December 2006, A Marine's story
For more than a year I've been visiting this site and patiently waiting. See I'm a Marine stationed in Okinawa, and there is no fresh water fishing on the island. My last station was on Camp LeJeune NC, prime bowfin territory. As luck would have it I didn't find this site until I left for the orient. I have caught several Mud Fish but I've never targeted them specifically. When I found this site I couldn't believe there were other people who enjoyed the fish as much as I have. And at last I have orders back to LeJeune in the spring, finning here I come.
My interest in finning started when I was young. While fishing for brim in the local pond my father caught a Bowfin. I was about 8 and I found this fish very interesting. As I got older we switched from brim to B@$$. Trent, White Oak, Cape Fear and the Neuse rivers were our favorites. Many hours were spent in the pursuit of B@SS typically with low numbers and smaller fish as the result. Through the years there were a few more brushes with Bowfin. Our fishing buddies would always react negatively to any contact with them. Most of the time it was just lost plastic worms, cut off by there teeth. From the way they talked they were the lowest form of life to swim. I always thought differently. When my father retired from the Marines we moved to Eastern Tennessee. No Bowfins there but the real B@SS (Small Mouth) lives here. Then it happened.
I joined the Marines and returned to Camp LeJeune. A lot of my buddies had never been fishing so I used to take them. Most of the time we went to the same pond. One day I decided to see if anything big lived there. On a medium heavy rod I put a large minnow and a bobber. As we caught brim I kept an eye on the float which I just let drift. All of a sudden the bobber disappeared! I grabbed the rod and set the hook. An epic battle ensued. My buddies watched with amazement as the unseen fish bent the rod to the handle and made the drag sing. After several amazingly powerful runs I wasn't sure if I had tough enough tackle to bring this beast in. I got it close to the surface and identified it as a bowfin.....a BIG one! Everyone took a step back when I told them it had teeth. Ten minutes after the battle started the fin was done playing with me and cut the line. I was mad to loose such a large fish but proud to have battled her. It wasn't a total loss though, I knew were she lives.
Two weeks later I returned with steel leaders and the same friends. I threw out the minnow and waited. Sure enough the big fin obliged. I though this time I had her. I was wrong. She broke my line and kept the leader, 20lbs test Stren snapped like it was thread. This was not going to be easy!
Two weeks after that I went to try again. This time all alone, my friend thought I couldn't land it. Out goes the minnow and I start catching brim. An hour or two after I started fishing a man pulled into the parking lot with car trouble. I reeled in my lines to go help him. After we determined a tow was in order we were looking at the pond and talking when I noticed I forgot to reel in the minnow in. I started for the pole as the bobber went down. Just before the Bowfin claimed a good rod I grabbed it. Game on! Again the battle was savage. I had fought this same fish twice before and still couldn't believe its power. The fight lasted an easy 15 minutes, all the while the stranger watched stunned. I had brought a net this time but I left it in my trunk. The keys of course were in my pocket. Not wanting a strangers hand in my pocket I decided to grab it by its gill plate. When it got close enough I handed him the rod and got in the water with this monster. She seemed played out after a fierce fight and I picked her up pretty easy. I could not believe the size of this fish! Smiling like an idiot I stood there taking the hook out. I was holding the fish almost at my hip and its tail touched the ground. I threw the keys to the man and asked if he'd get my camera and take a picture. All of a sudden the fish sprang back. She shook violently and got out of my hand and returned to the water. I think the guy felt worse about it than I did. But its OK, I still know were she lives and I'm heading there as soon as I get back!!! And when I catch her this time I will send the pictures for you all to see BEFORE I release her.
My son, Derek A, caught a nice 4 lb. cypress trout in a grist mill pond on the Little River In Johnston Co. NC on 10/7. It was his first bowfin. He caught him on a Texas-rigged plastic worm in the primrose.
Hal A, 10/18/06
Attached are a couple of pictures from last week 7/31/06. The lady's name is Desiree H. The bowfin was 12.16 lbs. She was fishing with Captain Gary M of Citation Guide
Services, Hertford, NC. She also caught 4 other Bowfins between 6 and 8
pounds and an eleven pound gar. All fish were caught on squid.
I'm still chasing Tim G but I caught a few more in my pursuit of a 15 lb Bowfin. Once again I have to say if you want a fight to remember go ultra light with a low pound test. I use 6lb Suffix performance braid and it hasn't failed me yet! I caught the 3lb fin on a jerk bait in muddy water. The 9lb one was caught on the back side of the impoundment in a swampy pond with a weedless frog. I love catching this fish! Tim G I'm still chasing Ya!
