It is said that Bowfin are rare in PA, but y'all are doing good considering.
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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.

May 2013, Presque Isle

Was fishing the warm shallows with a florescent orange Hypocrite spoon, when I got thumped hard. Set the hook and a massive bowfin comes straight out the water and starts tailwalking like a freakin' tarpon! I mean she is fully in the air, shaking her head and doing the demon twist...does this twice, then goes down and starts ripping drag. I'm doing everything I can to keep her up and out of the weeds and logjams, but I can't clamp that drag down too much, cuz this is a hook-bendin', swivel-snappin',line-bustin' beast.

Well, I thought I had her tired out and started working her toward the bank. As soon as her belly hit the sand...boom! See ya! Pole bent down to the water and she took half my spool... And this was her 4th run! Brought her all the way back again and this time onto shore...31.5 inches of angry, writhing 'fin. One of our PA rivals over at Conneaut Lake told me bowfin don't hit 30 inches in our state. I told him to come up to Presque Isle--our 'fins EAT 30-inchers!

Was wading the lagoons, breaking in a brand new pike rod, when something grabbed my slopmaster spinner and ran amok. This was no sluggish cold-water slimer...When that shiny bullet-head came up and plowed through the lily pads my pulse started to pound. 'Fin on! Luckily, the new rod was nice and stiff...turned her out of the pads and handled her with relative ease. For a bowfin, that is. Meaning only two insane runs and a quarter spool of line.
Managed to locate a little gap in the thick reeds and eased her in. 27 inches, pudgy, and still brawlin' on the bank. Got the hook out without losing any digits and sent her on her way.
Dan M, 05/13/13

June 2011, Lake Marburg

BAGman, Last night I caught this very nice Bowfin here at Lake Marburg - I had no idea what fish I caught, 'till I went back home and looked it up on the internet. Finaly, through my fishing group on Facebook I found out it's a bowfin! He was a tough fighter, I can tell and I was pretty happy, when I had him on shore! Sadwise then I didn't know, what fish it was, otherwise I would have returned him to water, because now I red that bowfins are "candidate species", which could achieve endangerd or threatened status in future.
Volker R, 06/22/11

April 2011, Presque Isle

BAGman, I caught this 29-inch bloated pre-spawn female while wading in Presque Isle Bay, Erie, PA on April 16.

I'm knee-deep in muddy water, casting a small spoon into the semi-submerged logs and debris of my favorite mucky corner of the bay. Suddenly I get a hit that sends shockwaves up my arm. I play it cool, letting the fish take line, but keeping the pressure on. After a while, I try to bring her up and get a look, but she won't rise. I really pressure her, but she just won't show herself. Then she gets pissed and takes off like a torpedo along the bottom, really ripping drag.

But wait. What's this? She stops her run abruptly. All is still and silent. I try to bring her up again, and again she refuses. Suddenly, my line starts coming TOWARD me. Faster and faster. I start reeling to keep some tension on, but she is CRUISING. I mean, this fish, this thing, has gone into full-on attack mode. And I am the TARGET!

I'm cranking the slack in as fast as I can, keeping the line as tight as possible, when suddenly she's upon me. I actually have to juke to the side to get out of her way. She flies right past me into shallow water and I see her big gray back for an instant before she submerges and takes off along the reed-line.

I think you know who we're dealing with here. My longtime nemesis...The Moriarty to my Holmes. Oh, yes. The prehistoric piscivore. The jurassic demon. America's toughest sportfish for 100,000,000 years. The elusive BOWFIN herself!

When that wide, ancient tail violently cuts the surface of the water, there can be no doubt. I have hooked a monster of legend.

Once subdued, the beast is strangely calm. She lays motionless on the bank, her toothy mouth gaping, daring me to stick a finger in. Luckily, I don't have to. The de-hooking is handled with ease. No snapping or clenching of the jaw on her part, just a gurgly grunt to let me know exactly how she feels about it.

