How to catch a Bowfin on Lake Champlain

Outdoor Sports

Learn how to catch a fish that survived extinction

Have you ever tried to catch a living fossil? That’s exactly what a Bowfin fish is. The Bowfin survived extinction.

Vermont Fish & Wildlife Fisheries Biologist Shawn Good has mastered what it takes to catch a Bowfin in Lake Champlain.

The Bowfin fish lived alongside dinosaurs and haven’t changed since the cretaceous period. Shawn Good showed us how to catch one ourselves.

“Basically what you want to do is to go into an area that’s fairly wheaty but with some open pockets around the vegetation and you want to set your line out into one of those open areas close to the weeds. That’s where the Bowfin live” said Good.

Once your line is set and the Bowfin smell the bait, they attack quickly. The Bowfin is one of the toughest and most aggressive fish in Vermont.

Shawn caught two Bowfin on our trip fishing. It’s easier with two people because one can net the fish while the other is reeling the fighting fish.

“I’m shaking, that’s what Bowfin fishing is all about. It’s like hand to hand combat. You’re in close quarters, you see the fish kind of swirl. You toss your bait in there and immediately see your bobber go down. It’s so much fun” said Good.

Shawn captured a Bowfin that measured 29 1/2 inches. One that qualified for trophy size.

Hot Summer days are the perfect time to target Bowfin, even though its a fish some anglers ignore.

“Bowfin is one of those species that is really not thought of in the anglers consciousness here in Vermont. As a worthy target for sport and recreational fishing” said Good.

Shawn encourages all Vermonters to learn more about the unique and diverse fish species on Lake Champlain, and how to catch them. Especially the under-appreciated Bowfin.

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