This bowfin strike is lightning fast!
One of the most interesting native fish in North America is the unique-looking bowfin. This species goes by many names, but most people know them as "dogfish," "mud pike," or "grinnel." Unfortunately, they have an unwarranted bad reputation as a "trash fish" with many anglers.
Which is too bad, because this prehistoric throwback is a living fossil that's been around since the time of the dinosaurs. For anglers looking for a real battle, it's hard to beat the head thrashing and hard runs of the bowfin. They are extremely aggressive fish and when you find a pattern on them, the action can be fast and furious.
Because they seem to hug close to the bottom much of the time, many anglers mistakenly think they are a sluggish species. However, they are perfectly adapted predators and are lightning quick when they do decide to attack. Case in point is this underwater video. This angler puts a camera on the bottom next to a live crayfish. The bowfin makes a slow approach to the bait, but once it decides to strike, we get to see the real speed of this fish. Don't blink or you might miss it.
One thing you cannot see in this video is the rows of razor-sharp teeth in the bowfin's mouth. They are somewhat hidden in the jaws and are hard to see. Don't try to lip this species if you catch one. More than one angler has learned that lesson the hard way!
One of the other cool things about this fish is that you can catch them on all the same lures that work for bass. Crayfish, minnows, and shad are a large part of the bowfin's diet.
When these fish decide to feed, they'll often aggressively attack anything you decide to throw at them. In many cases they will bite when all other species have developed a case of lockjaw.
If you're looking for a new challenge this spring, consider targeting the bowfin. You may find you have a new favorite species to target!
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