My mom and her girlfriend were to go fishing but they had to get their own bait first, which usually involved digging up worms from the floor of an old tobacco barn. There were few worms to be found that day but they did find a small toad and decided to use it. Getting my mom's friend's mother to go with them to the creek, they set off. The fishing was slow. They didn't use the toad for a while and had found crickets near the creek. Running out of crickets my mom's friend put the toad on her hook not meaning to really catch anything. She cast out and set the rod into the grass and walked away to look for more crickets. About a minute later her mother barely caught the pole from sliding into the creek. She fought the fish on the old cane pole for a while before finally heaving the fish onto the bank. What she had caught was a Bowfin and everything about it--the colors, teeth, the shape, the little "boogers" coming from the nose--interested them. My mom had said that it was probably the best day of fishing she had ever had.

This creek, my mom's "special spot", was about a 5-minute drive for where we were. We packed up our stuff and were standing at the little creek before not too long. According to my mom, it was just the same as it has always been; a swampy, black-watered creek about 15 feet wide. We started to fish. After about three or four little bream and warmouth my brother dropped his rod in the water. Luckily the thing floated and would be easy to get out. I took my line and tried to hook the rod floating on the surface of the creek and right as I did I felt the most massive attack on my bait that I ever had. Before I knew what was happening my rod was doubled over and my heart was racing.

Fish always do wait until the most inopportune time to decide to get hungry. All I remember is a fight that lasted what seemed like forever before hauling up a beautiful 3 pound Bowfin. It was a male I now know because the coloring was wonderful right down to the little dark spot on the tail. My mom was the most excited I have ever seen her about fishing, she screamed "Jeffrey, that's a pike bigger that the one Margaret's mom caught." I was too excited to think, here lay the largest fish I had ever caught. Questions ran through my head. How did a fish this size live in a creek so little? What kind of fish is this? It looks like a snake! On that day I never knew that 10 years later I would be spending hours upon hours seeking these rugged, line ripping, adrenaline-pumping fish. I will always remember that day and how it convinced me that there is no other fish that can provide more excitement than the mighty Bowfin.
Jeff C 04/14/04

June 2004

Cape Fear River

Whilst catching 12"-24" bowfin for a scientific research project (See Science), Jeff C also caught this nice 9 pounder and a six pounder as well (right). Thanks for helping,
Jeff. 06/30/04

Black River - State Record (1997)

I just found your web page tonight, and I love it. I never thought that anyone really fished for bowfin (Blackfish in our area) for sport, but for a few guys I know. I thought that you would be interested to see a picture of North Carolina's Record Bowfin. It was caught by my brother, Gregory D Sr. The fish weighed 17lb-15oz, He was 36 and 1/2 inches long, 18 inches in diameter, one monster of a fish [caught 1997]. By the way, if you bowfin anglers ever wondered how a bowfin would look as a mount? They are absolutely gorgeous. He has taken a blue ribbon at the county fair every year he enters his fish. What my brother doesn't know is that I'm in hot pursuit of his state record fish. Hope that you enjoy the photo and may your next fin be a record. Who knows maybe world record?
Yours, A bowfin angling friend,
Allen D

May 2004, Cape Fear River

It has been a while since I've submitted anything due to the river being very high. This weekend was very good, a good bite on almost every cast (granted they are mostly 12" males). Every once in a while you hang up a big one. Anyway, here are some of the photos of the largest, only a few though. The largest one was 9.5 pounds (I'm still waiting for a 12+). I took two pictures of it, one on the front of the boat and another where I tried to set the camera on the seat of the boat and use the timer on the camera, this one didn't come out too good though. The ones I am holding, I caught at night with cut bait and the others I caught with a Bass worm. I also included the catch log data for some of them, most of the time I forget to record this stuff. I am finally done with school for the summer and now I have more time to pursue the RECORD, the NC record will do for me ;-).
Thanks and Tight Lines,
Jeff C (tangmus)

April 2004, Cape Fear River

I thought I'd write some tips of mine for the mighty Fin. I also attached a picture of a Bowfin I caught last weekend that was deformed with a stunted tail. It wasn't as if it had been damaged when the fish was little, it just had grown wrong. Despite the smaller tail, it still fought harder than any I caught in that size range. Kinda ironic I guess.
Jeff C 4/22/04

Went Fishing today at Cape Fear NC and took these pictures. I didn't have anyone fishing with me so they are all taken lying on the boat's floor. I wish I had some of me holding them. Anyway, I am going tomorrow and I'll try to get some more pics if I get some fins. The young man in the photo is my brother Joseph, who caught this fin at the same spot a couple days ago.
Jeff C 04/08/04

Congrats Jeff, looks like a great day finnin'. Jeff is backing up his claim to Best Fin Spot on Earth! We expect to see plenty more.

You NC finners just had too much for one page. Click here for 2007 or 2008 and newer.

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