Vermont

Shhh! Don't tell anyone Champ is really an ancient bowfin, nearly 100ft long. If you can't catch her, try for her offspring and 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.

December 2010, Lake Champlain

GASSman,
I am a gar addict from Vermont. I fish for and guide for longnose gar on Lake Champlain. As you probably know there is a good population of gar in the lake and I routinely get them to take flies. I even did a show on Vermont Public Television a couple of years ago about it. (Vermont Outdoor Journal should have it back up on their website before too long). This year I became the first person to become a Vermont Master Angler and the fifth fish I entered to get my pin was a longnose gar. The gar had to have a minimum length of 36" and I crushed it with a 46" fish. So far I am the only person to have entered a gar.

I also entered 12 bowfin and was involved in helping catch 9 other Master Class bowfin. Right now bowfin are the most numerous fish entered in the program largely because of me. This is all on fly tackle. Check out my video of this on YouTube. To my knowledge I am the first person to guide for bowfin and gar on the fly in this area (another guide service does guide bowfin on the fly now, but they learned from me!) Please check out my website, http://www.drewpriceonthefly.com/. My guide service will be on the website shortly and I will also be offering flies to target these and other species for sale.
Thanks a million! Semper Amia!
DrewP, 12/04/10





July 2010, Lake Champlain

Hey BAGman!
Another year has come and gone for the annual 3 day LCI Fathers Day Derby where bowfin are an eligible species to weigh in. Each year I spend more and more time splitting up time for both b@$$ and bowfin. Soon I think I will switch to fishing exclusively for them and not b@$$! Caught a whole mess of them ranging from 5 to 10 lbs. Love being at the weigh station and having people ask the big question "What is THAT thing!?". Got to love the fins.... Thanks

WildFisherWoman, 07/01/10




June 2010, Loc'n Unknown

Hey BAGman!
I have been fishing Bowfins all my life, I love to catch them. Wanted to send a pic of the last one I got, 35 inches and just under 13lbs. It was around 16inches around. It bit my hand has I went to put the tape on it. First time for that!!
DustinB, 06/11/10




June 2010, Lake Champlain

Hey BAGman!
Headed out to the backwaters of a few of northern VT's rivers over the Memorial Day weekend to pursue one of my top fishing addictions! Spring fin spawn catch and release! The males are gorgeous right now with their turquoise and yellow spawning colors (typical coloration for this part of Lake Champlain). Anchored in a open area in a foot of water between the vegetation and sight fished a mess of them as they swam from weed patch to weed patch. Thought I'd share!!!! Thanks

WildFisherWoman, 06/02/10




June 2009, Lapan Bay, Lake Champlain

BAGman,
I caught this bowfin in Lapan Bay on Lake Champlain. It took me about ten minutes to reel in. I am 15 years old and I am hooked on catching these powerful fish. Thanks

TannerF, 08/21/09




June 2009, Lake Champlain

Chuck,
I'm a VT eastern Lake Champlain fisherwoman who recently discovered I'm highly addicted to fishin' fins. Just fished the LCI 2009 Father's Day derby and pulled a bunch of fins out of some river backwaters. Heres a few pics.. One was 7-8lbs and the other 10.33. Enjoy! There needs to be some more VT representation on here!!! VT has a great fin fishing...... Thanks

CherylF, 06/26/09




March 2009, The Creek (Keeler Bay)

Chuck,
I am enclosing two pictures of bowfin at Lake Champlain. One is of my son Dave with the Boga Grip. The other is Jake, son of Dave's best friend. This was Jake's first bowfin and he was really amazed at the speed of a bowfin when it has been hooked. Both at same site: 44 39 03 N 73 18 46 W Locals just call it the Creek. All of our bowfin come with the pretty green fins. Thanks

DickB, 03/30/09




January 2009, Panton Dam

Chuck,
The first one I caught on a Hayden. I cast to my right and as I was reeling the lure back into view the fin inhaled it. This fin was 24 inches long and 4 pounds. I released her and 10 minutes later a second fin (on same lure),same story except when I set the hook the lure pulled out of it's mouth and shot straight up in the trees above my head. The second pic is from August 26th and I caught it on cut bait and right after the photo was taken the fin jumped out of my arms like a surface to air missile and landed in the water and swam away with no problem.
TroyH, 01/26/09




