Seems like my roughfishing mission is going abroad! A trip to Ditto Landing in Huntsville, AL was in order this weekend. Not too long after catching our bait my uncle tied into a smalll catfish on his ultralight (as in 4-lb line) and the fish broke off just as I was about to pull it in. Rather than fishing in the actual marina, we fished the river backwater that ran parallel to the back of the marina. I got a bite from a gar on my cut bluegill... A very smalll spotted gar, but it dished out more hurt than any other gar I've caught, raking its teeth across my hand and giving me three good scratches that hurt (a stinging, burning sensation almost as if a catfish had finned me) for several minutes afterward.. After missing numerous strikes due to the gar rushing for the snags that scattered the backwater, we moved a bit, but unfortunately this area a hundred yards away turned out to be worse as far as snags are concerned... My uncle's line got a hit, but he insisted that I should be the one to reel in the fish. So, I pulled up a 4 lb. bowfin. Turns out, you really need to watch yourself even with gloved hands; the bowfin bit into the top of my thumb where the glove is made of soft fabric. It measured at 22", but it was awfully thick in comparison to most bowfin I've caught. I've also notice firsthand now the difference from the bowfin back in my home in Savannah and the ones here. The water in Savannah river system (and the other systems in the area) is stained with tannin, and this tends to make the bowfin dark in coloration. This bowfin was considerably lighter, I'm assuming due to the absence of tannin. Anyway, the spot proved no more successful after that catch, as I only landed a snapping turtle and two pond sliders afterward. The Video - watch it all!
Tyler G, 07/25/11
Hi! I am Josh from Fayette Al. I took a couple of boys who lost their father a few years back fishing on Saturday. We caught several bream and Victor hooked into something big that broke his line immediately. I had my bowfin rig out all day with one of those dry yellow shad you buy at Wal-mart on it with no action, so I cut a piece of bream. Within minutes this monster was on. When I finally landed it, we saw that Victors line was still in his mouth. Awesome.
Josh S, 05/23/11
I can give you some great hot spots down here in Alabama for great size bowfin. We call the blackfish down here and not too many people eat them or keep them, but I enjoy them. They taste really great. The best place to catch them is in Luverne,AL right in the city limits at the river bridge. The next best place to catch them is in Glenwood which is about 6 miles from
Luverne. The Conecuh river runs through there and you can get on a good nest of them if you know what you are looking for. Hope this information helps out.
Our first one was caught 2 or 3 years ago and no one knew what it was then we found your website. This one was caught today. We have really enjoyed fishing for them so much that we don't tell anyone where they were caught. We just happened on this spot near the dam and there ya go lol.... Well any help we can give let us know. We have caught several up 17-20 lbs.on a good day we have caught 10 or more.
In the North Alabama area, you would do well to fish the "West Dike" backwater impoundment, in the Swan Creek Wildlife Management area. Located on the North side of the Wheeler Lake off H-way 31 North of Decatur. Turn west just north of the Delphi site, cross the railroad tracks and go straight into the Management area "Tool Shed" compound. Follow the gravel road around the shed to the "swamp" and your there. On August 1st, I landed a big Bowfin apprx. 10 to 12 lbs, according to the
local biologists, this place is full of 'em. They will absolutely destroy a spinner bait, and a plastic worm every now and then. The west dike impoundment is a water shed / backwater separated from the Wheeler lake by the railroad berm on the east and the "West Dike" on the west, pure swamp, buck bushes pads and weeds. Mud bottom 3 to 5 ft deep, no place for a large boat. A gator every now and then so be careful wading, best to use a small hand launched aluminum or b@$$ buster pontoon.
Sorry, Bagman, I didn't get any pictures. We were
fishing in Beulah Bay on the Tennessee River between
Decatur and Athens, Alabama at night for catfish. Had
multiple lines out with nightcrawlers, livers or live
minnows. It was cool (for us, at least), about 45
degrees. Cat bite was ok, all channel cats, and we
were fixing to call it a night at about 11 p.m. when
something hit a minnow like a train! It was a male
bowfin, just starting to green up some, maybe 24
inches. My eight-year-old son was suitably impressed,
and has now starting focusing on catching more.