I'm still trying for my 15 pound bowfin but I did catch one more to add to my collection. And for a challenge I decided to try to catch them on fluorocarbon. I have to say if you want a challenge try some fluorocarbon. It appears to have to have the strength to handle an 8+ pound bowfin on 4 pound test! It's been difficult for me catching them lately. The impound I fish is small (I almost feel like I've caught most of them) so I'm having to switch up try lures that I haven't used in a while. A couple of jigs and some grubs that I haven't used in years. The bowfin were all over them. I guess showing them something new got them going. The bad part is I couldn't set the hook the way I can with braid. But the fight was great! I was curious what is the most popular lure for bowfin. I also fish the swamp on the back of the impound with a tube...running it across the surface of the weeds. Those bowfin hunt differently. They're surface hunters. I guess different environment
different fishing tactics. But I'm still catching them...even in the rain!
I'm hooked on bowfin (having just caught my first one!) Thanks for your
informative website that quieted down my snobbish fellow fisherman. The
best they would say when we ate it was, "It's not real sucky." I think
they were just jealous.
Scope out the one I'm talking about, caught in Lower Deadwater Creek in
The Great Dismal Swamp (part of the Roanoke River Basin in North
Mike H, 06/13/06
Here's my catch from a small canal off of the Albermarle Sound in
NC. The big one is almost 8lbs. We catch a lot of Gar and Fins with cut
sunfish, as well as the stray catfish and once a huge crappie! Thanks for
the site as I'm now looking forward to my first meal of Fin!
May 2006, Alligator River
I am part of a group of old farts that fish the "Alligator River" in NC. We call our group Bowfinners Anonymous. Here I am with a recent catch. Not bad!!! On Saturday night we have our annual "bowfry". We clean and cook our catch from the week-end.
Enjoyed your website and will send some updates from time to time.
Eddie "The Miracle", 05/26/06
I caught some new bowfin and want to tell all that the new lure called the "Chatterbait" that is suppose to be great for b@$$ is also a great bowfin catcher. I caught these 6.5 and 6 pound bowfin on the Chatterbait. This lure is great and I have to give it it's props! I'm looking for my 15 lb bowfin stay tuned!
I have also gotten my fiancee into the bowfin fishing scene as well. Here is a picture of her 5 pound bowfin on an ultra light system. I'm also including a picture of a different looking bowfin. Almost looks like a chain pickerel!
I love your website! I got into bowfin fishing early this year and have been hooked ever since. I started fishing for them to practice my b@$$ fishing but these fins hit harder. I bagged a couple of nice ones fishing at my local waterfowl impoundment in Durham, North Carolina. I started catching them on a Texas-rigged worm, then moved to tubes, and I know they are hitting even crankbaits. Most say it's best to fish for them using braided fishing line and the best I've found is Suffix performance braid. I use 6 pound test on an ultra light spin system. Love the fight!
Today, My mom, Deborah S, caught her 1st bowfin...26 inches. She and my father released it after putting it in a cooler and driving it around town to find out what kind of fish it was. My dad had an even bigger one on the hook yesterday but it snapped the line just as they were getting it on the dock. They live on Tarklin Creek in NC (just off Dawson Creek and the Neuse River). They have the fever now and can't wait to catch another tomorrow!
Carla S 04/20/06
My name is Kevin B and I am a big bowfin fishing
fan from North Carolina. About 2 weeks ago, my nephew Jeffery and I
caught these fish on Contentnea Creek tributary of the Neuse river. The
weather is just starting to cool down and bowfin fishing really starts
getting good now until about December. We caught about 20 fish that
day, the biggest was 36 inches long and he was over 10 lb
We release all our fish. A lot of people here
consider them a nuisance and kill them, but they sure put up a fight so
we release them to fight again.
I caught a beautiful bowfin on Saturday in the
White Oak River above Haywood Landing
and south of Maysville, North Carolina. I was fishing for bass with
topwater deer hair flies
when a 27 inch bowfin hit the fly.
Sorry it's been awhile since I have sent any pics of the
Mighty Bowfin your way. To be honest, this weekend was the first real
time I have had to fish for them since summer. I am back though, the
weather is getting warm and the Fins are really showing up. The two
pics attached are of 2 of the 4 fins I caught this past Saturday. It
was pretty chilly out but they still bit the Culprit Bassworm I was
using. The second one is about the fattest Fin I have seen in some
time, he fought like a tank. Anyway, I'll keep you posted on any more
Fins I pull in. The site is really looking great. It is just so great
that you dedicate your time to further the sport of Fin Fishing. Keep
Jeff C. (tangmus) 02/28/05
December 2004, Loc'n Unknown
Seven year old, Christopher, caught his first bowfin, 23 inches. We ate
this one, it was ok. We went back the next week and he brought in
another one around the same size out of a small private pond in NC.
