Why is it when I visit Wisconsin I think of Brady Bunch reruns? Musky, Musky, Musky! Marsha, Marsha, Marsha! Expand your repertoire, Wiconsin, and send those Bowfin 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.

July 2011, Upper St. Croix Lake

We had no idea what this was when I finally landed it! We had to inquire once we got to shore. After a couple of pictures and weighting it we let if go. I had never even heard of a bowfin until today. What great fun it was to land. 26" and about 9 pounds caught on Upper St. Croix Lake in Solon Springs, Wisconsin. Caught on a leach with a pink plastic worm.
RobynD, 07/30/11

July 2011, Lipsett Lake

A frog lure, a kayak, and a big fin equals heart-pounding excitement! Watch the video!
Jon H, 07/14/11

July 2011, Lake Mendota

I caught this beauty with a surface lure on the Yahara River chain in Dane County, (7/9/2011.) It was my first bowfin ever and he put up a nice fight on my b@$$ gear. The fish was safely released!
Rob H, 07/11/11

June 2011, Lake Koshkonong

I have been catching Bowfin often for years spring and summer Ft.Atkinson south side of lake Koshkonong off the mounds..most recent Sunday 6-26-11 4pm. This one came fairly quietly compared to most..it was released.
Paul C, 06/27/11

June 2011, Mississippi R near Fountain City

I caught this fin on the Mississippi river by Merrick State Park by Fountain City, WI. Just trolling for walleyes. It was 23" long and I released it back into the water.
Steve O, 06/18/11

April 2011, Lake Mendota

I caught this bad boy on Lake Mendota, April 13th 2011, with an 8 weight fly rod and 6lb line. It measures in at 30.5" and 10lbs. The spot was right off of the Captain Bill's launch at the inlet to Pheasant Branch Creek.
LouR, 04/15/11

October 2010, Loc'n Unknown

I caught a bowfin while b@$$ fishing. Extremely great fight. Thought you might want a pic. It was 32". Caught and released in Central WI. This is the 1st one I've caught. I caught it on a jig and crayfish b@$$ fishing. Almost bent the hook in half. It was 32 inches and it measured 11 lbs on that old handheld scale you see in the photo. It wasn't until after I released the thing I looked up info on it and found out that if I had an accurate scale I probably would have had the WI record which is only 31.6. The second Bowfin I caught the same day. This one I didn't measure but I figured around 28" Either way it was 2 awesome fights within 30 minutes!
James K, 10/18/10

June 2010, Loc'n Unknown

I caught a fish near Tomahawk Wisconsin this morning that I believe is a bowfin. It seems to match the descriptions on your website (catfish shaped head, long dorsal fin, etc). I've never caught one before, but see that our DNR did find some in this lake during a recent survey. I've attached a photo (which is not great quality). I think tail fin shape in the photo is due to it being torn by my net. Can you confrim from the photo whether it was a bowfin? I released it without measuring or weighing, but would guess it 32"-36". Is that a good size for a Bowfin?
DaleD, 07/01/10

July 2009, Menominee River

This is my first bowfin that I caught this past weekend on the Menominee River in Wisconsin. I found your website trying to figure out what it was. I caught it on a white 3/8 ounce jig head with a white Mr. Twister Tail. It was one heck of a fight and bent my hook but I got it netted. I released the fish, but I did not measure or weigh the fish. I was more concerned on keeping it alive! But I have this picture and I am more educated on this fish for next time! I know it wasn't our state record which I guess is 31 1/2 inches and 13 lbs. I guess this fish at between 24 -27 inches and 7 to 9 lbs. I should have measured it and weighed it :)
De Wayne B, 07/21/09

June 2009, Petenwell Flowage

My buddy and I were fishing at the boat landing below the Petenwell dam, by the overpass. We were fishing for channel cats, and I ended up with a dogfish ( gotta love the irony). Initially I didn't know what the fish was until I talked to another fisherman the next day, and he told me to google bowfin or dogfish. I looked up Bowfin and dogfish on the internet, and sure enough there was my fish. It was roughly over 20 inches long, and weighed close to, or a little over, 10 pounds, but it fought like it was 100 pounds. It also had an attitude of a pitbull and rotweiler put together. It was fun bringing it in. Took a look at it and released it. Best day fishing I've had yet.
Dale A, 06/02/09