July 2008, Lake Champlain

BAGman,
I am 40 years old was an avid trout fisherman for years, up until this year. My son liked b@$$ fishing, so I figured I would give it a try, then my son decided he wanted to catch all species of fish in New Hampshire so started our quest. We checked the new Hampshire fish and game web site to see all the species of fish when we noticed one pond in new Hampshire that was supposed to have bowfin and northern pike, both of which we needed to complete the quest. We caught the pike and met the man that caught the bowfin out of that pond, but he said that was a long time ago and hasn't heard of anyone else catching one. After many trips to the pond, we didn't catch any. We pretty much figured that bowfin were scarce in New England so we gave up on them. We decided to go to Lake Champlain for northerns. I saw a large fish surface and go under; it was a bowfin! My son and I looked at each other and ran to the truck to get our boat and fishing gear. We fished all day and did not catch one. We caught some nice pike and b@$$ but no bowfin. We were starting to get disappointed when my son's friend hooked a giant bowfin. It jumped and he got it close but it got loose. About 20 minutes later he landed a 12 in. one we were pretty happy - size didn't matter we just wanted to land one since we had been on the lake for about ten hours. Within the next two hours we landed two five pounders and hooked up and missed about a dozen. It was amazing! The best fresh water sportfish I have ever had the chance to catch. I am hooked! I will definitely come to Champlain again for that amazing action. The picture I am attaching is my son Joe with his first bowfin a 5 1/2 pounder.
Darren F, 07/14/08




July 2008, Lake Champlain

BAGman,
I fished Lake Champlain this past weekend and caught several of them and fell in love with the fight and the power of them. I hooked onto one that was far larger than the one that I have attached a picture but lost it as I was pulling it out of the water. I am from New Hampshire where I don't think there are even any more Bowfin outside of Wilson Pond, Keene(although I have only heard of a couple being caught in the past few years). I was interested in using this site to learn more about the Bowfin and where to catch them/tips. Attached is a picture of a nice Bowfin I caught out of Lake Champlain. Notice the blood dripping from it's mouth from where my friend was bit by it.
MikeH, 07/14/08




October 2007, Panton Dam

Chuck,
The bowfin activity was at Panton Road Bridge on October 20th(Saturday)! The weather was high 69 degrees,partly cloudy,winds WSW at 10 to 20 MPH. There was more than just bowfin rising on the surface. There were baby freshwater drum and I believe there were also gizzard shad,white perch and small carp. All feeding was from the surface. There were small to huge ripples everywhere on the north side in line with the bridge and all around the east and west bank all within casting distance!
I looked into the water and there was not enough insects to warrant that kind of surface activity! This was an act of nature that I have dubbed "Fall's Artificial Feeding Frenzy"

"Fall's Artificial Feeding Frenzy" In the fall when the trees and plants shut down by means of leaves turning colors and weakening and plants dry yellow and brown and then split open and expose their light seedlings. The water is very low this time of year and there's no current,it's dry and windy. The wind blows all light debris such as leaves, twigs, seedlings, and whatever is light and dry into the water. The winds also push on the water causing a current therefore to all the fish it looks like a big hatch going on.

Finally towards evening I had a fin inhale a Hayden Lure! It was 23"long,10 7/8 "girth and weighed 03.15 pounds. I had a pic an let it go! In years past I have seen seedlings fall from trees into the water and trout and salmon feed on them just like it was an insect hatch! I was talking to guy I know and he said he even noticed this feeding behavior out on Lake Bomoseen and on Lake Dunmore(both here in VT).
TroyH, 10/24/07




