New Jersey

New Jersey - now you're cooking! Send those pics!

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.

August 2011, Hainesville

First bowfin report this year from Hainesville. I was beginning to think there weren't any left in there. I haven't caught any in there in a long time.
Osama Bin Bowfin, 08/21/11

April 2011, Spring Lake (White City Lake)

5:45 PM 4/28/2011 I caught and released a 25.5" female bowfin on a 1/32 oz black leadhead jig and 1" black twister tail on 2 lb test Berkley fluorocarbon line, US Reel Supercaster 225 ultralight spinning reel and 6' Cabela's XML spinning rod in White City Lake, Hamilton Township, NJ, Mercer County. The fish was hooked in the tip of its upper lip outside the teeth. The hook did not penetrate past the barb. The big bow left a trail of bubbles in her wake as she made her first long run. 5 of 6 big fish that I hooked on 2 lb test line this year escaped.
GeorgeH 04/30/11

April 2011, Mullica Hill Pond

I live in Mullica Hill, NJ. I caught the attached fish on Friday 4/15/11 in what we call the Mullica Hill pond on Route 322 (see below). It is basically a large pond on one side of 322 that spills over to a large pool on the other side of the road. I was fishing the spill over area in about 4 ft of water and "BANG". I got a big strike just 5 feet in front of me and pulled up this 5 lb 23 inch fish. Usually I catch small bass or pickerel here and I had no idea what this particular fish was. I sent the picture to my other fishing buddies and one found your web site. Sure enough, it's a Bowfin. I was using a simple 3 inch Zoom Pumpkin grub plastic bait.
Anyway, I am by no means a pro fisherman and I think it was just dumb luck but I am very excited about the catch and wanted to share it with you. I hope I have the opportunity to catch another!
ScottC 04/19/11

January 2011, Loc'n Unknown

It took more than 50 years for me to catch my first bowfin in NJ. Now I catch a few on small jigs each year. I attached a picture of a bowfin that I caught last year in NJ. It has a silhouette of Africa on its tail.
George H, 01/09/11

June 2010, Hainesville

I fished for my first time last weekend at both Bashakill and Hainsville, but ended up with skunks on both nights. This weekend I hit the jackpot with two bowfins. They weren't huge, but at least I caught something. My friends and I went out Saturday night to Hainesville and we were there for quite a few hours. Most of the guys left, but around 3am I ended up landing the first bowfin. I got him up on shore, but he ended up bouncing around and slid back down the bank and into the water before I took a picture. Within about 15 minutes I caught my second bowfin. This one stayed put; so I was able to get a picture.
Osama Bin Bowfin, 06/01/10

October 2009, Gibbstown Floodgates

I visit your site all the time. I've been catching these bowfins in the same creek for over 35 years. It is the same creek that John V on your site caught the white fin. Yesterday we caught four and lost a few at the dock. The big ones get very aggresive when you get them in close, so you better beef up your gear if you want to catch a reel big bow. The one fin had a bad deformed jaw, looks like he might of been hooked years ago and healed up.
I am a meatcutter at a local supermarket here in Logan, New Jersey and I tried using beef strips for bait. They work good but found that beef hearts work even better. Thanks for the great job on this site.
Dan M 10/01/09

July 2009, Hainesville

Hi BAGman,
Sunday July 5th We tried Hainesville (New Jersey), but we caught another skunk. That place took a major downturn since they cleaned out the dam.
Osama Bin Bowfin, 07/13/09

