South Carolina

Home of the World Record! Don't get complacent South Carolina, or that title will fall for sure. 26 years? Time for another!
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.

May 2011, Monck's Corner

I just found your site and LOVE it! Well done my friend. I love to catch these fish and there is a 70 acre lake here in Moncks Corner that is just full of them. I wished I could have gotten the whole fish in the picture, but I was fishing alone this day and took the photo myself. (not the best angle as it only shows the top half of the fish) I always catch and release these guys. This is one of the bigger ones, but by no means the biggest I have caught. If I knew about the State record, I would have started measuring them sooner! I have a feeling I might break it soon! Take care my friend, and good luck out there...
JeffK 05/08/11

April 2011, Lake Moultrie

I Had a nice day fishing a soft plastic swimbait around the shallow weedy flats of Lake Moultrie today. While trolling around in the shallows I spotted an enormous bowfin cruising around just outside of a patch of thick vegetation and I knew I had not yet been spotted... not easy to do, the bowfin almost always catch me first but this time I had a shot. I casted the swim bait just past the bowfin so as to bring it past his face, but out of NOWHERE this fiesty little largemouth shot over and snatched the lure away from the approaching bowfin! I was furious!!!! It was still a nice little bass, but I was afraid the thrashing of the bass would scare the bowfin off. I put the bass in the boat as quickly as I could and tossed it in the livewell knowing that I could possibly land the bowfin too and get some good double photos. I got the lure back out to the bowfin which really had not moved, and the fish approached... from such a large fish, I was kindof afraid of the bite I might get, but it was suprisingly casual in its assault. The bowfin slowly approached and with a quick gulp the lure disappeared entirely into its massive mouth. I set the hook, and the fish scarcely even responded, until it was near the boat and all hell broke loose. The fish rocketed out of the water and just caused all kinds of chaos. There just nothing better than the war a large bowfin will put up it was an oustanding battle. The fish completely annihilated my landing net too... it ripped a gaping hole in the bottom of it.
David G, 04/25/11

April 2011, Goose Creek

I caught these fish today in the Goose Creek Reservoir. The narrow channel which flows into the reservoir at the north end is narrow, but very deep... and has a ton of longnose gar, and plenty of bowfin sit along the weedy shoreline.
David G, 04/15/11

April 2011, Saluda River

I was guiding a father and son fishing the Saluda River in SC back in early July of 2010 when I caught this fish. It was the end of the day and I had asked my clients if they minded me taking one last cast at a hole that normally produces smallmouth bass. When the fish hit its head came thrashing through the surface and in the low light all I could see was that it was tan/brown so I thought I had a record smallmouth. When we realized what it was I handed the rod to the boy to let him pull it in.

The fish measured 30'' long and hit a #4 chartreuse clouser minnow on 8 lb. test tippet - it must have been hooked just right. It's amazing the teeth didn't slice right through the line when it hit. It wasn't until after posting this picture online that someone alerted me to the fact that the fish could have been a fly rod record. I'm looking at the length to weight tables right now after looking up the current fly rod records and I realize it is possible. Of course passing the rod to my client would have invalidated that anyway. The fish was released unharmed after my photo op.
Michael Frank, 04/07/11
Owner and Lead Guide
Frank's Fly Arts

November 2010, Forest Lake

You have the world record set at Forest Lake in Columbia, SC. In Columbia, Forest Lake is a small community with a tiny lake. I live near it. The world record was caught in Forest Lake in Florence, SC, a medium sized lake that is now a country club. You can check IGFA record websites or books for verification.
Nathan M, 11/02/10

Mea culpa! It's only been 7 years that I've had it wrong.

