Captain Dee Kaminski holds up a big bowfin caught down in Florida. Photo: Captain Dee Kaminski
Captain Dee Kaminski holds up a big bowfin caught down in Florida.

Strange fish swim in the seas, lakes and rivers. Freaks of nature that can live over 100 years and grow close to 1,000 pounds. Weird spineless creatures covered in hard plates. Unusual aquatic animals that use electro-sensors to hunt microscopic prey. Horrifying monsters with bills, beaks, suckers and razor sharp teeth. Giants lurk in the dark, stagnant and toxic deep. We tracked down five of the wildest fish fearless anglers target. Chances are, one swims near you. Check out these freaks of fishing. Then gear up and go get one. If you dare.

A bony head and smooth, large scales armor the bowfin’s long and powerful body. Bowfin have a hard jaw full of sharp teeth. The fish are green, brown and yellow with an eye-spot on the tail.

Prehistoric Bowfin Facts


Mudfish, mud pike, dogfish, griddle, grinnel, cypress trout and choupique


Eastern United States, Ontario and Quebec.


Lowland rivers, swamps, canals, backwaters and brackish water.


Bowfin are the only surviving member of an order that thrived 250 million years ago. The fish can breath underwater and on land. The bowfin’s head is protected by bony plates including two external plates beneath the jaw.

Catch a Big Bowfin


Native Kayaks Pro Guide


Southeast Florida on deep marsh channels and river edges. Bowfin feed day and night, but don’t fish for them after dark because of the threat of alligators.


Cast and retrieve 1/8-ounce jig and softplastic snake or worm through channels or along a drop. Buzz a 1/16-ounce weedless soft plastic through lily pads and grass-choked shallows.


Land with a net and hold with fish-grips. Use needle-nose pliers to remove hooks.


The first time I caught a bowfin, I was fishing for largemouth bass in the Florida marshes with my good friend, Rod Salser. Rod had caught a bowfin in the same area earlier, so I copied his technique. I was working an area full of reeds and lily pads along a bank. I parked my kayak on some reeds and cast to the opposite bank. On the retrieve, a huge fish inhaled my Pro Snake. The fish made several hard runs before coming unhooked. I cast back to the same spot and the fish attacked again. The fish ran straight at my kayak and buried itself in the reeds I was sitting on. I couldn’t pull the bowfin out of the vegetation. Rod reached in and removed the fish from the grass. The 26-inch fish turned me onto bowfin, they are unlike anything else that swims.

Early Summer Issue2This article first appeared in the Early Summer 2015 issue of Kayak Angler magazine. For more great kayak fishing content, subscribe to Kayak Angler’s print editions and digital editions, download issues on your device or view this issue for free on your desktop here.


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