There’s a plague in Bowfin Country, and I’m in quarantine. I have the fishing bug real bad this season. As a result, I’ve been fishing after work; yesterday I captured something exceptional on my little video camera. For years, I’ve been watching Ospreys descend from the sky and pull fish from nearby water. They’ll fall in a controlled flight, almost vertically at times, and gently pluck their prey from the surface. Yesterday, an Osprey made a stunning cameo while I was filming some fishing footage. You can see it at the 1:40 mark of this video:
In mid-March, the White Bass make a spawning run, and the Bowfin are generally mixed in with the schools. We launch to look for Bowfin but the White Bass are so aggressive they usually grab the lures before they reach the Bowfin.
I put a Camera mount on my Tarpon 120 and shot some footage as we locked into a school of White Bass in the lower Eno River last week. We landed about 40 small males before we moved on…..
It’s late February, a time for the Bowfin angler to remember the taste of defeat.Winter lulls the senses, and our memories of last year’s battles with fish dissipate – mercifully – with the cold. Yes, we recall the one that got away. It grows larger with each telling. But we forget how we lost it, and that defeat is often an angler’s fault.
Late winter Bowfin are experts in reminding us of our errors.
I will dedicate this blog post to a typical late winter event: the loss of a large fish from the end of the line. First, a few points about how to set a hook in a Bowfin’s bony mouth. Continue reading
Decorous Techniques: A Review of Largemouth Bass: An In-Fisherman Book of Strategies (1990)
Look at the photograph below. It was taken by Dr. Solomon David, a biologist at the renowned Shedd Aquarium. Dr. David is not a scientist to miss the significance of this grouping, which he caught with his eye and then his camera. The fact of the matter is that it represents something many bass anglers wouldn’t easily admit: the Bowfin (Amia calva), Largemouth Bass (Micropterus salmoides) and Spotted Gar (Lepisosteus oculatus) co-exist in the wild. They share waters where they are born, they share food they chase, and they share graves. And here they are, hanging out like three old friends. Very old friends (well, at least the Gar and Bowfin are).
Why the photo, you ask? I posted it because I’d never seen the Bowfin mentioned without scorn in a book about Largemouth Bass. If you listened to Bass anglers, many argue for the eradication of the Bowfin (to be fair, others secretly confess they prefer catching Bowfin, but they chase Bass for the money). Anti-Bowfin-scorn is simply inherited ignorance. And that is where Largemouth Bass: An In-Fisherman Book of Strategies stands apart from the crowd….
Kayak Fishing offers the advantage of stealth to the angler in the boat. A kayak can navigate water that a bass boat or even a john boat cannot enter without running aground or scaring fish – assuming the angler is quiet and controls the vessel. To fully enjoy a kayak as a fishing platform, an angler must be willing to explore, learn new techniques, have strong paddling skills and take safety precautions. For these reasons and others, kayak fishing has been my preferred style of fishing since 2011.
I was first introduced to the sport by an officer of the UNC Fishing Club who worked at a large kayak dealership in Greensboro, N.C. in 2008. I began to practice, seek out new waters and later, fish in tournaments (primarily for Largemouth Bass). Over the years, I’ve compiled a strong record in competition. Here are a few highlights:
I. Tournament Kayak Fishing Record
It was eight years ago this week, on a warm January day, that I landed the Bowfin in the photo below. I was recently arrived to the North Carolina Piedmont, and if you look closely, you will see that I’m wearing a hat from Lock 3 Bait & Tackle. It’s my favorite tackle shop on the lower Allegheny River, just down the road from where Rachel Carson was born and raised in Western Pennsylvania, and a little reminder of how anglers cling to the superstitions of their old haunts. That hat didn’t last much longer after I landed that Bowfin. It wasn’t because I gave up on the Allegheny – I still fish it about once every year – but because this fish marks a break in my life: there is before the Bowfin Era, and after. Continue reading
The Bowfin in Pennsylvania
The Bowfin and I first crossed paths in Western Pennsylvania. As such, the Bowfin’s precarious status in that region has always been first in my mind and I follow news about it and the region’s fisheries with great interest. The word of it my interest got around some years ago when the Pittsburgh Tribune Review called me in 2009, shortly after a Bowfin was caught near Pittsburgh, and I was featured in an article published on the event. Whether fishing the Three Rivers, reading in the local scientific history (as in Rafinesque’s Fishes of the Ohio), or simply speaking with regional writers and anglers, Pennsylvania’s listing of the Bowfin as an uncommon “candidate species” holds my unwavering attention. Its status in the Commonwealth’s game regulations is as unusual as the fish itself, and so far as I know, the Bowfin enjoys no comparable status in any other one of the 30 U.S. states the fish inhabits.
The Pennsylvania State Legislature is considering passage of a bill that would severely limit the Pennsylvania Fish & Boat Commission’s ability to list species as endangered or threatened. For example, the short-nosed sturgeon and spotted gar (the latter a common fish in the Allegheny River) are protected under current law. By ending the PFBC executive power to add or remove species from the endangered/threatened lists, the bill would have wide-ranging and perhaps devastating consequences with respect to how scientists manage the state’s fisheries. Stripped of certain scientific and legal protections, the state’s fishes and watersheds could further deteriorate in a state already besieged by the political and environmental consequences of hydrological fracturing for natural gas (a.k.a. “fracking”).
In addition to effectively placing the PFBC under the jurisdiction of a non-scientific entity, the bill also raises questions about the management of threatened/endangered species. Now, since the Bowfin is not listed as endangered or threatened, but instead is a “candidate” species, it is unclear how the bill would determine the fate of the Bowfin and other candidate species. I will keep readers posted as I follow the story, and encourage everyone – and not only the citizens of the Commonwealth – to let the legislators in Harrisburg hear their opinion of this proposed bill.
For more on the matter, please read the following link, which contains also links to the text of the bill.
For more about the Bowfin as “candidate” species, click here:http://fishandboat.com/images/pages/qa/fish/bowfin.htm
For differences between Bowfin, Burbot and invasive Snakehead in Pennsylvania, see: http://www.fish.state.pa.us/water/fish/snakehead/snakehead.htm