The Unheralded Beauty of the Swamp

With nicknames like mudfish and dogfish, the bowfin gets short changed in the PR department. They are strong fighters. They can grow to an impressive size. They are receptive to a variety of presentations. What is often overlooked is an attractive, actually colorful appearance.

This small male Bowfin (Amia calva) came to my Northkill net as #11 on the 2018 Fly Fishing List.

Considered a handsome fish year round by some, the beauty of the bowfin peaks during the spring spawning season.

The fins of the male bowfin take on a deep jade color that almost looks artificial.
Green highlights appear on the tail, and the orange rim of the ocellus glows like a beacon.
To compliment those bright colors, the reticulated pattern intensifies down the sides, tail, and dorsal fin. That’s a good looking fish!
A side benefit to bowfin fishing is the frequent bycatch of largemouth bass.


“The 2018 Fly Fishing List” so far:

  1. Brown Trout – Salmo trutta
  2. Brook Trout – Salvelinus fontinalis
  3. Rainbow Trout – Oncorhynchus mykiss
  4. Landlocked Atlantic Salmon – Salmo salar
  5. Creek Chub – Semotilus atromaculatus
  6. Northern Pike – Esox lucius
  7. Largemouth Bass – Micropterus salmoides
  8. Chain Pickerel – Esox niger
  9. Black Crappie – Poxomis nigromaculatis
  10. Bluegill – Lepomis macrochirus
  11. Bowfin – Amia calva