May 2009, Minong Flowage

I was out fishing in Wisconsin around noon on the 23rd of May and hooked into this monster. Of course, after the adrenaline wore off I had released it without getting a proper measurment. I tried to guestimate from my pictures and came up with around 30-31 in. Any idea how I can tell based on the pictures to get a good weight on this guy? It has to be close to the state record of 13.1 lbs. I'm about 6'1 and 205 lbs if that helps. I'm really bummed that I didn't measure it! I always measure a nice catch like that. Compared to a lot of pictures on your site the one I caught had an incredible girth on her, I couldn't even get my hand around her back.
I caught this guy on Minong Flowage. My family and are avid fisherman and have fished this lake for 10 years now and no one has ever caught, seen, or even heard of bowfin in the lake. I even looked at the most recent species count for the lake and no evidence of the bowfin was ever recorded.....It's like he is the only one in there. Thanks,
Joe G, 05/26/09

May 2009, Big Chetac Lake

I cannot believe there is a website devoted to dogfish but to each their own LOL! I have caught many, many dogfish over the years. When I was a kid my grandparents had a cabin on Washburn Lake, north of Outing, MN. I caught dogfish on anything from a scrap of worm under a bobber in 2 1/2' of water to casting daredevils and trolling minnows behind a Mepp's spinner. On the worms they would really catch you by surprise and sometimes get you all wrapped up in the lily pads.

I have also been fortunate enough to live on several lakes in northwest Wisconsin. The most recent of those is Big Chetac (Sawyer County), known to the locals as a great walleye and panfish lake. There is a little bit of everything on it, just a little north and east of Birchwood. Big Chetac is actually where the Red Cedar River starts! Anyway, I have probably caught 12 to 15 dogfish there, most of them off the dock. I'd say most of those were caught on a 1/16 oz. jig (Northland Firefly) tipped with a fathead minnow. This combination is deadly for anything that swims, especially post spawn fish that are feeding heavily. The dogfish associate with spawning fish and are notorious egg eaters. We have put down an underwater camera and witnessed this firsthand.

If you know of a lake with healthy populations of big bowfins, and Big Chetac definitely fills the bill in that department, concentrate on where fish are spawning. They are fun to catch but I got to where I could tell within a few seconds of having one on that it was indeed a dogfish. They generally do not make big runs but thrash their head back and forth furiously until they are caught and released. Even in the boat, on the dock or on shore they will thrash back and forth. It can be tough trying to get the hook out and I'm sure I'm not the only person to sacrifice a hook or jig to one of these prehistoric beasts. I'm no expert but I'd guess I have caught somewhere between 20 and 30 bowfins in my life, I'm 41 and have been fishing hard since I was 3. I lived on Big Chetac from 2001 to 2004 but still go back there every year.

v The last bowfin I caught there was in 2007, casting up towards my old dock while fishing from a friend's boat. I had my 5' light action rod and 4 lb. line casting one of those little jigs with a minnow. Wham, it hit about 6' from the dock and I knew right away what I had. We were fishing walleye but it was so much fun fighting it, it put a big smile on my face. The bay where I had my dock and where I did most of my fishing is more to the north on the east side. There is a big powerline that crosses the bay right where the dock sits. The locals refer to it as Bussey bay, named after the guy that used to own all the land around it. Some people call it Rooster Bay as one property owner has some noisy fowl. Now I live just north of Lincoln Lake (Washburn County) and occasionally fish that for bass and panfish. About 3 years ago I took my brother out there when he was visiting from South Dakota. He caught about a 7 or 8 lb. dogfish on a crappie minnow under a bobber. He wouldn't even touch it and I gave him crap as I laughed at him and released it. We were straight south of the boat landing and to the east, along the edge of the weeds. I'd say the biggest one I have caught is somewhere around 11 or maybe 12 lbs. but the smallest was still at least 4 1/2 or 5 lbs. They truly are the perfect omnivores of the underwater world, eating whatever is available at that particular time.