July 2010, Lake Moultrie

I caught this fin in Lake Moultrie SC today using a buzz bait that I allowed to sink just below the surface. He weighs 3.1 lbs.
Anna H, 07/06/10

June 2008, Lake Murray

I think South Carolina is underestimated in our bowfin abundance. SC has a lot of bowfin. I know for a fact in Lake Murray they are plentiful. One night about a year ago a friend and I caught about 100 bowfin in one night! Granted, they were only about 2 inches long and still in the swarm just after hatching (they were returned back out of the net just after being caught), but I have seen many in Lake Murray, and just last night I missed about a 6 pounder. If you want to see and catch fins come to Lake Murray. They're here.
Happy Finnin
Andrew M, 06/10/08

November 2007, Myrtle Beach

Hiya Bagman,

Here's another one of those first time stories. Having been fishing as long as I could hold that first Zebco 202 I've caught a lot of different freshwater fish and quite a few saltwater fishing in the surf. It's been about 10 years since I had done any serious fishing but recently I got my wife into camping and we have been spending alot of time at Ocean Lakes campground in Myrtle Beach. They have several large ponds and certain parts are brackish,anyhow, I haven't had much luck until the morning of 10/27. Using a small Rebel minnow I was catching 7 to 9 inch bluegill,little monsters, I figured if they were hitting this then a rooster tail would drive them nuts. The campground store didn't have any rooster tails but had something I thought might work {yellow and white feathers with a trailing treble and a single hook meduim sized bullet weight with a willow). The brim didn't like it but the b@$$ were tearing it up.
Got up the next morning about 830(check out is 1100) to get a little bit more in. Caught a few small b@$$ and then this HUGE b@$$ I thought. The dangdest thing I had ever caught, it fought like a gorilla, but I finally got it landed and was so excited, I reached to grab its lip and thought twice...teeth...what the... I grabbed the thing by the gills and took off for the camper to show the wife and kids. Was stopped by one of the security guys saying..nice cat...I said no, he said yeah. I said no, it has teeth and no spines. He didn't have a clue at first. After about an hour he came by and said he thought it was a Bowfin. OMG!! After reading all the stories you have here I'm hooked too. What a fighter and not a bad looking fish. I have always enjoyed catfishing but I think I have somthing new here. Keep up the great work and info.
Jamie F, Rock Hill SC, 11/05/07

May 2006, Loc'n Unknown

First of all I've been intentionally fishing for this great species since 1973, originally in Florence, SC. Incidentally the World Record Bowfin was actually caught there in a swampy lake area just outside of Florence called Forest Lake. It's a country club now.

Yep, I've caught some big ones and lots very near record size from the exact same fishing hole and many others. I even use fly fishing gear for them just for the fun of it. Now I fish for them all over the place. I've grown up a bit since then and can now drive a car instead of having to use a bicycle to cruise across the golf courses. Personally, I feel it's a highly overlooked sport fish that fights like heck. Generally we don't eat them. Many used to think of tarpon and bonefish as trash fish, so what is so bad about the voracious bowfin?

I have lots of tales and many swampy spots. Both are meant to misdirect you from my favorite Bowfin areas. For the moment I'll leave you with a pic of one caught just last week, a little one. And I'm still chasing records after 30 years.
Tersh, 05/19/06

August 2005, Waccamaw River

I caught this in the Waccamaw River in Myrtle Beach SC. I had no idea what it was at first. I am fairly new to fishing the area it was not until the next day that I thought about bowfin. I got to thinking that the fish may be a bowfin; I had seen pictures of them before, a long time ago. Checked on the net, found your site and sure enough I had caught a bowfin. I caught this one on a nightcrawler on the bottom in about 10ft of water. Thanks for the bowfin information. I will be attempting to target these more in the future now. I had a wonderful time catching huge longnose gar in my former living area while everyone scoffed at me. Hey I don't keep and eat fish anyway, I'm just looking for something to tug on my line, I don't care what it is.
Ben P 08/15/05

