There are certain fish that spark fear and, sometimes, even hate. Sharks are a good example. We used to catch them from time to time when I was a teen, fishing with my buddies. We’d mistreat the fish and send them back into the deep to be eaten. It wasn’t until I started fishing here in Southern California and started to be plagued by sea lions that I appreciated the role that sharks play in the ecosystem.
The bowfin is a fish known by many names: grinnel, chopique, and mud pike, among others. Many anglers consider it a trash fish, but in this article from Fishing Tackle Retailer, author Joe Sills describes how he learned to appreciate this ancient fish.
We weren’t prepared for this.
The fish presently devouring a white and yellow Bandit crankbait was no bass. And we should have known it from the beginning—all of the warning signs were there.
A buddy and I had journeyed into the river bottoms just after a major flood. The water had only days earlier receded enough for roads to be opened back up; and it’s a well-known fact among anglers that strange creatures often make their way into oxbows during a flood.
Given the conditions, our choice of craft was especially poor: a leftover 1970′s era Boy Scout canoe. A few weeks ago I had spotted its aluminum husk hiding under a vine-covered peach tree on the family farm and decided to rig it into a free, portable adventure-mobile. Part of the stern was made from plywood and silver spray-paint.
Seconds earlier, a man-sized gar wallowed up to my paddle just to take a look before flashing his teeth and receding down below.
Now, we were in chaos as another monster spun our plywood stern around and headed for deeper water.
Photos: Fishing Headquarters (top); Fishing Tackle Retailer (above)