Tag Archives: Bowfin

6-29-14 – Bowfun All Day

It seems like a yearly trip now that a buddy and I go up for a day to the islands on Lake Champlain and chase bowfin sun up to sun down. It is hard to beat their action!

After catching a dozen or so bluegill, pumpkinseed, and perch we headed for a sheltered bay trying to escape the high winds. With large octopus hooks tied on under medium bobbers, we chunked up our bait and send it out.

While the pattern that produced fish didn’t take long to establish, fine tuning it did. We found bowfin at all depths out to about the 9′ mark but they were very loyal to weeds and wood. Especially where the two were abundant. As we worked the shoreline, any indent in the shoreline with duck weed, wood, and at least a foot of water was stacked up with multiple fish

Going spot to spot, we found that some were better than others. In many cases, we were getting bites every cast when they were placed correctly but the sweet spots were very specific. Hooking up with 10-15 fish per spot was common but as usual, we seemed to lose quite a few. Luckily the numbers of fish put the odds in our favor!

After we worked over the entire area over, we decided to change up species and hit some bass waters. Although they were mostly unproductive, we located a few spots with some pumpkinseed and bluegill still sitting on beds. To pass the time until heading home, we posted up and casted out some bobbers for some hot action.

It was a great day on the water with many fish over 26″.  If not again this year, we will certainly be back next summer!



8-11-13 – Bowfin Blast On Lake Champlain

It was one of those days to try something new. I fished with a buddy from work with intentions of targeting bowfin and pike. We weren’t on the water until about 7:30 but it was going to be a nice day. Temps were in the mid 70’s, no clouds were suppose to be present until later in the day, and  a south wind in the single digits. Although the wind forecast was slightly off, it was a great day to be out.

As soon as we launched the boat, we got right to catching bait. We picked up several perch and bluegills in a few minutes and motored to the first and only spot that we ended up targeting bowfin in. Watching the fish boil as we crept in because of the shallow water  tempted our patients. With our rods already rigged up we started cutting our bait into chunks.

Within our first few casts we both hooked up. We were fishing in 3-5′ of water with 3′ of line under our bobbers. It didn’t seem to matter what section of a fish we used. Sometimes they prefer the head while others they want the tail. With the bite that was going on, we were trying to conserve the few baitfish that we had so we cut them into thirds. Fish after fish, we keyed in on a sweet spot. Most casts resulted in a take after only a few seconds.

Usually one of the biggest problems with these fish is getting a hook into them because of their bony mouth. Today we planned on testing circle and treble hooks. To start the day, we both fished circle hooks with great success. Later on, my buddy switched over to trebles with equal success. Although we weren’t able to figure out which one worked better, the biggest factor in a hook up seemed to be the sequence of events leading up to striking. Our theory today was that after letting the fish run for a bit if you reeled up your slack and the fish felt you, you missed because it would spit it. If your timing was right and the hook was set with a foot or so of slack, hook ups were far greater. For me, when I felt I was nearing the end of my slack, I would stick my arm way out to try to get the maximum stoke on my set.

Our hot streak for bowfin ended shortly after noon so we decided to go after pike. We target the 10-12 foot contour which we figured would be the hot zone and would also allow us to pick up some bass. After a few hours of slow fishing, we gave up our quest for toothy fish and focused on panfish around the docks. We fished until just before dark and were content with the quality and quantity of fish that we put in the boat!

Check out Bowfin Blast On Lake Champlain on our YouTube page for more action!






7-11-12 – Shoreline Bowfin

Having never caught a bowfin, I jumped at the opportunity to go out for an evening. We left work shortly after 4 and made the trip up to the islands on Lake Champlain. After making a pit stop for a drink and worms, we arrived at our first location to find the parking lot vacant and the fish were rising.

Having never fished the area (or species), I relied on my fishing partners experience in the area for what to do. The setup was simple. I ran a size 2 treble hook attached to a steel leader under a large round bobber. The depth the bobber was set at depended on how tall and thick the weed growth was. On average we ran about two feet of line under the bobber. I was using my medium action 7′ St Croix Premier Series rod strung with 20 pound Power Pro Braided Line. I chose this rod mainly because of the line on the reel but also because it has a bit more backbone than the rest of my bass and panfish rods. If I continue to fish for bowfin, I will look into a slightly heavier rod as well as a other hook options.

The plan was to cast out some chicken fat to see if it perked any interest but fish for perch as back up. After a while of unsuccessful waiting, the fish continued to rise around us and frustration grew. We kept trying for perch as it is one of the few legal baitfish that doesn’t need to be bought in the state. It wasn’t an issue catching fish but perch eluded us for much of the time. The rockbass and pumpkinseed were plenty hungry! Once we caught a perch, it was on. I hooked up within the first minute!

On the ride up, I was told that when a bowfin takes the bait, the first strike will pull the bobber under quickly but it will pop right back up. After the initial hit it will pause then start running. The x-factor in fishing for bowfin (at least for us) was knowing how long to wait before setting the hook. Being that wasn’t going to eat the fish and preferred not to risk killing it just to better my odds for a hook up, I set the hook somewhat quick. Many times this method didn’t work out so well. I would let the fish run a good 20 yards before setting it but I was still only able to land one fish. I was able to get two other fish right to shore before they turned and spit the hook as I was trying tucker them out. I think next time I would try a circle hook or even an Eagle Claw Alaskan Hooks to see if my hook up ratio would improve.

The fish I did land was 28″ and between 7.5 – 8 pounds. As I was standing on the shore with a perch head out, I looked down and had the fish I ended up catching slowing cruising by only a few feet away! I reeled in my line, pitched it a few feet over its head and it was on. My bobber popped, paused, then took off. I set the hook and a few minutes later as we were landing my fish my buddy’s bobber took off. We ended up catching our only two bowfin of the night at the same time.

We could see the fish rising the majority of the time we were there but they slowed just before sunset. When we caught our fish it was right around 7 pm and the hour that followed would have been very successful if the hook sets we made had held. We had at least dozen decent opportunities over the course of about 3 hours as well as a few bites that were hit and runs.The fish that I hooked but wasn’t able to land were all battled for a few seconds before spitting the hook. I couldn’t figure out what I was doing wrong!

I’m looking forward to going again soon!

It was a nice evening of fishing!