OTHER NAMES: mudfish, mud
pike, dogfish, grindle, blackfish, cotton fish, swamp bass, cypress trout.
RANGE: Found throughout Florida's
freshwater lakes and rivers.
HABITAT: Prefers swamps, sloughs and
pools, backwaters of lowland streams. Usually found near vegetation.
They live in warm, poorly oxygenated waters that are uninhabitable to
DESCRIPTION: The bowfin is the only
living representative of an ancient family of fishes. It has an
air-bladder which functions somewhat like a lung, and they are often
seen near the surface of the water gulping mouthfuls of air. They are
easily recognized by its flattened head; long, stout body; large mouth
full of small, sharp teeth; long dorsal fin that extends along most of
the back; and rounded tail. The pelvic fins are set far back on the
belly near the middle of the body and the pectoral fins are low on the
sides so that the overall appearance is one of three sets of fins in a
row; the pectorals behind the head, the pelvic near the mid-body, and
the anal fin near the tail. Also, two short tube-like barbells are
located near the nostrils. The body is olive-green above, shading to
pale yellow or cream on the belly. Several dark brown, horizontal bars
are often evident on the cheeks. Males have a dark spot with a bright
orange halo, on the upper part of the tail fin. The spot is absent or
inconspicuous on females.
SIZE: Growth is very rapid. Bowfin
may grow to over three feet long and weigh over 15 pounds.
RECORD : 19 pounds, caught in Lake Kissimmee in 1984.
FOOD VALUE: none, Flesh is soft,
jelly like and tastes strong.
GAME QUALITIES: Bowfin are caught
often by sport fishermen, but are considered nuisances. Many anglers
fishing for bass have been surprised to find that a bowfin has taken
TACKLE AND BAITS: While it will
strike topwater and deep-running artificial lures, it is most often caught in
the spring and early summer on minnows, worms, frogs, crayfish or cut
bait. It is an excellent fighter, better than some highly rated game
FISHING TECHNIQUES: Still Fishing;
Live Bait; Casting.