Bowfin-Mysterious Menace - NC Angler Fishing Articles

Article: Bowfin-Mysterious Menace

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    Bowfin-Mysterious Menace
    by Tony Liddle

    Until recently I never really put much thought into all of the dogfish that I have caught over the years of hunting bass & panfish. While fishing with the great Eric Allee recently, I asked him, “Eric, what were you referring to when you used the word "bowfin"?” We agreed that he was talking about what I call Dogfish. People may call this interesting breed other names, such as grinnel, blackfish, brindle, mud fish, shoe pike, cypress bass, cypress trout, choupique, scaly cat, bugle mouth bass, German bass, brindle fish, and many more.

    The Bowfin(Amia Calva) can be found throughout a good portion of the US east of the Mississippi. They run the entire Mississippi River to Canada, east to Florida, and up as far along the coast as New York, but are found primarily in sloughs & ponds on the Mississippi River, her tributaries, and backwaters. Bowfin is a prehistoric fish that dates back 180 million years.

    Dogfish have many unique characteristics that intrigue people today. One of the most amazing qualities they possess is their ability to breathe air. Yes, I said breathe air. Unlike most fish, bowfin use their swim bladder like a lung to grab oxygen from the air, when oxygen levels become low in the stagnant, muddy, and vegetation rich nonmoving backwaters. Another unique aspect of these fish is that when they first strike your bait it is a subtle bite, followed by a normal fight. Half way into the battle they turn aggressive & unforgiving. At this point you are fooled into believing you have the biggest Bass of your life, especially after landing a few largemouth prior to this encounter. Once the Bowfin breaks the surface, excitement turns into disappointment in a matter of seconds.

    Males make the nest, watch over the eggs and infant fish until they reach 4-8 inches. The small fish school up, and the male Dogfish protects them the whole time. Their powerful jaws hammer anything getting in the way of their youngsters...even humans at times. Males also have a shorter life span, and are smaller than the females.

    Bowfin, have large dorsal fins which extend a good portion of their back all the way to their tail. Their tail is paddle shaped, and allows for great swimming, maneuvering, and rolling, as well as fighting when they're on the end of your line. There is a dark circle at the top of the tail that resembles an eye. Coloration varies between normal times to spawning periods. When not in spawn, they are darker & olive color. Their belly is usually an off-white shade, while their fins are bright green. When they spawn, they get an almost fluorescent glow to them, which is pretty beautiful.

    Don’t let the description of exotic coloration fool you. These fish are still around today for a reason. Dogfish are tough and like to lie in most panfish and baitfish laden waters, which are prime honey holes for bass and panfish anglers. These fishermen are often fooled by the Bowfin's tremendous fight. Bowfin remind me of a cross between a beaver, snake, muskie, & catfish. They will eat almost any aquatic creature & strike at will when their nest or young are jeopardized. There’s a good chance that after landing a nice sized Bowfin your spinnerbait, or weapon of choice, has seen it’s last day in the water. Dogfish destroy anything that comes into contact with their mouths, fight harder than anything you’ve ever caught, and will tear some meat loose from your body if you’re not careful. Their head is large and flat at the top, consisting of a double skull of bone and cartilage. Their teeth are sharp & strong...handling these guys isn't an art...it takes brute force. As you're trying to retrieve your brand new spinnerbait, you realize that this is an extremely difficult challenge, if not an almost impossible task. Because of their bony, strong mouth the spinnerbait, head to hook is virtually destroyed. Dogfish are slimy and really strong...never hesitating to try to bite you at times. Placing the middle of your shoe behind their gills allows proper bait removal...without finger removal.

    The ongoing argument has always been, release or kill them. My Grandfather used to say, “you gotta slit their throats“. In my neck of the woods, common practice was crushing & throwing them onto the banks. Some anglers see dogfish as a threat to their gamefish ecosystem. I have not caught one in over 6 years, and now realize that they may actually be good for certain fisheries to thrive to their fullest, and avoid population stunting. After thinking about what I was taught, the manner in which I treated this creature of the mud, and reading some forums on bowfin, I realized this fish is famous and also unknown. Fishermen catch them all the time, never seeing or hearing of one before. Some enjoy the great battle they provide. To others they are delicacies, comparing the bowfin to crawfish, and snapping turtle. "Joy of Cooking" has recipes and diagrams on how to clean and fillet bowfin. The bowfin truly is an amazing fish once you sit back and look at it from both sides of the coin.
    http://www.fishinsecrets.com

    Tony Liddle grew along the banks of the Mississippi River, and became a warmwater fishing fanatic. He now lives in Colorado, and is an active contributor to Fishin' Secrets.

    http://www.fishinsecrets.com

    Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Tony_Liddle
    Author:
    Tony Liddle


Replies to Article: Bowfin-Mysterious Menace
  1. Join Date
    Apr 2008
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    86

    Default Re: Bowfin-Mysterious Menace

    I have always heard that Bowfin and Gar weed out weaker, sick and In general less healthy fish. In short they do play a role In keeping eco-systems healthy. I have never caught a Bowfin, but I have caught my share of Long Nose Gar. In my book there are not to many fish I consider a trash fish.

  2. Join Date
    Oct 2007
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    HUBERT
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    10,895

    Default Re: Bowfin-Mysterious Menace

    BOWFIN ARE AN AWESOME FIGHTING FISH AND ALL TOO OFTEN PEOPLE KILL THEM THINKING THEY DESTROY ALL OTHER FISH.
    I FISH FOR THEM AS OFTEN AS I CAN AND BELIEVE ME THEY ARE FUN AND CAN AND DO MAKE A BOREING DAY EXCITING.
    IGNORANCE OF THESE FISH WILL NOT KILL THEM OFF THEY HAVE CAME MANY MILLIONS OF YEARS AND STILL SURVIVE OUR IGNORANCE FOR KILLING THEM.
    red x angler and tarheelflyflinger for life -red drum its not an obssesion but a passion

  3. Join Date
    Mar 2005
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    205

    Default

    caught several large bowfin visiting my brother in illinois while fishing for walleyes. they fight hard and to my surprise there is a large following of people who love the taste of them. one german guy I met while fishing near waukegan couldn't thank me enough for some bowfin and carp we caught in between walleyes.