October 2007, Panton Dam

BAGman,
Like an idiot I did not bring my camera with me when I went with a buddy to Panton Dam today(October 12th,Friday). This is the latest time of the year I have ever gone their to fish. It was so cold today and rainy this morning I figured it was going to be a no fish,bad day.
It rained hard this morning and then stopped. As soon as my buddy and I pulled into the Dam we saw huge ripples on the south side of the Dam(that is the upstream side). However the water was very very low and there was no current.It was all still and low water! Very murky too!.
I saw ripples everywhere but could'nt understand why because there were no flies or minnows jumping at all? A few minutes later my buddy said hey I see the fin of something so I looked down and could see a small minnow of something.I could just barely make it out.When it got close enough I grabbed it with success and it was a small gizzard shad.It was silver mostly with nice blue and pink highlights shimmering. It's pyhsical dimensions were about the size of 1/2 OZ panther martin but much lighter in weight.
I than realized that there are gizzard shad all over and are barely moving and the fins were just inhaling the easy pickens.That's why we don't see dry flies and minnows jumping.The water was very warm to the touch! Could the gizzard shad be dying because of low oxygen?
I then put silver lures on to match the hatch and I actually snagged a fin in the back. Finally after a twenty minute fight I landed it and it weighed just over 4 1/2 pounds and about two feet long. It was a real pale brown,dark mustard yellow color. I released it to fight again another time.
A couple of hour's later I actually had a fin inhale the lure I was using.This fin took almost the same amount of time to land as the first.This fin weighed 5 pounds and about two feet long as well as the first. This fin was also released.
I'm just sorry I did'nt have my camera!
TroyH, 10/13/07




August 2007, Lake Champlain

BAGman,
I found your site while researching Bowfin after I caught this heavy hitter (just shy of 11 lbs). He hit a swimming Senco like a freight train and pulled like one too. I've hooked only one or two Bowfin over my fishing career (1 or 2 pounders). I don't intentionally fish these monsters due to my smallie fishing addiction but would welcome that kind of fight any day! After the photo shoot this fella went right back were he came from to fight another day.
Interesting and informative web site.
MikeA, 08/21/07




June 2007, Panton Dam

BAGman,
I went to Panton Dam on June 20th,(Wednesday) and on the way up,there were scattered showers . As I arrived It was just slightly raining .I noticed the water level has dropped way down,like it should be for this time of year. Just a light current under the dam. No matter when I go there,there is always surface activity.
To my surprize,while I was standing on the Dam Facing to the south,which is upstream of the dam(where the current comes from) I saw minnows jumping everywhere and being chased by what I thought were small male northens.
They were right next to shore coming up after minnows everywhere. So I put a lure on that is perfect for this situation( a Hayden that matched the hatch), and I fan casted everywhere.I would mainly cast right into where the minnows came up so I would have the perfect presentation.

Finally I cast off to my left and I'm reeling when all of a sudden,BAM I felt a tremendous pull. To my surprise it was a big female bowfin. I found out It was a fin I had on instead of a northern when she went airborne,AWESOME. She went around in numerous powerful circular runs. I finally had a net come to aid. I lifted her out and brought her up into the high wet grass so she would be fine for a few minutes so I could document her. I then had to catch my breath because she took it out of me. I swear she was trying to catch her breath and felt the same about me. I assured her everything will be fine. I immediatly noticed that she has freshly spawned.Her bottom half of her tail has been chewed of and her top end of her dorsal fin had signs of being chewed on by the male fin during spawning.
She was 25" long,11 3/4" girth and weighed 05.04 pounds. Because it rained,the water was real pale and so was she. Her back was a dark olive drab and just as her back started down the sides she had a reflective golden bronze color and then there was a shimmering pale champayne color on her lower sides. Absoultely gorgeous fin.

Finally I picked her up and I gently held her in my hands and placed her in the water exactly where I landed her and she was laying on her side but I know she's gonna be fine.After a couple of minutes She turn right side up,took a big breath of air and I released her and she swam away in an S shape fashion. I was so proud of that moment(that's what BAG is all about). This is when of my best catches I'll always remember. Any encounter with a fin is good but some just feel more inspiring than others.
After I released her I kept fan casting everywhere hoping to catch some more fins but the minnows seemed to not be there anymore.So one of two things,the minnows kept fleeing right out of sight or the fins were full and stopped feeding.
Thanks a million Chuck and good finnin to you.
Talk to you later,
TroyH, 06/26/07


June 2007, Coggman Creek (Lake Champlain)

BAGman,
I went to a place called Coggman Creek. It's on the border of VT/NY. It is back waters of Lake Champlain and this spot is called Ward Marsh WMA. I heard there's everything in their. First time ever visiting.This trip was mainly to scout it out to see what it was all about. As soon as you arrive you are at Coggman Creek bridge. Just a little ways is the covert.