After the hook is out she tries to snake off into the water, but I know that trick. I block her escape, heft her up for a pic, and gently place her on the sand. Magnificent creature, rare and full of eggs-- thousands of mischeivous little devils for me to battle in the future. Off she slithers to her murky netherworld.
Maynard G Crabs, 04/18/11

February 2009, Glendale Lake

I stumbled upon your website today while searching for bowfin information. I had never heard of one, let alone saw or caught one until this previous summer. I caught quite a few of them one day while fishing at Glendale Lake in the Prince Gallitzin State Park in Pennsylvania. One actually hit a buzzbait, while the others all took soft plastics. I caught about 8 of them that day and have never caught one since even though I frequently fish the same area I caught them. Just figured I'd drop a line after seeing your website. Good work on the site by the way.. There doesn't seem to be much info about these fish.
Robert D, 02/03/09

January 2009, Lake Somerset

Somerset Lake in Somerset, PA has some bowfin in it. I've been fishing along with people who caught them, but never got any out of there myself. The ones they pull out are around 18-20" or so.
Tim W, 01/05/09

September 2008, Geneva Swamp

Last Sunday (9/28/08) the girlfriend and I went up to Geneva Swamp in hopes of finally getting into a Bowfin. We got there in the wee hours of the morning and fished out hearts out but only landed 20 large Bluegill and Pumpkin Seeds and 5 Largemouth B@$$. We went to Pymatuning for a bit to go birdwatching then went back to the swamp.

I tied on a white Mr Twister and pitched it out. As I was reeling it in the water behind the lure was rising, much like a Pike or a Muskie does when trailing a top water lure. The it struck and the fight was on. It broke water a couple times and made 4 incredible runs before I landed it. It was 27.5 inches long and had a girth around 14 or 15 inches. I have NEVER been that weak knee'd from a fish in my life and I have caught over 35 species in PA some real whales too.

I am HOOKED beyond belief. She was returned back to the swamp safely and unharmed (except for a Mr Twister stuck in her mouth)

This was one of the best days I had afield. I caught a Bowfin, showed my g/f her first mature Bald Eagle(we saw a 2nd year bird too), Yellow Rumped Warblers, 30+ Northen Shovelers, and 2 Greater Yellowlegs. There were a gang of Wildflowers still in bloom as well but most of them were various species of Aster
Ed R, 09/30/08

July 2008, Presque Isle

I caught this bowfin on Presque Isle State Park in Erie Pennsylvania. It was out on North pier. This was only the second bowfin I have ever seen. I once saw a guy catch one on East pier on Presque Isle. It was on 8lb line. The 27in. olive colored boafin fought pretty good and it took nearly 10 minutes to get it in. I had just size 6 hooks on with a worm. I was fishing for b@$$ but hooked a gobie. The bowfin took him on the way in. That is my dad in the other picture.
SamC, 07/08/08

June 2008, Geneva Swamp

Geneva swamp bowfin.

RobertD, 06/06/08

December 2007, Edinboro Lake Dam

Hey Bagman,
My name is Brent K. My friend had told me about bowfin and how hard they are to catch, so one day I went finning with him at this dam, Mallary Run. We didn't get much that day because he told me not to use sunfish heads. Well I was going home that day and I saw another friend. We were talking and we decided to go finnin' the next day. So I gathered up 2 more friends and we went.
I was using my new Uglystik and large hooks and sunfish heads. I was lucky, for over the next 2 days I caught over 14 bowfins. The biggest about 3ft. and 20-25lbs. It was huge. I got pics but they are on my dad's cell, so this summer I'll get you some pics.
BrentK, 12/31/07

August 2006, French Creek

I have a cottage in Cochranton, PA. It is on French Creek just upstream of the spot on the map. Our location is right downstream from The Shaw's Landing Access in Cochranton. In the last 5 years we have begun to catch Bowfin. This fish was never in the waters where we are located before and it seems to be the only fish we catch anymore. They are routinely 12-30 inches long and extremely heavy. I was reading about the Bowfin because we did not recognize the fish. I read on your site you would be interested about people catching them in Connecticut, but I thought I would mention this to you as well as it might pique your interests as to another place where they are being caught in abundance. On the weekend, we might catch and release 5 - 10 bowfin a day.
RobertW, 08/24/06