SC Fin Turns the Tables

A little story about my latest bowfin experience from back in January and it doesn't involve a hook or line. A friend and I were down in Jasper county doing a fish survey for a consultant in some swamps they want to protect for a nature trail. We had stopped by one of our regular sites to get a baseline on what was out at this time of year. The previous May, we had been chased out of this site by a 10ft gator (they look alot bigger when you're chest deep in the water than from a boat). Anyway, we were seining around the same spot as the gator had been but since it was in the mid 30's we weren't to concerned. Suddenly Dustin's eyes get really big and he says "something hit me in the leg...HARD!" I kinds think to myself "yeah right....chicken" when I get nailed in my legs, three times! I see a wake cut across in front of the seine and holler (in a high-pitched girly voice) "lift the seine, lift the seine!" When we lifted it, there was a brightly colored male bowfin about 20" in length. Knowing Riverbanks Zoo wanted one to display in their tank, we took it back to them and it's now happily swimming around one of their tanks along with a couple of longnose gar, a large bluecat and several species of sunfish.

I had heard that male bowfin will protect their nest but would never have believed they would go after humans and I've got bite marks in my waders to prove it.
Chip in SC

March 2005, Lake Moultrie

I caught my first bowfin of the 2005 season and it was my first fish of spring! Just like last year, only too bad this one is about 11 lbs smaller than that beast from last year. Oh well, it's a bowfin and I'm happy! I caught it on a maroon ribbon-tailed Texas-rigged worm, about 55 degree water, 70 degree air temp, at the duck pond flats of Lake Moultrie, SC. This catch was about 50 yards from where I caught the monster of last year! Lookin forward to a more productive year.
DavidG 03/26/05

July 2004, Santee Cooper

Here is the big bruiser I caught today on frozen shrimp! This tank took me to hell and back... especially when I boated it, typical!!! 31 inches, just over 11 lbs. I'll be hitting this spot more often and maybe the intervals between each bowfin won't be by multiple months! I've caught a lot of personal trophys but bowfin always seems to outdo them all!
David G 07/16/04

Caught a bowfin on the lambo today... also had a gar with half a snout (broken) try to take on the lambo but didn't stay on. This one was around 26 inches or so... only one caught.
David G 07/20/04

Waccamaw River

I'm a retired Firefighter from Ct. I moved to SC and was fishing the Waccamaw River. I was fishing for crappies but a thunderstorm was coming so before I left I just want to see if a Rapala would do anything. I'm still learning the river and what it has to offer. This fin hit it very hard and was a good fight.

March 2004, Santee Cooper

I promised you I would be back to grace the covers again and I kept my word. I caught my first Carolina FIN, baby!!! But it wasn't just any fin, Try 30 inches and 12.2 lbs of pregnant female for a first in nearly a year, halfway across the country! I was fishing a spot I'd read about that bowfisherman often go on the Santee. I decided it was worth paddling out to. The paddle was nearly 25 minutes just to get there but obviously worth while. When I reached my destination I immediately saw more massive grass carp than I can count, and eventually gar began to cross the front of the boat. All the time I had been working a plastic floating frog across lilies, but after seeing 3 gar run by my boat I decided to sit down and fish some shiners since I had spent more than half the day without coaxing a fish up to the surface frog. Immediately I missed a fish, and I figured that was probably the last bite I'll get. I watched the water and saw a gar surface just beyond casting distance but I tried anyway. As soon as the shiner was in the water something nibbled once... twice... a third time and a run, I set the hook expecting a gar to leap out of the air but no... something was pulling me down, HARD. I figured man this is too powerful for a bass... and doesn't quite feel like a striper, after the thought ran through my head... bowfin... It jumped and nosed dived into a patch of weeds but while in the air I caught glimpse of the big brown head and a white chin and screamed out BOWFIN!!! It's not normal for me to scream out and began a nervous shake, it's special occasions and big fish this happens on, anyway the massive female bowfin rocketed towards me as I struggled to reel in the slackening line. I whiffed when I tried to net her several times just anticipating the line to loosen and an empty hook to emerge. Finally I thrust the net upon her and it was over. I fell back into the boat and just yelled! I had finally done what I have been trying to do since I first moved here!
Water temp: around 55 to 60
Air temp: 78
Wind: 5 mph
Depth: 5 feet
Check out the shirt I'm sporting! Get yours!

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