July 2008, Spring Lake

Angler: Justin K
Location: Trenton, NJ
Date: April 12, 2008
Conditions: Cloudy,Partly Windy
Temperature: 74
Length: 24-1/2 in. (personal best)
Weight: 4 lbs. 13 oz. (personal best)
Bait: Live Shiner
Here's a couple of pics of my biggest Bowfin to date. She was hooked no more than a foot in front of me, as I witnessed the whole ordeal. As I was reeling in my shiner, I saw something tailing it to the bank. I thought it was a Chain Pickerel at first, because of the length. To my surprise, it turned out to be another prized catch. I called for my fishing buddy Anthony M to hurry over so he could sneak a peek at the old-timer. No sooner than he stopped in his tracks, we watched as she opened her mouth and engulfed the shiner. I said "I think I'm about to catch this thing." and he replied "yeah, you are." I pulled up on the rod and BAM she was hooked immediately. She tried her hardest to pull me into the lily pads and throw the bait with a magnificent jump. I'll tell you what, I've seen hundreds of Largemouth B@$$ jump, but nothing compares to a Bowfin jump. Just seeing that pre-historic fish in the air above the water on the end of your line is something outta this world. This site rocks and you guys do a heckuva job maintaining it. Thanks.
P.S. I too am also seeking the New Jersey state record.

Date: April 19, 2008
Conditions: Cloudy, Windy
Temperature: 84
Length: 22-1/2 in.
Weight: 3 lbs. 12 oz.
Bait: Live Shiner
After my April 12th catch, I decided to try a new spot in the swamps. I scouted the spot a couple of days prior, and was intrigued by all the movement that was occurring. I saw a couple of wet beavers swimming around and decided I would come back to give it a go. Well, I'm glad I did. I landed this male no sooner I got to fishing. After I hooked into him, he put up a great fight. Every time I got him close enough, he turned around and took right back off. It took nearly 10 minutes to finally land him, but it was worth every minute.

More from this Spring!

I've truly come to appreciate the significance and importance of this species. Bowfin-4-Ever!
JustinK, 07/27/08

June 2008 Hainesville

We went to Hainesville on May 26th for the first bowfin fishing trip of the year. The water level is back to normal, since a lot of branches and water plants went over the dam outflow and clogged up the outflow pipe that was cleared out last year. Great fishing again! It was a bit cold that night, but we still had some success. My friend and I each caught a bowfin that night.
Osama Bin Bowfin, 06/06/08

November 2007, Raccoon Creek

Just wanted to check in and let you know Team "Fowl Hooked" caught our second Bowfin! The usual characters back at the "Bobber Hole"(already noted on map) on Sunday October 28, 2007. Just about 10am, the fishing was slower than usual in our favorite haunt. Even the White Perch or, "Bait Steelers" as we call them were no where to be found.
My main fishing companion Marc got a nice hard hit next to a partially submerged log, so he kept casting the old night crawler into the same spot. When the Bowfin hit the rod bent hard, we were using Eagle Claw 5' ultra-light rods with 6 lb test line. The BF fought like mad as I made my way over to help with the net, it seemed like it was being dragged sideways through the water, but he was not. He was just trying to get away. We got a picture this time on Marc's phone, I will pass it along. This one was about the same size as last time, 20" and maybe 2 or 3 pounds. We have been waiting to pull another one of these mini sea monsters out of the water since our first encounter back in August. In fact, ever time we troll in the morning someone inevitably says, "Maybe today we'll have Bowfin TERROR". I will get the photos out ASAP.
FrankL, 11/02/07

September 2007, Hainesville

Fishing Report for Hainesville, NJ on Saturday 9/1 from midnight until 3am

Friends met up at Hainesville for some bowfin fishing. We were surprised when we arrived. It seems that someone spent a lot of time making the dam higher by wedging stones and sticks all around the concrete half circle. It seems to be working and the water level is already higher. If the person responsible for that is reading this - THANK YOU! It was cold that night, and the action was pretty slow. I had a grand total of one bite, and I lost it in the lily pads.
BAGman - attached are some pictures I took this weekend of the Hainesville area in the daytime. The first two pics are of the Little Flatbrook, which runs into Hainesville, which is larger than Hainesville. Unfortunately, the land is private, and I asked people about fishing and they said the owners don't let anyone there. This is within walking distance of the north end of the lake on Red Hill Road. The second two pics are of Hainesville Pond. This isn't the spot we fish for bowfin, but it gives you an idea of just how weedy the lake is.
Osama Bin Bowfin, 09/06/07

August 2007, Raccoon Creek

My first encounter with a Bowfin was Sunday, August 19th, 2007. My buddies and I were fishing off Raccoon Creek in Swedesboro in a spot we have been fishing for about 5 years. We normally do not target any fish species in particular but have caught a little of everything in this spot. One friend was top water fishing with spinner lures and my usual fishing buddy and I were using the old bobber and night crawler combo that seems to snag any fish type in the neighborhood.

