Bowfins go by many names, dogfish, mudfish, and Grinnell are just some of them. And yes, none of these names sounds nice. Add in the snake-like appearance and the smooth slimy body and you might just lose any interest in fishing for the day.
Bowfins are found in many different types of conditions from murky waters to rivers and lakes. When you finally get one grabbing onto your spinnerbait, the resulting experience is simply unforgettable. So make sure you have the best lures in your tackle box.
The reason dogfish look as they do is because they are an ancient fish that has been around even before the bass and another type of fish that we love to take from the rivers.
These are the bowfin fishing tips and tricks
Where to find bowfins
If you are wondering where and how to catch a bowfin, you can find dogfish from as far as Quebec all the way south to Florida. They are also found from Minnesota to Texas. These fish know how to survive and even while there have been measures to try and eradicate them, the population remains strong.
While planning to fish for bowfins, make sure you have the necessary tools packed in your fishing backpack.
Their availability shows the health of an underwater ecosystem. What this means is that the fact that they are found somewhere means that the water is healthy. And the great thing is that their numbers don’t affect the other game fish.
This is so even while you consider that they will eat anything they can fit into their mouths including other game fish. However, the fact that they will prey on game fish means that small and stunted fish will be removed from the population thus making the overall population of game fish healthier.
Due to the strength of the fish, you may want to use a fluorocarbon fishing line.
One of the reasons why a fisherman should try bowfin fishing is they can be caught in a variety of different ways. You can pretty much use any type of bait from bits of mackerel to frogs. Whatever you put on the line, the bow fish will try and eat it and they hit hard.
Once they take the bait, now the challenge becomes reeling one in.
Bowfins are not going to make it easy for the fisherman. They fight and they fight hard. One of the most fun ways of going after bowfins is by targeting them in shallow water. Sometimes the bowfin will be lazy and you have to tempt them into taking the bait by throwing it close to them. But once it’s in their mouth, get ready for a scrappy fight.
One thing you should always keep in mind is that the fish’s mouth is full of sharp teeth and they have plenty of clamping power. This is why you need a strong fishing line.
You should always use a strong hook. This allows the hook to penetrate the mouth cavity and to also remain pinned as the fish fights and struggles to break free. It also allows you to pull the fish from its hiding position.
Many fishermen looking to hook trout, walleye, or Muskie end up hooking a bowfin. This means that you can use the same type of fishing methods used for any of these three fish to capture a bowfin. This also means using Walleye lures, trout lures or Muskie lures. You can also use flies as well as any live or dead bait.
And while they are not going to be picky about what they put in their mouths, live or dead bait is certainly their favorite. You are still going to be successful whether or not you are using afloat.
Best types of bait
Now that we’ve established that bowfin love lives bait, the best of these are either nightcrawlers or crayfish. These are especially great to use when you are doing night stalking or still fishing. That said, any other type of small fish will do including minnows, bluegills, whitefish, or roach.
Since bowfins like to hang out in the shallows yet will still go for bait at the bottom, you can also try sending bait in clear water. A baitcasting rod will work just fine. Using locusts will certainly be plenty of fun.
How to catch and reel in bowfin
Now that you are aware of the best type of bait to use this is how to catch bowfin.
1. Use the reel to wind the line
This is the first step. Start by winding the spinning reel with your fishing line. Ensure you use a 25 to the 40-pound test line. A long line gives you plenty of space to fight the bowfin.
2. Add the fresh bait
Now add the fresh bait to the hook which could be minnows, crawfish, bluegills, or worms. Keep in mind that the bowfins will usually be hanging out under rocks and thick vegetation.
3. Cast the bait
This step will involve you dropping the fish inside the water and then trolling it at the bottom right past where you think the bowfins are hiding.
4. Landing the bowfin
As soon as you feel like the bait has been taken, twist your wrist to allow the hook to lodge itself in the mouth of the bowfin.
Next, be patient and begin to spin the baitcasting reel slowly. This will allow the fish to tire itself out making it easier for you to reel in until you get your fish.
If you were to try to reel in the bowfin fast, then the strong fish would probably break the line. Make sure that the fish is tired by the time you begin to seriously turn the reel.
These are the steps to follow on how to catch bowfin.
Can you eat bowfin?
Many anglers will go after bowfin simply for sport as it is not the most popular fish for eating. However, even with its unusual taste, you can still prepare bowfin if you like to.
Note that you will need to prepare it the right way. That said, you can be sure that it is safe to eat.
The mudfish has a bone structure that is very fine which means that you will probably want to fillet the fish using your fish fillet knife. Cut down the fillets but always avoid the area near the gut. This is where the unusual taste of the fish comes from.
Take the fillets and dip them in salty water. This will draw out the blood and the muddy taste. Having done this step, you can go ahead and pan fry your bowfin.
Understanding your prey
You will often do bowfin fishing in places where other fish will prefer to avoid. If a swamp that they are hanging out in dries, they will find thick vegetation and hide in it. They do this by inhaling an air bubble and holding it in their mouth.
In fact, mudfish can easily survive out of the water for about two months and no other fish has this ability. To meet their air requirements, they can also respire using their skin.
If you reeled in a mudfish then you must have seen it leave on its back. This increases the surface area through which they can absorb their air. It also rehydrates the upper surface.
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Mudfish has a fighting spirit which makes them a great choice for sport fishing. However, if you want to chop your catch-up and roast it on a pan, you can still do this.