Odd thing: I thought I'd injured him, because he had
some blood around his tail. Upon closer inspection, he
was oozing dark blood from his tail spots bilaterally.
I could find no apparent injury. Could this be a
defensive mechanism? I've caught a few before, but
always by accident and never a male.
My name is Terence S and I live on beautiful Lake Eufaula. I caught, what I thought at first, was the ugliest thing I'd ever seen, but did he ever put up a fight! I was flipping a green-pumpkin Senko worm with a chartreuse tail up in the grass under a stand of cypress trees when he lit into me. Not knowing what in the world it was, I threw him in the live well and just kept on fishing. About an hour later we decided to head home, taking my weird catch to show off and hopefully find out what it was. After arriving at the landing, I went to get him out and found that there wasn't a drop of water left in the live well. I'm guessing he was in there for almost an hour with no water, but he was still breathing. I figured that if he's made it this long, I'm going to see if I can help him out enough so I can release him. I wound up putting him in my aquarium long enough for me to show him off and for him to recuperate. I left him in there until the next day and then I took him back down to the lake behind the house. He's back in the lake now about a mile up river from where he was caught, but I'm sure he'll find a way; after all his kind have found a way over the last 150 million years.
Catching that Fin messed me up though, because now every b@$$ I catch just doesn't measure up and I'm constantly begging another Fin to give me a shot. I didn't get to weigh him, but I did take his measurements; He is 27.5 inches long with a girth of 13 inches. According to your chart he was approximately 6.7 lbs. I really appreciate what you all have done putting together this great site; it has given me a new insight to what all God has put on this earth that maybe some of us would've
otherwise just passed over.
Terence S, 03/04/08
My son has caught some green and silvery variety bowfin, all around 7-9 pounds at the Flint River. But on the Spring Branch, Huntsville, we saw today 2 black and white ones or so they appeared from the bank also about 7-9 pounds. We have also caught them in Wheeler Refuge near Mooresville, Alabama, of the green and silver type. They are good to eat if you eat them as soon as they come out of the fryer but we usually catch and release 99 % of all our fish.
I would like to let you know of a recent bowfin catch in Lee County, Alabama. The bowfin was caught on a camping trip at WW Ranch on July 1, 2006 by 4-year-old Stephen G.
Stephen was fishing with nightcrawlers on a bobber setup in Osanippa Creek about an hour before dusk. At the time none of us knew what kind of fish this was until it was described to my father-in-law. He said it sounded like a bowfin so we search the Internet for it and found your website. We took several pictures of the fish including one with Stephen. I will send the pictures to you. If you decide to post Stephen's picture with the bowfin, please let me know so I can have him and his parents look at the picture on the site. Also included is the TopoZone link for Osanippa Creek in Lee county. We will let you know of any future catches
Crayton S, 07/03/06
A buddy and I were bass fishing at the mouth of Hatchechubee Creek in
Russell County, Alabama on June 24, 2006. I threw a lizard, Texas-rigged, to
the edge of some grass near the bank. I had a fish on as soon as it hit the
water. I thought I had a pretty good bass, until I saw what looked like an
eel mixed with a walleye! I had never caught a bowfin before, neither had my
buddy. I didn't want to pick it up because of the teeth I could see in the
fish's upper jaw, but knew I had to get a picture in order to identify what
it was. It wasn't a very big bowfin, but fought pretty good. I'm including the
link to the location on Topozone.
David M, 06/29/06
It's funny how all big fish have a big fish story....
The foot controls on my boat went out a couple days before so I borrowed my brother's boat. My fiancee and I launched his boat into Lake Tuscaloosa to try for spotted b@$$ in the North River shoals. The boat cranked right up but the low oil light was on and the alarm was sounding in his boat I finally decided it was a false alarm and proceded to run up North River a couple of miles from the busy boat ramp with the alarm buzzing the whole way. It started to rain and neither Crissee or I had a rain jacket. I stopped the boat and asked her if she wanted leave. Crisee just shrugged her shoulders and said "Well, we're here now". So we kept going.
