Welcome to episode #4 of the Deadly White Jig Fishing Challenge. In this edition, I’m going after some bows…not rainbows, mind you, but I’m talkin’ about the elusive bowfin, otherwise known as the dogfish, mudfish, mud pike, grinnel, and the swamp trout. Similar in appearance to the invasive northern snakehead, the bowfin is a prehistoric-looking fish that is native to North America and it’s the only living species remaining in its family. Its closest relatives only now appear as fossils that lived 180 million years ago.
Like gar and other fish that can be traced back to the Jurassic age, the bowfin is a bimodal breather and has the capacity to breathe both water and air. This unique ability enables them to survive out of water for long periods of time, which is a major reason why they’ve been able to survive since the days of the dinosaurs, along with the fact that bowfin can survive without food for many months!
Bowfin reside in the eastern regions of the United States, especially along the Mississippi River. They’re most commonly found in swamps, wetlands, and small tributaries along the big rivers systems, and they prefer bodies of water with little to no current and fairly clear water, as the bowfin is stealthy, apex predator, who typically hides in deeper water by day and moves into the shallows to feed in the evening. Much like the largemouth bass, bowfin are a highly camouflaged fish which hide in the shadows of thick cover in order to savagely ambush its prey, which includes crayfish, worms, large insects, frogs, and a wide variety of smaller fish, with gizzard shad, bluegill and other sunfish, and bullhead catfish as favorites. On average bowfin are 15 to 30 inches long and weigh around 1 to 5 pounds, but they can grow to as large as 20 pounds or slightly more. Add all this up, and you’ve got a most worthy fish for the Deadly White Jig Fishing Challenge!
I’m going after these fish with a 6wt flyrod, 8lb fluorocarbon tippet, a strike indicator to control the exact depth of my presentation, and I’m fishing my standard 1/64th ounce Deadly White Jig. So without further delay, let’s go stalk some bowfin with the fly rod!