The top water guy had just lost something of fairly good size, so I made a cast into the spot he started to retrieve from. Bang! The rod bent almost down to the reel. I started to reel it in thinking it was another Channel Cat, but it was fighting like mad. I got it up on the boat and we were dumbfounded. No one had any idea what it was. We called another guy on a cell phone to ask his opinion; from our description and he thought it was a Snakehead. When we got home I looked up Snakehead on the net and found a site that said they are often confused with the Bowfin. After seeing the 2 fish together it was obvious that I had snagged a Bowfin. It was approximately 20 inches long and around 3 pounds. Looking forward to this Sunday and a new Bowfin Hunt!
FrankL, 08/27/07

August 2007, Hainesville

Fishing Report for Hainesville, NJ on Friday 8/3/07

We we fishing Friday night at Hainesville, and were suprised when we arrived. The dam that you could barely even tell existed had been opened up. The dam is basically a concrete barrier with an old, rusty turn wheel that probably doesn't even work. Behind the barrier is a concrete container about 6 ft. deep. In the container are two metal tubes that run under the earth dam behind it and flow into a stream. A few years ago, a beaver had filled the container with logs and branches to adjust the water level for his lodge. In one year, the container filled with silt and weeds and you could barely tell it even existed. The water was at it's maximum depth and water went over the spillway on the far end of the earth dam. After the state removed the silt and sticks and opened up the dam, the water level has dropped quite a bit. The concrete barrier looks like it's at it's lowest level, and the old turn wheel doesn't look like it even functions anymore. I don't know why they even bothered cleaning it out, because the beaver is just going to fill it again. Go beaver! I worry that the fishing isn't as good as it was before they cleaned it out. We didn't have a great night. I caught a bowfin and missed two, my brother caught one and missed one. My other friend missed two and caught two snapping turtles. This is a very slow night, and hopefully it's only because the it was an off night, and not because of the water decrease, although I worry that is part of the problem. Here are some pics of the fish that night.

Osama Bin Bowfin, 08/08/07

July 2007, Hainesville

Report I never gave you from two weekends ago: (7/7/07) Went to Bashakill and got skunked.

(7/8/07) Friends and I did some late night fishing at Hainesville. We ended up with 6 bowfins, 10 b@$$, and 1 pickerel. We probably lost just as many that night. This beaver was bothering us all night, slapping his tail and scary away the fish. Well, he was swimming by my friend's light up bobber, when he either got caught on the line, or ended up getting hooked. He took off, and my friend ended up losing all the line off of his spool. He was busy talking to another friend, by the time he turned around and grabbed the pole, he was left with an empty spool. Pickerel was the surprise catch of the night. We lost two light up bobbers, but managed to recover them.

Report (7/20/07) A friend and I went fishing again to Hainesville. I can't get any of them to go to Bashakill anymore, because we are getting many more bites at Hainesville. Most nights it's non-stop action, even though we lose more than we catch because of the heavy cover. It was a slow night, only catching 5 b@$$ and 1 bowfin, and missing many more. (bowfin pic included).

Report (7/21/07) Three friends, my brother, and I went to Hainesville. Action started the first few casts. I ended up with two b@$$ within the first few minutes. After catching the b@$$, it was a comedy act. We lost approximately 15 consecutive fish in a row. We believe most, if not all, were bowfins. We had line snaps, broken hooks and swivels, missed hook sets, tangled in the pads, and even some that fell off as we drug them up onto shore. Most of the fish were hard fighting and probably pretty large from what we could see of them in the water.