We finally got into North River and recent rains had turned the main river(large creek) into chocolate milk. I kept going up the river hoping it would clear once we got into the shoals but it just got worse. So we turned around and headed for a slough in North river that you can not normally get a boat into unless the water is high. With Crisee pushing the back of the boat with a paddle and me on the trolling motor, we drug the boat into a beautiful little slough with clear-green water and proceded to catch half a dozen small largemouth throwing Zoom trick worms and weightless lizards into lilly pads.
The lake was small, maybe only 3 acres or so. We worked around the main lake about twice and then went to the very back where a narrow channel opened into a smaller lake about an acre in size. Just as we cleared the channel into the lake, I through a 6" Junebug Trick Worm parallel to the bank. I let it sit for a few seconds and gave it a a couple of quick jerks. Then it happened - one of the biggest fish I have ever caught on a rod and reel came up and grabbed the worm just below the water's surface. I saw the nearly three foot fish grab the worm and I knew it was a huge Grinnel. As soon as I hooked the fish, I grunted to Crisee my three favorite words in the English language.... "Get the net!".
The tackle I had was not quite up to par for such a large fish and I had quite a time keeping him out of the pads that were everywhere. I finally got him to the boat and Crisee slid the net under him and I grabed the net from her and tried to lift the fish into the boat. It took me a minute to realize what had happend but all of a sudden the fish was back in the water! The heavy fish had actually torn a hole through the bottom of the net. Luckily the fish did not make a run but just lay on the top of the water until I threaded rod, reel and line through the hole in the net. The fight was not over yet.
The fish, now rested must have sensed he better fight for all he was worth. I swear the fish fought harder now than he had when I first hooked him. He took of on a good 30 yard run away from the boat with my drag screaming, and at the end of the run he made a spectacular jump with his long body completely out of the water and his head shaking.
I managed to get him turned back towards the boat and the fish, now seemingly tired of merely aiming for lily pads, headed for the trolling motor! I just barely managed to keep him out of the trolling motor when he then started going under the boat. I don't remember all of the details after this, but Crisee said I jumped from the front deck to the back deck of a sixteen foot boat in one jump, to get him around his new target - the outboard! I went around that boat at least three times before the fish finally tired again and Crisse slipped what was left of the net under the fish. This time we managed to get him into the boat.
I weighed the fish on digital scales by Berkely as soon as he was on board at 18.8 pounds, just shy of 19.0. I knew it was a big grinnel but did not really think it might be a record. The livewell pump was not working and I just put the fish into a dry livewell and kept fishing. We went back to her parent's house to show off the fish and get some pictures. Again, we weighed it on her dad's scales. His scale showed 18 pounds and 14 ounces. Only after I got home that night from Crisee's, and several hours after I caught the fish, did I decide to look at the record books. I went and got the fish out of the truck and wrapped it up in a garbage bag and put it in a cooler overnight.
The next morning I took it to the Game and Fish Department down the road, where it was officially identified by a fisheries biologist as a bowfin and he directed me to the Farmers co-op where I had it weighed on certified scales some 18 hours after it came out of the water at 18 pounds and 6 ounces topping the old state record of 17 pounds 12 ounces that had stood for 27 years.
Nelson S, 04/21/06
March 2006 - "Untamed Guide Service"
Thank you for your interest Chuck, I am a strictly catch and release man myself. When I first started catching bowfin, I was asked by my family to "clean out" a creek on our family's land. As I gained a greater understanding and appreciation for these animals, I learned that I could never kill any animal that gave so much heart into each fight, unless I was planning to eat that fish. Seeing as how I don't know how to cook them I am even happier letting them swim!
The name of my guide service is Untamed Guide Service. I guide for bowfin on Alabama's untamed waterways in the area, such creeks as: Cedar, Oakmulgee, Childer's, and Big Swamp. I am also hoping to guide on the Cahaba River and Blue Girth Swamp.
If you or any one else has any questions please email me.
Those Bowfin's really hit buzzbaits. Here is
a pic of a heck of a bowfin my 10 year old son caught on a crappie
minnow. We live on Redstone Arsenal, AL. I'd never seen a bowfin until
the day one of those mean machines hit my bass lure. There is a quite
small pond on post that we fish, after researching the fish and finding
your page we all want to catch a bowfin. That bowfin pulled the boat!
We put him back. Don't worry, I was easy on his gills, we were more
scared of him than he was scared of us! Bowfin are some bad fish. More