Steve S, Trego, WI, 05/15/09

May 2009, Buffalo Lake

I thought I had a huge Northern on the line, as Buffalo is full of them. I fought this guy for a little while and brought him in. I had no idea what kind of fish it was, but I figured it was a Dogfish due to it's teeth and the fact that I've never caught a fish like this before. After I let this go, it kept coming up to the surface, sticking its head out, seemingly to stare at me. After a little research, I learned that it could actually breathe air. and now with your website, I've learned more about this interesting fish. Hopefully I'll catch another! Caught on a worm.
Jon A, Alsip, IL, 05/08/09

October 2008, Black River at LaCrosse

We have been fishing the Black River at LaCrosse for a long time in early October trips. We catch close to a dozen species in a four-day trip every year but I never saw a bowfin before. On October 6, 2008 on the west side of the river about a half mile South of the I-90 bridge I caught a bowfin we estimated at 7 pounds and 24 inches. It was as big a fight as I got from a Northern that was 18 pounds and 36 inches. When I saw the dorsal fin and the large dark spot at the top base of the tail I knew for sure what it was. Amazing battle on 6lb test spinning rod with a ½ oz lure.

We go for white bass on this stretch of river but we also get Northern, smallmouth, largemouth, yellow b@$$ (rare), crappie, bluegill, channel cats, sheephead, perch, walleye, and sauger. All on jigs or blades. We can add bowfin to the list now. It looks like this might be a river catch in Wisconsin closer to the Mississippi than the ones on your map so I thought I would check it in.
John B, Villa Park, IL, 10/13/08

October 2008, Lake Mohawksin

I thought I would pass along these pics from a trip to Wisconsin last week. Unfortunately, I did not realize that your organization existed, so we did not properly document the fish. My guess would be in the 10-12 pound range and right at 30 inches, but the fun part of the story is I caught it on a pinky jig with no leader on a 5 foot Ugly Stick with a Shakespeare ultralight spinning reel with 4 lb test! What a fight! We were catching perch left and right when this thing struck a 1.5 inch crappie minnow. The fish was caught on Lake Mohawksin in Tomahawk Wisconsin last Sunday October 5th.
Roger J, Nashville, TN, 10/09/08

August 2008, Lake Puckaway

I thought you guys might like this one, caught on Lake Puckaway in central Wisconsin. We had a crappy, crappy scale that read between ten and eleven pounds. I didn't realize when I was out that the WI record was 13 pounds, I thought it was closer to 17 or 18. I would of been more diligent about getting proper weights and measures if I would have known!
Chris C, 08/23/08

July 2008, Long Lake

I was fishing Long Lake in Washburn County Wisconsin (between Rice Lake and Hayward) with my kid's rod and a small jig when I hauled in this 26" Bowfin. I had a bobber floating 5 feet from the boat and couldn't believe the fight I had. Truly an exciting fish to catch, the fight made the largemouths seem absolutely lazy by comparison! My father-in-law caught a smaller Dogfish the next day from the same lake off the dock. He told the family it was growling at him.
Luke G, 07/20/08

July 2008, Green Lake

Just found your site today, after landing a nice sized fin on Green Lake in Elkhorn, WI. Green Lake is one of three interconnected lakes often referred to as the Lauderdale Lakes. The other two lakes are Mill and Middle lakes. I first caught a bowfin three years ago off the end of my pier on a big 9" sucker. It ended up being 26" an just under 8 lbs. I had never seen one at the time, and did a little research on the net to figure out what it was. I then found out that my catch wasn't too far off the state record at the time (from what i recall). I went out the next morning and landed a 25" and a 13" fin. I had left my bail open for the 25" and did not notice when it started pulling out line. It was out almost 150 yards by the time I started pulling it in. It was quite the entertaining fight. Today I landed my first one in three years, quite a horrible drought, and it was 27" and just over 8 lbs. I have landed some nice northern out of this lake, but it seems that the largest and most aggressive predatory fish here are gar and bowfin. It is good to be back and catching them again. Just figured I would drop you an email and add a location to your map. I will send pictures when I get them off my camera.
Scuba Steve(Steve E), 07/06/08