June 2006, Conneaut Lake

Here is the pic you have been waiting for. These bowfin were all caught in Conneaut Lake, Pennsylvania on June 27, 2006 at the spot indicated on the your map. Most of these fins were caught from 2:00 until 3:00 in the afternoon. Pictured are AndrewP and 23 of the 30 fins that were caught by my buddy and I that day. We caught all of them on the leftovers of the yellow perch we skinned earlier that day. All the fish were released in good health unharmed. This many fins in this lake is not uncommon.
GaryW, 06/29/06

Conneaut Lake

THE BEST spot to catch bowfin in the entire state of Pennsylvania is Conneaut Lake. On an average day it is possible to catch 20-25 bowfin most over 3 pounds. Mark it on your map!
GaryW 04/08/06

May 2005, Lake Marburg

I caught my first Bowfin May 29, 2005 while bass fishing at Lake Marburg (Codourus State Park) in South Central PA. First fish I ever caught that I could not identify. Anglers at the dock knew what it was, I e-mailed this photo to several fishing buddies, and one of them turned me on to your site. I was impressed with the fight this guy put up. It took over 5 minutes to land it. I was using a 1/4 oz. jighead with a minnie, and the hook had started to straighten. Without my son on the net, I might have lost it. After a few minutes, it was on top, lying on its' side....I thought it was played out. Wrong!! - it must've been taking a nap, 'cause it woke up and sounded, bending the rod in half. Weight 6.8lbs., length 27"; girth not measured. I knew of them, but was not aware they were in our area. I will be targeting them from now on- an impressive fish.
BruceM 06/06/05


Western Pennsylvania Bowfin info: 2 very good bowfin spots in the NW PA area are Presque Isle Bay of Lake Erie and Conneaut lake. The latter is a bowl shaped natural water of around 950 acres where many summer vacationers are frightened on a regular basis by latching on to bowfin! According to waterways patrolmen,one resident reported being chased down his dock by an angry ,aggressive bowfin after landing it!! Presque Isle Bay has extensive pond and lagoon areas,shallow and weedy, which hosts big populations of both bowfin and longnose gar. Both species are tremendously underfished due to Lake Erie's popular smallmouth bass,walleyes,and salmon. Even in the lagoons,largemouth,crappies,muskie,and panfish get the attention while bowfin and gar are plainly evident throughout the many channel arms.
John M

June 2004, Tionesta Lake Spillway

I caught these fins in Tionesta, Pennsylvania in the spillway of Tionesta Lake. Bowfins are unheard of around here and the majority of the fishermen have no idea what one is or have seen one at that matter. My taxidermist really has no idea what they are. I caught 2 in 2 days and had no idea they were even around. I was fishing for muskie with shiners. Just letting people know that they're in these waters around my homestead.
Jessie K 06/23/04

April 2004, Delaware River

My name is Paul W. On March 27th, my brother-in-Law John caught his first Bowfin. At the time we did not know what it was. I look in the PA fish commission's web page, and saw it was a Bowfin. From what I understand, bowfin are 'rare' in PA. They are considered a candidate species in PA, which means you can not harvest them, and must be released immediately after catching. Well, I caught my first one. I caught mine on 4/17/04 at the same spot John caught his. I believe that mine is a different one, because it is smaller than John's. I caught it while fishing for bass on a Cinnamon Senko, Texas rigged, enhanced with Mega Strike scent. It was just as fun to land a bowfin as a bass. I wish they were more plentiful on PA. Keep up the good work!

March 2004, Delaware River

My name is John and I recently caught my first bowfin. I live and fish mostly in PA. I recently went fishing in the Delaware River and caught the bowfin in the pictures. We had spotted this fish and had no idea what it was. I caught it and lost it at the boat the first time. 1/2 hour later I caught it again and we got it in. We are used to grabbing largemouth by the lips. No way on the bowfin. Too many teeth. I've included pictures of the catch. The bowfin was returned immediately, unharmed. You can check out the report of our trip at We have all of our fishing pictures on this site. Please make sure you sign the guestbook. The bowfin was caught 3/27/04 on a 5 inch watermelon senko.

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