Osama Bin Bowfin, 07/24/07

July 2007, Hainesville

I've never caught a Bowfin before and was planning a trip to NY for a shot a one. I found out about Hainesville from the posts here and was happy to find a spot closer than Bashakill. I had a fun nite, catching 6 'fins including a double header. Great fish, great site, looking forward to more.
Pat-The-Nat, 07/20/07

July 2007, Hainesville

We had a great weekend fishing for bowfin. On Friday night, a bunch of us went to the Bashakill, but we only caught three small bowfin. Saturday night we went to Hainesville, and between all of us, we ended up with close to 40 bowfin, and missed many more. There were no stand out fish as far as size is concern. We were catching them so fast, that we got tired from all the action and decided to call it a night. We didn't get much of a chance to relax. At first, I was using two poles, but I had to only use one pole because two poles was too much to handle with all the bites. One of the best nights I've seen in a long time.
Osama Bin Bowfin, 07/03/07

June 2007, Hainesville

Free fishing days (no license required) in NJ on the 9th and 10th of this month. We went back to Hainesville Pond in Sussex County, NJ again this weekend for some late night fishing. We caught some more bowfins, two snapping turtles, several bass, including a 4 lbs one. We even got some fuzzy pics off a camera phone. The one bowfin was a real cool customer, and he was caught out of Hainesville Pond smoking a Newport Light. I warned him about the dangers of air bladder cancer before releasing him. :)

I'm starting to think that place might end up being better than Bashakill, but this place is extremely weedy and very tough to fish. There aren't wide open channels like Bashakill. Spatterdocks make up about 90-95% of the 40 acre lake. and there is heavy milfoil. Lake seems very underfished, because of the tough conditions. Lake has largemouth, pickerel, bowfin, white suckers, and bullheads.
Osama Bin Bowfin, 06/13/07

May 2007, Oldmans Creek

I've been fishing Oldmans Creek in Salem County NJ for 10 years. This week I caught my first male Bowfin. When it came out of the water, I was amazed at the florescent Green fins and the spot on its tail. I caught it using a live minnow. Great fight. We caught several catfish in the same spot and I assumed it was a catfish till it got to the boat.
Best Regards,
Bags 05/17/07

May 2007, Delaware River

I never knew these fish even existed. It took me and my buddies over two hours to figure out what it was. I was fishing for catfish in the Delaware River using worms and some creek chubs from the stream in my back yard. I wasn't getting much attention to either so I cut the chubs head off and tossed it back out. In less than 10 minutes I was getting some bites. I was tending to some firewood when my friend yelled " Chuck- your pole, your pole!". As I looked my rod was about to take a swim( 7ft Berkley rod & reel w/ 15lb shakespeare line ). So I ran over grabbed the rod and line and set the hook. I figured I had a nice 5-7lb channel cat on until my mystery fish came close to the surface. At first quick glance before she started running we thought it was a walleye because of the long dorsal fin. Then, I got her in close again and she opened her maw and we thought it was a muskie. But, she gave us a side view we looked at each other and both said "What the heck is on my line!" When all was done it took me about 15 minutes in 15-20ft water to reel her in.

I'm totally amazed at this fish. The stucture, the raw toughness of the look and feel of this fish is wonderful. I've been fishing in this spot for 18 yrs. I have never caught one nor heard of one being caught there, or anywhere near my area. Sorry friends don't want to reveal my exact location. Partly due to that this was a female as you can see and she was pregnant. So I know they are out there and I fully intend on going after the NJ state record which is currently 8lbs 4oz. My BOWFIN was measured at 25 1/4 in and weighed in at 7lbs. This is definately my favorite fish in part because I was the talk of the anglers in my area, part because of the awesome fight she put up and last but not least its prehistoric! It doesn't get any better than that. Forget trout, forget b@$$ I'm all about the BOWFIN!