June 2008, Cranberry Marshes, Warrens

I've seen bowfin and caught them in several locations in Monroe County, Wisconsin. Most recently was in Warrens. The cranberry marshes are haunted by these fish.
Lee S, 06/30/08

June 2008, Half-Moon Lake

My husband and I were out at Half-Moon Lake in Eau Claire, WI and we were kind of off in the back waters bobber fishing. Something jumped out of the water right next to the shore where I was standing! And of course, I freak out, not knowing what it was that had made such a big splash. Then after a little bit, the mud settled and I saw this huge fish looking through the water at me. I yelled for Alex (my husband) to come over and see this thing! We had no idea what it was and thought at first it was an eelpout. So we started to try and catch it. Alex dangled a worm in front of it and he took it! He started to reel it in and almost had it to shore and he got off the line. So we tried again, mind you, he was only about a foot away from the shore the second time and so when he got on the line again Alex flung him up on land, not wanting to loose him again. He was only 20" but we didn't weight him. We had never seen anything like it and took several pictures to show family. Everyone we talked to said that it was a dogfish, so we came home and looked it up and found your site! We definitly have learned a lot and are excited to go back out and hopefully catch some more!!! :)
-Hannah A, 06/02/08
PS- As soon as I get the pictures uploaded on the computer, I will definitly send them to you!!!

May 2008, Bashaw Lake

Last week, my dad caught this bowfin in Bashaw Lake. We didn't weigh the fish, but it put a smile on my dad's face. Bashaw Lake is just southeast of Hertel, WI.
Chris S, 05/29/08

September 2007, Wisconsin R, Rhinelander

I was fishing on the Wisconsin river behind the paper mill dam in Rhinelander, WI. The river is a muskellunge (musky) hotbed, and I have yet to catch one (I'm 19 and only get up there once every three years or so.) After having 3 muskies lunge at, miss or spit out my bait during the week I was there, I got extremely frustrated, but kept on fishing. I made a cast that I knew was only going to get me weeds, and, lo and behold, my line starts running away from the boat. It took me 10 minutes to get him out of the weeds, and I thought I had a big pike or a decent musky. Nope. I didn't know what it was. I stopped at an older couple's dock on the way home and they had no idea what it was. I stopped at another gentleman's dock, who later I found out was a rather prolific musky fisherman, and he enlightened me to the term dogfish. It was one heck of a fight, but I really wish it would have been a musky. I didn't end up getting a musky, but the 11 lb 33 in dogdish really put up a fight. Stephen R, 09/16/07

June 2007, Buffalo Lake

Hi Chuck,
After last summer I had about given up! With the changed lake levels and weed lines I never did get back in the groove. I got this gal this morning( cloudy and just before a thunderstorm) at about 8:00. she was 30" but only about 8 lbs. She hit on a 4" 'gill in the usual place on the weed line. It has been a bit slow this spring on old Buffalo but things are looking up. I hope I have a few photos to send this summer too!
Keep on finnin!
Bob E., 06/04/07

May 2007, Lake Nokomis, Oneida Co.

I caught this fish while going for walleye in northern Wisconsin (Lake Nokomis in Oneida County) and didn't get any measurements of it. Just wondering if you could give me a guess on the length and weight. I never done this and have know idea how to. I really didn't think it was big for the kind of fish, never caught one before. 5'6" ultra light rod, 6lb test, 1/16 oz jig.
Jarrod G, WI 05/31/07

I'm no expert, but I scale it at 30", around 9 pounds. A good fin for northern WI.