At this covert I saw thousands of small pinhead minnows.I'm guessing small newborn perch,bluegill. Small elongated big eyed looking minnows.Facing easterly in the main channel the water was flowing towards me and is flowing under the road continuing west bound and comes out the other side in what looks like a flooded forest to some extent.

The trees are so thick with green leaves that you can't see that great even though the water is very transparent. I know this because the sun peeks out often shining through small openings and you can see parts of the water.

I caught several big bull bluegills,they were gold with blue cheeks,then observed a large school of big fish in there where I just caught the bluegills.

Now please don't laugh but I honestly thought they were huge large mouth b@$$. So I happened to move to a spot where I could actually cast a line their and when I did a big male bowfin(YES) hit the bait.

I landed a nice male bowfin in eight pound test with a 1/O plain shank hook with one night crawler. It was 24 3/4" long,11 3/8" girth and weighed 04.08. I kept this fin to eat and to do skin mount.

A couple of casts later I caught another male fin and I measured his length and he was the same length so I immediately released him. He was almost an exact copy of the first one. Of course I have photos of both of them.

I then put a lure on and was retrieving from my left and just Saw the lure came into view a roughly two foot fin come right up behind it and just as that happens the treble glides through some green vertical muck anchored vegetation stems slowing the lure down and the fin stopped on a dime as if he was going to slam into it and flared all of hie fins.His dorsal was rippling down his back. So I reeled in took the vegetation off and jigged this lure right in front of his face hoping he was going to inhale this but he never did. He eventually turn around and swam away back into the shaded area. there were about ten different fins together cruising around feeding on the pinhead minnows and dry flies(dry flies being small black beetles,water striders,Gnats and mosquito's.

Talk to you later,

TroyH, 06/11/07


July 2006, Kings Bay (Lake Champlain)

My husband, Kris, caught this bowfin on Lake Champlain on 7/17/06, while fishing for b@$$. He caught this from the Vermont side across from Kings Bay. It was a good fight to reel him in and was really something to watch! He got lucky and caught 7 Bowfin that day. He is going out again tommorow, trying for a bigger one!!. He releases them after catching them.
SherryG, 07/20/06




July 2006, Panton Dam

May 10th at Panton Dam VT was a good day. It was mid 70's, sunny, and the water temp was warm too - 66 degrees. The first one, caught early in the AM was caught on a crawler. This fin was 20.75" long, 10.75" girth, and 3.00lbs. About 9:40 I landed a better one, 24-5/8"L, 11-3/8" G, 4.14lbs, on a silver spinner. Finally at 12:25 I landed one almost identical in size to the second, but this time I was using a gold spinner. A great day finnin'
Troy H, 07/02/06




September 2005, Panton Dam

I got out on 8/22 at Panton Dam VT. It was low 70's, pt cloudy, nice day. The little guy (maybe the smallest shown on BAG?) was caught on a crawler, #8 hook, and 65lb Spiderwire Stealth - not much of a fight! The larger made numerous power runs before I could land her. It was all I could do to hang on -ther's nothing like it!
Troy H, 09/04/05


June 2005

Panton Dam

I had a total of three hookups this day. The first bowfin shot straight away from me like a bullet. As I started reeling, it made powerful, circular runs in the grass. I got it almost close enough to count as "landed" and I got a good look before it popped off. About four pounds, the bright green fins gave it away as a male. The second fought like the first, but this one I managed to land. It was 21-3/4" long, 9-3/4" girth, and weighed 2.13 lbs. The third was running laps right at my feet, but this psychedelic male got off like the first.
TroyH, Panton Dam, VT 06/30/05


