How to Catch Bowfin
What's not to like about them?? They get Big, they fight hard, they sometimes jump, they are fairly easy to catch once you figure them out and they are tackle busters. Come under gunned and they will leave you with your head hanging. A True Sportfish they are.
So where do you find Bowfin? Check out the map below. 2/3rds of the Eastern US is Prime Bowfin habitat.
What surprises me about this map is how little Bowfin range in Texas. I actually feel sorry for people who live outside of where Bowfin Range !
Here is a map courtesy of usgs.gov
I caught my first ever Bowfin way back in 1982 on the then New Jordan Lake when she was only a 1yr old lake. This 4 lb bowfin smashed a chartreuse Snagless Sally I was throwing for bass and I was forever hooked. Now, some years my fishing for them wanes while I pursue other species but I always keep coming back to the incredible Bowfin. I have caught them up to near 14 lbs but most are going to be 4-7 lbs with a occasional 8-10 lber thrown in.
One place I fish for them is the Neuse River in Eastern N.C. Down there it is a medium sized river that has some Cypress trees but to get into the really good bowfin water there you need to go into a feeder creek that is full of Cypress trees and back water areas, Here the Bowfin is King.
So, remember backwaters, sluggish areas, beaverponds, etc.
Some days you can even see Bowfin gulping air as they can breath air so if you see them doing this just know you are in a good spot.
So what kind of tackle do you use for Bowfins? Any reel that can be used for Bass fishing can be used for Bowfins but usually I go a little heavier. If I am truely Bowfin fishing I use at least 50 lb braid or 20 lb mono.
Tactics- Bait or Lures
Bait- The best way to catch Bowfin is to put a piece of cutbait on a Carolina rig using a 2 oz sinker and a 3-4/0 Gamagatsu J hook. The next best way is to float a minnow, shiner or very small bream 1-2 ' under a cork.
Lures- IMO the best lure for Bowfins are a 3/8 oz spinnerbait with tandem blades black in color. Chartreuse and white work also. Always use a trailer hook and this is a Bowfin getter for sure. Other good lures are a Chartreuse Snagless Sally, Floating Yellow Worms ( Haw River Tackle Floating Worms are the best ) and Pink Senkos Wacky Rigged. Truth be known they will hit any bass lure but the ones listed are the best IMHO.
Also Note the Fish Gripper in every picture . This is a MUST when targeting Bowfins
Here are a few videos I have on Bowfin on my YOUTUBE Channel
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THANKS ! MACK
North carolina fishing