May 2007, Lipsett Lake

My boys were just asking me again about the great fish I caught in 1994! I wasn't really sure what it was and had some trouble through the years of identifying it. Definitely a bowfin. I was on my pier on Lipsett Lake near Spooner, WI and saw something thrashing around in a weed line that's in about 8' to 10' feet of water. I put on a number 2 Mepps and started casting in its direction and BOOM! it hit, it fought, it ran. I eventually brought it in and had no idea what it was. I described it to people as a prehistoric looking fish with big teeth. It completely destroyed my Mepps.
Thanks for having the web site, I'll check in once in a while, hopefully with another story of a catch.
Joel W, WI 05/14/07

March 2007, Lake Minocqua

This is a bowfin which I caught at beautiful Lake Minocqua in Northern Wisconsin. This big boy was caught in the early evening hours in July 2006. I caught it off the dock at Carol and Al's wonderful summer home on the lake. It jumped out of the water and into the air with great drama and flair. I certainly was not expecting a large bowfin. Once you've caught a bowfin, everything else seems new age.
Bill W, WI 03/26/07

August 2006, Yellow Lake

Hi there, I enjoy your website. I am attaching a pic of a nice Bowfin taken on a bucktail while musky fishing. I'm also attaching a couple of nice pics for the Incidental page.
Mike C, WI 08/30/06

July 2006, Wisconsin R (Lone Rock)

Hiya. Thought to myself, why not make a video. These guys are so predictable in this drainage pool, I'll cast some bluegill meat out there, wait for that first little line jerk to signify he's workin with the bait then start recording the show. What came out is sufficient. I'd like to get a better camera for this so it turns out better but so far this works. I'll probably make another with the camera operator at a different angle and hopefully fighting a larger bowfin cause there are larger ones in this area.
I was pulling him in on a Shakespeare Custom, not an Ugly Stick though. It's the 30 dollar reel/pole combo job they sell at Wally World. That said I have since picked up some $15 65lb braided super line from whichever company. It's the most expensive stuff they had at Wally World. I also picked up the most expensive baitcasting reel they have too. This stuff will come in and hold me over until I really figure out where I fish the most, and my styles and what not. If I need online fishing hardware, so be it. In any event, I do not know the LB test of this mono line that came with the Shakespeare Custom, but it did pull in the 27" beast from the other day.
I would like to make another video of me fighting one a bit larger and I'll try to keep him near the surface so I get a lot of that topwater thrashing on film. If I'm REALLY lucky, maybe I can get a couple 15 foot underwater barrel runs combined with some nice topwater thrashing in the same fight video!
I was using a chunk of bluegill meat around 1" square. To be honest, the spot you see me casting to in this video, I could keep it up all day long. I eventually leave that corner alone cause you'll cast there, then 2 minutes later, boom, another one. While standing up on an elevated vantage point I could see 3 congregating around each other. This time a year, are they spawning or something? Most all the ones I pull out have the turquoise mouth and there's tons of them in this area around each other all the time and I think they're more of a solitary fish?
- BenH, 07/31/06

July 2006, Wisconsin R (Lone Rock)

Well, got another one, heh! Drainage pools for the wetland marsh basically. 27 inches long, pretty good mass to him, even for that length. You'd estimate 5-6 lbs maybe? Dunno, he fought good but not long. This area is pretty cramped as you might be able to tell from the photos.
This is actually located in the town limits of Lone Rock. I'm basically catching all my interesting fish in that town as that one single tiny town has like 3 different styles of water; wetland marsh, drainage pools, severe backwaters(shallow and weedy yet accessible), average backwaters(small and shallow rivers), then just easy typical access to the WI River. I forsee fishing frequently here. And hey, it's 5 miles from home and all accessible by foot/car.
- BenH, 07/09/06

By the Weight Table, she's pushing 7 pounds.