Lake Champlain

My wife and I have been joining my in-laws every year for the past 3 years fishing (mainly for bass) at Lake Champlain. Last year I caught my 1st bowfin but didn't know what it was until I showed it to the person that owned the place we were renting. From then on I haven't heard anything good about bowfin until today when I decided to investigate the bowfin legend. I stumbled on to this site and I am reading nothing but good things about them. While our main goal is to catch bass, there is nothing like getting your heart pumping by pulling a bowfin. I caught 2 this year and my father in-law caught 1. His was 25 inches and mine were 21 inches and 30 inches. I am including a picture of the 30 inch. Enjoy the picture! I'll be book marking this site and visiting it on a regular basis.
Roger 06/27/05


Lake Champlain

Hi, I came across your site and thought you might enjoy these pictures. We built a house on Lake Champlain (Vermont) and my husband put in an underground "fish room" with two windows to view the fish in the lake. The fish room is concrete (16 inches thick) and the windows are a special kind of plexiglass which is protected in the winter (from ice damage) by big steel doors that are operated by a winch. We have a stream that goes under an old railroad bridge where the water goes into the lake. That is where the room is. One window is on the stream side and the other on the lake side.The bowfin actually come up to the window and seem to watch us! There are tons of them starting in May as the fish go up the stream to spawn. I have never seen the males guarding the fry, but my husband and son have. They said the fry is a big black mass that moves with the water and the male weaves in and out of the mass. Something unusual I noticed this year is how bowfin spit. They go up to the surface and spit a little stream of water up into the air. The only trouble with our fish room is now we feel like they are pets and we don't fish them anymore! I'll keep you posted on our underwater pets.
Carolyn D 06/16/05


September 2004, Lake Champlain

This is the very last fish I caught on my week-long fishing trip on Lake Champlain at the end of July (07/20/04)- also my first Bowfin. It attacked a black topwater buzzbait at sunset and fought like crazy - what a blast! I didn't get the weight, but we measured it at right around 31". After I saw the teeth on that thing I was a little wary of handling it too much (while I knew about Bowfin, I didn't know the right way to handle one and was wary of some prehistoric sharp gill plates or some such thing). I slid it back into the water and it slowly snaked away which was also cool to see. Your site has helped educate me should I get another one.
Mike 09/14/04


July 2004, Town Farm Bay


Cap'n Kirk 1964

Cap'n Kirk 2004

Cap'n and Brian circa 1983

The next generation - Lt. Brian
And so it goes...

My oldest son Brian returned with me to Lake Champlain in June where he and I had last fished in August 1983 when he was 6. He landed this 5.5 lb feisty fin shortly after I had landed mine. The creek mouth marshes with interweaving channels is was, and probably forever shall be some of the most active bowfin habitat that I've ever encountered.Thanks for the assistance in posting this beautiful fish...geez do I sound like Bass Bubba Jimmy Houston on his show? If so, my regard and affection for this species only deepens with time. I've met and spoken with legendary fishing personalities Roland Martin and Hank Parker Jr and both have indicated similar respect for this ancient species in conversation and in brief moments on shows throughout the years. I only wish other bass fishermen, who have regarded these men as icons for decades, would inherit similar respect. I hope it won't be decades before another fin and I cross paths.
Captain Kirk the Gar Hunter


Cap'n Kirk Reminisces

When I was a 10 year old, my family started visiting the Town Farm Bay area on the Vermont side of Lake Champlain; a 100 plus mile- long glacially formed 1,000,000 plus -acre lake which forms part of the border between Vermont and NY. As kids in the late 20's, their father had summered with them there and this was a renewal of an old tie. For some reason, we began to fish, along with our other summer stuff, and that involved asking the locals about spots and renting the customary resort 12ft Alumacraft boat - warts and all. We were told to try for northern pike, bass, pickerel, perch and other fish amongst the dozens of species indigenous to the lake and we soon found ourselves spending most of our time on large flat weedy bays off the mouths of creeks that resembled the everglades-channels surrounded by walls of marsh grass, and permeated with openings, channels, trails and numerous wood cover consisting of abandoned duck blinds. At first we caught some pike off the shoreline still fishing, then in the weedy bays off the creeks. My father then became more adventurous as we began to probe areas along the creek channel and fished the pockets in the marsh. To our dismay, as we questioned locals, we found that big pike spawned in the creek and left after that had been accomplished and that it had produced in the previous decades but no longer held big fish. An occasional largemouth caused us to stay however.