That was one happy boy. After we ate the filets, we dissected the
carcass. You see, we are homeschoolers and make the most of every
learning opportunity. The liver and egg sacks were huge. The boys
enjoyed dissecting it. Since the fish is big, it makes for great
specimen. What a day we had!
Oct 2, 2004
Matthew brought in his first bowfin. He had hooked into several before,
but they always broke the line before we got them up on shore. We've
fixed that problem with some steel leaders. I wanted to go fish so I
dragged him along and he pulls in a 23" bowfin. I only caught some
bream but it was fun seeing him bring his in. They are one fighting
fish! I'm still looking for a bigger one. I love seeing the pictures
and reading the stories on your site. North Carolina can have some warm
days in the winter so I'll be sending a picture of me with a bowfin the
next time it is warm enough.
all, this bull was caught on 10 July 2004,
just off the Hwy 17 by Marine Corps Air Station New River,
Jacksonville, NC. Sorry for the resolution...took the pic from a cell
phone. This is my first bowfin catch ever, since moving out here from
Southern California. I am normally used to catching trout, bass
& bluegill. It was a fun fight, and used Power Bait tequila
worms with 14 lb test line. Better yet, it was only my second cast of
the day. The fish measured out as follows: Length: 24 inches.. Girth:
11.8 inches.. Weight: 5 pounds
I had a good week of fishing. It started out normally, losing
lures and tree fishing and then it was on. I was getting bites all the
way up to the land and when I saw them - WHAT A RUSH!!!! I couldn't
stop shaking. My casts went every where but in the water. Then it
started to rain, so I gathered myself, had cold soda and a smoke. About
the time the rain started to quit a longnose gar swam out the current
and just circled around about 4 in. from top. Had to have been at least
3 1/2 to 4 foot long. I threw and threw but no luck. 07/04/04
Boy has this weekend been good. I have never had more fun fishing in my
life. I took a friend of mine fishing for Fins and we tore it up! I
caught my largest Fin of the summer at 10 lbs.and my friend, who hasn't
fished for Fins in a long time caught an 11 lb. I attached the pictures
of those and some other nice sized Fins. I can't describe how awesome
it was catching these fish. We used a bass worm and I swear you got a
bite on :almost every cast. You never get tired of feeling that little
"tonk" on the end of your line. Anyway, I'll be back out on the hunt
for the double-digit mamas tomorrow after getting a new fishing license
and I'll keep you updated. By the way, thanks for having such a great
site and for keeping it up to date and such. I can't say I go to any
site more than BAG. Jeff C N. Cape Fear R, NC 07/03/04
My First Fin
I was about 8 years old and I had only just discovered the
wonderful joys of fishing. A neighbor down the street from my house was
more than generous in letting me fish in his pond almost everyday. Sure
most of my friends were into sports, I was also, to an extent (a little
baseball), but I spent the majority of my free time fishing. In that
little donut-shaped pond I learned how to fish and fish successfully.
Seldom did I have anybody to fish with me except a little mutt named
Lady. Most days after school I would get my cheap Shakespeare fishing
rod and my dad's old tackle box and ride my bike to the pond and fish
until the mosquitoes and deer flies ran me off. Fishing became
something I enjoyed more than most things in my life at the time. I got
good. My dad would take me fishing and I'd do a decent job out fishing
him. My dad would often take my brother and me fishing, when we begged
enough to. Needless to say about the time I was 10 years old, fishing
was my life.
I remember it was a teacher workday. My dad was working and my
brother and I really wanted to go fishing. In no time we had coerced my
mom into taking us. We opted to go to a pretty good sized pond in
Duplin County called Nash Johnson's Pond. It was a pay-to-fish pond,
costing $1 to fish from the bank and $2 from a boat. We fished there
for nearly two hours without a bite and were getting bored (I wasn't, I
can enjoy fishing all day without a bite sometime, but my brother was a
different story). About to give up on the day, my mom decided to take
us to what she called her "special fishing hole."
My mom had told us a few stories before of going fishing in a
little creek right down the road from where she grew up. One particular
story involved her best friend's mother catching what they called a
"pike." With my mom being only 8 years old at the time and just
starting to enjoy fishing herself, this "pike" was a very elusive fish.