July 2006, Buffalo Lake

Hi Chuck,
I have been busy and not able to fish as much as I'd like and the fishing has been a bit weird. I don't know if it has been the weather or what but things have been up and down a whole bunch. And, I have been a bit off my timing and have missed several I should have caught. The "incidental" pix is what happens when day and night shift overlap. One catch is a nice doggie and the next a nice channel ..both about 6 lbs. The second "pair" one in the morning and the other at noon ...I couldn't catch any more that day. All I got were misses and very chewed up minnows. The two are again about 6 lbs (one 6 and the other a bit more). I can't seem to find the big ones(or hook them if I do). If you give me enough time I'll find some good excuses. I have, however, got my neighbor kids interested and one of them got an 8 pounder..one very tickled boy for sure!
Keep on finnin!
Bob E., 07/06/06

June 2006, Wisconsin R (Lone Rock)

These bowfin are being caught on the stretch of the Wisconsin River from approximately Orion/Muscoda to Lone Rock/Spring Green. I would say the hot spot is the back waters areas around Lone Rock, those little offshoots from the main portion of the WI river channel where one or two land masses might separate this huddle of water from the main channel. These are still being caught in completely free flowing waters directly connected to the Wisconsin River.

They were favoring me late afternoon to night. Around 10:15-10:30 we had our last wrestling match with either him or something similar to him. He got away near bank. We wrestled a good 5 or so fish this size, all on medium to baby bluegills. Just hooked them through the mouth and threw them into the deeper portion of water that was still right beside some cover like a downed tree. Sure enough after a few minutes the pole would start tugging and the line would start walking. You guys are right, they do put up a fight and they LOVE to swim closer to structure and banks when they feel you testing their grip (don't want to yank the bait out of their mouth until you're sure they took it). This one we finally landed. 2 feet long, 4 pounds. He/she has the florescent/turquoise mouth and no dot on the back fin and is a little bigger than the previous one I sent(just yesterday I think). He might be a tad longer but the difference is girth. This one simply has more mass.

I'll submit what I can as I think I may have found a honey hole. I heard some people talking back and forth, "Hey, there's a couple pike babies right here. They're probably spawning by this small dam." So, if I land any of these Bowfins mixed in with the other active predators, I'll send the pics and details.

- BenH, 06/27/06

I caught this bowfin in a small back-river section. It's basically an offshoot of the Wisconsin River. It has current, but slow moving due to a man-made rock dam nearby. I was fishing the cover in a line of downed trees. There's a nice little spot along this tucked away weedy bank area that you can still safely walk through (small paths). There is a tree in the water every 20 feet or so for a quantity of 5 trees or so. So, I alternate back and forth with night crawlers catching B@$$, Bluegill and this Bowfin. I'll toss in a small bluegill for those interesting moments too...had some bites and did some fighting but yet to land that beast. Either way, I toss my crawler out and felt a bluegill style bite but no takers. So I pulled the crawler in a few feet and because of that I could see the crawler faintly. I seen the suspected bluegill move in to eye the worm but then this larger fish just strolled right in, looked at the crawler, started mouthing for air in the shallows then took the worm. I sunk the hook and that was the fastest land for an approximate 2 foot fish I've ever had! The 12" b@$$ I've caught out of this area twice now put up more of a fight.

Have you read the Journal of Lewis and Clark? After their first encounter with a grizzly, killed with one round, they said "They're not as tough as the stories make them out to be." Their second encounter? 15 rounds in the bear, a man nearly killed, and a much better understanding of grizzlies.

Either way, enjoy the fish photo. I figure I'd send it to you as I'm picking up fishing since childhood. Only been at it intelligently for a few weeks now and have had my share of lucky days that's for sure! The spot I pulled this bowfin out of seems to be my honey hole. Where there are active bluegills there seems to be, as I've proven, predators. Not even trying, I've yanked 15 various fish off this bank in around 2 hours before. As you can tell I have no measurement on this fish or weight. At first I naively thought it was a muskie (there are active pikes in this section of the river), but then thought it was a burbot. Your site and a fellow angler helped me to realize it's a bowfin. Thanks for the site, have fun!
- BenH, 06/26/06

Paint a stripe every six inches along your fishing rod and you can always get a quick measure.