I recall a late summer day maybe 40 yrs ago, when my dad's bobber disappeared in the pocket back in the weeds where he'd cast it. After a brief fight on heavy mono line, we netted a huge clump of weeds with a strange dark fish with a mouthful of sharp teeth. Our host at the motor court identified it as a bowfin and said it was prehistoric and that nobody bothered with them.

In the summers to follow, as I finally gained the privilege of going out alone, I began to look for these fish in the numerous pockets in the marshes lining the creek mouth. One morning in particular typified my early experiences with bowfin. I arrived at the creek mouth shortly after dawn, and rowed back into an opening in the marshes perhaps 60 ft in diameter. The water was dead calm and about 4 ft deep and I began to see the wakes of fish cruising in and out of the pocket. I baited up with a chub and cast to one of them. The dark shape with the continuous dorsal fin turned, swirled, inhaled the bait and headed back into the weeds. I set the hook, watched the drag peel out line and was promptly busted off (8 lb test). I dropped that rod, picked up another and cast to another fish with similar shattering results. I eventually went through 9 rods, my three, my dads 3, and my uncles three and was successful in landing only one fish of about 5 lbs. The last available unused rod was dads pride and joy, a Garcia Ambassadeur 5000 with 15lb test, which promptly backlashed due to my inexperience. As I was attempting to unravel the birds nest, another dark shape shot out of the weeds, grabbed the chub off the bottom and again barreled for the weeds. I had to cut the line to avoid having the glass rod break or worse... Defeated, I rowed out to open water and began the task of retying all the broken lines, so that no one back at camp would be any the wiser.... I vowed this would never happen again, at least not this much.

Following this rude introduction, I began to gear up with heavier lines, specialized hooks, steel leaders and reels which would enable me to pitch into pockets with precision on fish I had spotted. Relatives soon began to accompany us and their kids, my cousins, and their friends from school all brought home tales of these fish to their respective NJ communities. We became friends with vacationers who owned and summered on nearby islands, and had done so for decades, and their kids began to go finnin' and subsequently passed it on to their kids in the intervening 30 yrs.

My uncle, who caught more than his share of large bowfin, passed on in 1997. His ashes were spread close by the duck blind where he'd caught his first fish in 1963. My dad passed away in 2001, and whenever I get back to Lake Champlain, his ashes will be spread near the spot where he began my introduction over 40 yrs ago. My son, 25, has heard the tales and insists that we go there...soon...before something alters this remarkable fishery.
And so it goes ...

CaptainKirk


May 2004, Panton Dam

2004 - May 04th Tues. From 06:30 to 14:45
My neighbor and I went fishing together to Panton Dam. It was cold with an air temperature of around low 30's, overcast and slight WNW wind.

At 07:10, I cast my 30lb mono line with a #4 Eagle Claw bait holder hook with three night crawlers on it into the shallow, slow moving current below the dam, next to the wall and just fished off bottom. A few seconds later, I see my line move. I set the hook and started to reel in and I thought it was a small carp, no big deal. All of a sudden ZEEEEEE, my line was being pulled and the drag was zinging so fast I then pulled up a big bowfin. It was a female. I was shocked but very excited. My gut had a sick feeling. I didn't want to loose this fish, so I grabbed the net and tried to reel her in. Every time I would reel her in, she would zing out away from me and do a powerful circular-motion, tail-dancing, head-shaking run. She made several power runs before I got the net in the water, reeled her over the net and then lifted the net. She was 29" long, 14" girth and weighed 7.12 Pounds. Her back was a dark olive drab (more of a green than brown) fading down the sides into a maple frosting color. I didn't see any signs of eggs. I thought that she should have weighed more than what she did for her length and girth? All of the edges of her fins along with her front upper and lower jaw were sore and red. Her belly was lightly sore looking but not bad at all.

Because I caught a bowfin, I was very shocked. When I checked the water, it said 59 degrees. When I checked the air temperature, it was 50 degrees.