I know it's a crazy story my friend but in all honesty that how it happened. My friends and I are still in awestruck at the fact that the BOWFIN even resides in my area. Like I said though I'm all about catching more and hope to post new pics soon of another. hope you enjoy the pics and the story.
Thanks for you time, BAGman
ChuckFinnin (ChuckD), 05/08/07

April 2007, Gibbstown Floodgates

I just wanted to send a picture of a Bowfin I caught recently on a swimbait. I caught it in Repaupo, NJ which is the area near the floodgates where I caught the albino bowfin. Also great work on the site!
JohnV 04/27/07

August 2006, Hainesville

I caught a few bowfin at Hainesville, NJ last night. It was the first time I ever got them out of there. It was the first time I really got anything out of there. The weather change last night had all the fish going nuts, especially the suckers in that place. There are some nice ones in there. The Bowfins were a little on the small side, but I know those little critters were in there. It's about time some fish decided to bite in that place.
AlA, 08/11/06

January 2006, Gibbstown Floodgates

Yesterday (11/15/05)I nailed a monster! It was roughly 6lbs and was as white as a ghost. I saw him swimming right under a flooded tree line so I pitched my jig in there and Wham! - we all know what happened next. The thing is I never saw a white one before. I fish an area in NJ called the floodgates. It's relatively shallow canals, maybe 100' at it's widest, loaded to the gills with bass and crappie. These canals run out to the Delaware River. If you Google Earth and type in Gibbstown, NJ you'll see these canals run just about everywhere. The average canal depth is 2-3 ft depending on tide. It's like swamp fishing - tons of duckweed in the summer etc.
JohnV 01/09/06

April 2003, Spring Lake

JustinK and nice 22" 3lb male landed 4/22/03 at night, from Spring Lake NJ

March 2003, Spring Lake

This past weekend, on Saturday March 29, 2003, while fishing for Largemouth Bass, I caught a 24 in., 4 & 1/2 lb. female Bowfin on a live shiner. It's my third Bowfin ever & my biggest Bowfin to date. The other two were a 15 in. male & 19 in., 1.50 lb. female caught last year, while using nightcrawlers. With the wind to my back, I let my line scream for one of my best casts of the day. I was reeling in very slowly with my live shiner, then out of nowhere (whallop), she hit & my bobber took off. After I set the hook, & felt that it was the heaviest fish I've ever encountered at my neighborhood lake, I reeled in slowly & she jumped out of the water. The prehistoric fish wasn't coming in without a fight. I proceeded to reel her in, but she broke my line. I couldn't believe it; I was devastated. I could see my bobber in the water (about 20 yards away from the bank), but wasn't sure if the fish was still on at the end of my line. A few minutes went by and the bobber was not moving. Then, all of a sudden the bobber disappeared and it resurfaced a few seconds later, and me and my fishing buddy, Anthony M, knew that the fish was still hooked. Now, it seemed to be a little closer than where I had lost it. I was deciding whether or not I should swim out to the bobber, with hopes of somehow pulling the fish in. I tied another hook on, but before I could cast out, Anthony snagged his line into my broken line. He slowly pulled her in a couple of feet before handing his rod & reel over to me, so I could finish what I started. After I reeled her in close enough, Anthony netted her. I was shocked, because not only was I expecting a nice size Largemouth B@#$, but I could see a spinnerbait stuck in her mouth with the trailer hook set in her underside! I took all three hooks out, and we proceeded to measure (24 in.), weigh (4 & 1/2 lb.), and photograph her, before releasing the ancient fish back into the lake.

The tattoo was an idea I had for years and finally went through with it. I was going to get a musky added but still haven't gotten around to it yet. The tattoo is a sturgeon, the mighty bowfin, and a striper. The tattoo was done in Trenton NJ by Chris Stumpf at Timeless Tattoos
Thanks Chris H

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