Ice Fishing Surprise

I was talking with one of the local guys who ice fishes Buffalo( not for 'fins, of course). As you know, doggies will poke their snout out for a breath of air on occasion when oxy levels are low or sometimes ,I think, just for the heck of it. It seems that the "lawyers" will do this in winter as well, and a handy hole in the ice is a great place to do it. You guessed it! More than one ice fisherman has been given a good scare, I guess, when a big 'fin stuck his snout through the hole and barked. It seems that at least one young occupant of a fish house left in a hurry yelling about a "monster" coming through the ice, much to the detriment of the poles, minnows and occupants in the house.
My first fin barked and then bit me as I tried to "lip" it. It was early morning and I thought for sure I had a Bass. What I had was a mad 'fin, a bleeding finger and a very amused father. He about fell out of the boat laughing. I, of course, have been hooked ever since.
I love 'fin stories!
BobE, 06/23/6

June 2006, Buffalo Lake

Hi Bagman,
Summer is almost here and the activity is moving out into the lake and off the last of the nests. These two males have lost most of the 'Bowfin Blue' on their tongues and are lighter for their length than they would be at the end of summer. Now I have to start hunting this years hotspots on old Buffalo.
Good 'finnin
Bob E, 06/21/06

Hi Bagman,
After wandering around the site, I have a better idea of what's needed for a good posting. Please excuse the first pix as it was taken on a lousy evening with a cheap camera. I fish Buffalo Lake, Wisconsin, which is 2200 acres of shallow weedy warm water that is full of fish. The primary baitfish for doggies(Bowfins) are the incredible number of bluegills and carp minnows. In the spring the activity is in two or three feet of water right in the heavy weeds. Difficult to fish but rewarding in the early evening and early morning hours. A 4" gill minnow in the weeds is usually the most productive. Later in the year, trolling (yes, Buffalo is one of the very few lakes in Wisconsin where trolling is legal) a large spinner on the weed breaks, along the cuts where the weeds have been mown and along the river channel in the evenings is my best bet.
The small dog in the pix loves to bite the doggies as I bring them out, Sushi on the hoof I guess. The average take here is from 24 to 30 inches and 6 to 10 pounds. There are some much bigger, though not like our friends down south. Thanks for your work on the site, I really enjoy it and will be a regular visitor and I hope a contributor (if the catching is good!)
Bob E, 06/11/06

Hi Bagman,
Bowfins?? They are dogfish here in Wisconsin. Who knew?? I thought I was the only one dedicated to big doggies. Especially here in Wisconsin. I happen to live on a lake full of fighting , nasty tempered and great fun to catch doggies. I'll bet I'm the only one on the lake who fishes specifically for them. I prefer 4 or 5 inch bluegills as bait although when I can I use a large "Northern" spinner. I usually take them from 7PM to sundown this time of year. After dark I fish Channel cats...sacrilege???
The fin in the picture was about 17 lbs but only about 32" long. He was about the fattest one I've ever caught. Even the 7 to 8 pounders I normally catch put up a heckuva fight though. I'll be checking the site regularly now that I have found it.
What fun!
Bob E, 06/10/06

May 2006, Rock & Fox Rivers

Hey, I'm glad I found this site. I was wondering who kept those fish; I always put them back. After talking to a fellow fisherman on the Rock River in Fort Atkinson WI about the days catch, he told me he caught a couple of walleyes, two carp and a dogfish. No big deal, I must have (and I'm not kidding) caught a hundred of them while fishing for walleyes there. That should be no surprise because they eat the same things. Anyway, what bothered me was that the guy said he killed the fish - and for no other reason than that he claimed it was a "garbage fish". Waste, waste, waste. Anyway, I've caught (as I've said) a ton of dogfish on the Rock river fishing both from boat and on shore at Fort Atkinson and Jefferson and on the Fox river in Mukwanogo WI. Big too.
Cool site
JohnA 05/08/06