I put on a #2 eagle claw 2X strong treble directly to the 30lb mono and put a night crawler on it. I then put a #4 split shot just above the hook on the line. I added the weight because there's slight current, just enough to move your bait without weight. I then dangled it down below me in the slight current and moved it real slow ( a jigging and fluttering effect ).

At 12:10 all of a sudden, BAM, I felt something load up. ZEEEEEE I managed to raise a big brightly colored male. He had bright green, neon yellow and some orange on him. Every time I would try to net him he would do his acrobatic, head shaking, tail dancing, circular power run. After several attempts I finally dipped the net in, reeled him over it and lifted the net. What a relief. He was 26 1/4" long, 11" girth, and weighed 05.02 pounds.

Realizing I don't need to cast far anymore I retie a #4 hook back on my line. I also put a #4 split shot next to the hook to keep it still. I put three night crawlers on my hook. At 14:15 I went on top of the dam and dropped it below me and worked it reel slow (a jigging and fluttering effect), often I paused. I only did this technique for a minute when all of a sudden BAM. I felt a strong impact and pull simultaneously. I reeled up and raised a brightly colored male. He was bright green, neon yellow and with some orange. I fought him while making my way down the dam. Jeff grabbed my net and got into position and it took me several attempts to reel him in . This bowfin almost was tail dancing while shaking his head in a circular power run. He was 23 1/2" Long, 10 1/4" Girth and weighed 03.12 pounds.

Roughly fifteen to twenty minutes later Jeff using a foam bobber with a night crawler about fifteen inches below hooked a big male bowfin. I could see the bright green, neon yellow and some orange as well. Jeff's bowfin was 23 1/2" long, 10" girth and weighed 03.12 pounds.
TroyH, 05/04/04


April 2003, Panton Dam

Troy H and a real beaut - a 27-3/4", 6Lb-13Oz female caught 4/30/03 at Panton Dam VT.


2002, Town Farm Bay

The Cap'n Kirk Collection. The 60's - Vietnam, hippies, Hendrix, and ... Bowfin! Long before Bowfin and C&R were popular, Kirk was targeting fins for catch and release on Vermont's Lake Champlain

Kirk's cousin Dana and a huge Champlain fin


Lake Champlain: Cap'n Kirk's Early Days

Comments: A cool concept and one long overdue in the world of "conventional" fishing. Began targeting bowfin in Lk. Champlain (Vt.) 40 yrs ago and began to defend the fish and practice C&R then, to the amazement of the locals, who spent most of their time chasing walleye and panfish...

Gar are merely more convenient now in terms of travel time/logistics for me here in metro Atlanta. Most bowfin are more than an hour away but they do beckon once again.

My only stories or half stories:In August 1968 during my 1 day fling at bowfishing, I drifted over a bowfinin 3 feet of clear water that I estimated to be 15 lbs. It was idling 3 feet away from a carp of about 30lbs, both sitting pretty as you please as if engaged in a conversation,,," Rough fish style". In August of 1974, while on my spot I spotted a huge Bowfin, again in 3 feet of clear water in a pocket in the weeds. I estimated the fish at over 20lbs, cast to it with new 20lb test, hooked up and was busted off after several minutes. It would have been a world record for maybe one year.

I should mention one pretty reliable rumor I encountered in the mid-1980's locally, to wit:
A metro Atlanta angler was supposed to have landed a bowfin from West Point Lake ( on the Ga/ALA border) which was in excess of 30lbs.. At the time I neglected to clip the article from the newspaper. The fish was supposedly taken to the angler's home in Jonesboro, Ga. and discarded.
Good finnin'
CptKirk the Gar Hunter

PS. Another neat item came along while I was viewing a BASS tournament several years back on Lk. Champlain. Here was the eventual tournament winner, the legendary Roland Martin, pitching the weed pockets as I had done back in 1962, then raving, along with nearly every other famous angler present, about what a killer lake Lk. Champlain is. Occasionally working that pattern in those bygone days, while targeting bowfin, a lunker b@$$ (the most sought after game fish in America) wound up in the boat.....suprise!!! suprise!!! and icing on the cake. Thanks for affording this ancient and vital species the respect and recognition it deserves.
CaptKirk the Gar Hunter


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