The story went like this: My mom and her girlfriend were to go fishing
but they had to get their own bait first, which usually involved
digging up worms from the floor of an old tobacco barn. There were few
worms to be found that day but they did find a small toad and decided
to use it. Getting my mom's friend's mother to go with them to the
creek, they set off. The fishing was slow. They didn't use the toad for
a while and had found crickets near the creek. Running out of crickets
my mom's friend put the toad on her hook not meaning to really catch
anything. She cast out and set the rod into the grass and walked away
to look for more crickets. About a minute later her mother barely
caught the pole from sliding into the creek. She fought the fish on the
old cane pole for a while before finally heaving the fish onto the
bank. What she had caught was a Bowfin and everything about it--the
colors, teeth, the shape, the little "boogers" coming from the
nose--interested them. My mom had said that it was probably the best
day of fishing she had ever had.
This creek, my mom's "special spot", was about a 5-minute
drive for where we were. We packed up our stuff and were standing at
the little creek before not too long. According to my mom, it was just
the same as it has always been; a swampy, black-watered creek about 15
feet wide. We started to fish. After about three or four little bream
and warmouth my brother dropped his rod in the water. Luckily the thing
floated and would be easy to get out. I took my line and tried to hook
the rod floating on the surface of the creek and right as I did I felt
the most massive attack on my bait that I ever had. Before I knew what
was happening my rod was doubled over and my heart was racing.
Fish always do wait until the most inopportune time to decide
to get hungry. All I remember is a fight that lasted what seemed like
forever before hauling up a beautiful 3 pound Bowfin. It was a male I
now know because the coloring was wonderful right down to the little
dark spot on the tail. My mom was the most excited I have ever seen her
about fishing, she screamed "Jeffrey, that's a pike bigger that the one
Margaret's mom caught." I was too excited to think, here lay the
largest fish I had ever caught. Questions ran through my head. How did
a fish this size live in a creek so little? What kind of fish is this?
It looks like a snake! On that day I never knew that 10 years later I
would be spending hours upon hours seeking these rugged, line ripping,
adrenaline-pumping fish. I will always remember that day and how it
convinced me that there is no other fish that can provide more
excitement than the mighty Bowfin.
Jeff C 04/14/04
Whilst catching 12"-24" bowfin for a scientific research
project (See Science),
Jeff C also caught this nice 9 pounder and a six pounder as well
(right). Thanks for helping,
just found your web page tonight, and I love it.
I never thought that anyone really fished for bowfin (Blackfish in our
area) for sport, but for a few guys I know. I thought that you would be
interested to see a picture of North Carolina's Record Bowfin. It was
caught by my brother, Gregory D Sr. The fish weighed 17lb-15oz, He was
36 and 1/2 inches long, 18 inches in diameter, one monster of a fish
[caught 1997]. By the way, if you bowfin anglers ever wondered how a
bowfin would look as a mount? They are absolutely gorgeous. He has
taken a blue ribbon at the county fair every year he enters his fish.
What my brother doesn't know is that I'm in hot pursuit of his state
record fish. Hope that you enjoy the photo and may your next fin be a
record. Who knows maybe world record?
Yours, A bowfin angling friend,
It has been a while since I've submitted anything
due to the river being very high. This weekend was very good, a good
bite on almost every cast (granted they are mostly 12" males). Every
once in a while you hang up a big one. Anyway, here are some of the
photos of the largest, only a few though. The largest one was 9.5
pounds (I'm still waiting for a 12+). I took two pictures of it, one on
the front of the boat and another where I tried to set the camera on
the seat of the boat and use the timer on the camera, this one didn't
come out too good though. The ones I am holding, I caught at night with
cut bait and the others I caught with a Bass worm. I also included the
catch log data for some of them, most of the time I forget to record
this stuff. I am finally done with school for the summer and now I have
more time to pursue the RECORD, the NC record will do for me ;-).
Thanks and Tight Lines,
Jeff C (tangmus)
thought I'd write some tips of mine for the
mighty Fin. I also attached a picture of a Bowfin I caught last weekend
that was deformed with a stunted tail. It wasn't as if it had been
damaged when the fish was little, it just had grown wrong. Despite the
smaller tail, it still fought harder than any I caught in that size
range. Kinda ironic I guess.
Jeff C 4/22/04
Went Fishing today at Cape Fear NC and took these
pictures. I didn't have anyone fishing with me so they are all taken
lying on the boat's floor. I wish I had some of me holding them.
Anyway, I am going tomorrow and I'll try to get some more pics if I get
some fins. The young man in the photo is my brother Joseph, who caught
this fin at the same spot a couple days ago.
Jeff C 04/08/04
You NC finners just had too much for one page. Click here for 2007 or 2008 and newer.