June 2005, Eagle Lake

Hi BAGman,
I came across your website when I was trying to figure out exactly what it was that I caught today. By process of elimination, we thought the only thing it could possibly be is a dogfish. My husband and I were fishing on Eagle Lake, about 6 miles East of Danbury, WI in the Town of Swiss. We were actually fishing for b@$$ using a buzz bait with a yellow double tail plastic worm. I actually caught 3 of these fish today, but only took a picture of the first one, which was also the largest one. This one I caught in a weedy/grassy sand bottom creek between Eagle Lake and Mud Lake. The other two bowfin I caught in Eagle Lake. I couldn't believe it. It felt like I was fishing in Jurassic Park. Anyway, the one in the picture measured 27" long and was 4.5 pounds. Enjoy the pictures.
Sheri J 06/19/05

May 2005, Yellowstone Lake

Catch and release on gar and bowfin! At least someone has got it right. I don't know if there is a fishable population of gar in this lake but the park manager told me they stocked about 300 gar and a similar number of bowfin in the lake about 10 years ago as an experiment to try to reduce the crappie population. This is Yellowstone Lake in WI.
Bob R 05/18/05

June 2003, Great Marsh

Ray W with five fine fins from the Great Marsh (WI)

Ray W: I caught this fin in a dip net at the marsh. I was in waist deep water trying to net up mudminnows for bait. I felt something thumpin in the net, pulled up, and there he was.

This male was also caught on a sandy bank with cut bait fishing at night.

This little male was caught at night along a sandy bank with cut bait. He was too released.

This big girl I caught using a white,yellow, and green spinner bait.

This little male was also caught at night with cut bait on a sandy bank. The strange shape of its tail was probably caused by a snapper.

Great Marsh

In late June they seem to bite really well at night on cut bait on the sandy drop-offs of a reservoir in the marsh. The rest of the year it seems daytime only. Fishing right on the edge of a drop off, in about a foot of water that goes down to six feet, I use a chunk of chub or shiner suspended under a glow bobber. The bullheads don't come up this shallow, but the males must be feeding after guarding the young and find easy pickings of small sunfish on nests, crawfish, and perch.

This fin I caught on videotape, but I wish I would have had my friend Matt get the camera rolling right away. Out in this reservoir there are clumps of bull rush. They usually always hold one bowfin. I told him as I cast out, "I am going to raise a hoge." Hoge is short for Hogan, because they have a mustache, like our favorite wrestler. Babies are called hogies, or blippers, because they blip at the surface. Anyways, a wake that would make an alligator smile came at the spinner when it hit the water outside the perimeter of the bulrush patch. I dropped the spinner back, then surged it and she nailed it like a freight train. This is where the video picks up. It is pretty uneventful - until I get her to the boat. It's hard to see until she comes up along side the boat and Matt thinks she is done, but I know she is not. Bzzzzzzz out goes some line when she realizes the weeds she is wrapped up in are not hiding her. Another battle and she is in the boat. I never measured her. Judging it fairly, I put her at around 32 inches, possibly a bit more, but no less.

All the bowfin I sent were released. I do eat them, but have not kept one in several years. They are very good eating contrary to popular belief. I think the problem is people expect them to taste like bass or crappie. If they would go into it thinking its something totally different, that would help. If you expected grouse to taste like chicken, you would be repulsed by grouse as well. Another problem is the strangeness of the meat when filleted. The nice thing, no bones other than the ribs and backbone. Soak the fillets in salt water or milk over night. Then freeze, even for a short time. This makes it easier to work with. The meat can be used as canned tuna would be, but of course has to be cooked. Favorite recipes are broiling and deep frying after making patties mixed with green pepper and onion, covered in batter. Celery ,okra and other veggies can be added to the patties. Quick smoking to actually grill the meat in about two hours makes a beef steak like fish fillet. That is good, soaked in a hearty brine before hand.

I have two pets right now, one is a yearling out in the gar pond, and the other is a hogie in a twenty gallon tank. I hope to get a few more to keep inside, and let the one in now go in the pond, along with some new ones. Last winter was brutal, and I lost the bowfin and gar I had in the pond, along with alot of other lesser "newer" fish and plants.

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