For these reasons, and the fact that I am a total fish species nerd, bowfin have been on my list for a while. They inhabit weedy, muddy, warm backwaters, making them a challenge to target with flies. But I never back down from a challenge. So today Noah and I rigged up the kayaks and went a huntin'.
Now, there are not a whole lot of places within a reasonable drive that have bowfin. In CT and MA there is very little out there about their existence, just faint rumblings in the bass community and the occasional forum post about them being caught through the ice in the Connecticut River. Since there are so few bodies of water that hold them I know I'm at risk by posting this at all. Fortunately, you have to be a massive idiot to waste valuable fishing time on a fish that is so damn uncommon when you could just fish for bass or pike. Luckily, I have two things: loads of time to fish, and no lack of fish nerdyness. In other words I'm willing to put up with some serious frustrations for some chance at a locally rare fish.
Did we catch bowfin today? No. Did we come close? Very! I had a number of takes that were unlike anything I had ever seen before and one I saw was plainly nothing but a bowfin. Noah had some highly suspicious takes as well. Bowfin have extremely hard mouths, making hooking them difficult... so at least we have something to blame it on.
I did catch a whole pile of fish. In fact, I caught just about everything BUT a bowfin. Largemouth, chain pickerel. pumpkinseed, crappie, even two BROOK TROUT came to hand. What an odd day. I caught two brook trout in a row on a huge chartreuse bunny leech in a muddy backwater inlet. And yet nothing toothy, brown, and capable of breathing air came to hand.
I'm coming for you, mudfish. This isn't over yet.