I hit a sweet place near my home last night for a bit after work. It was day 17 of my continuous fishing streak. I was hoping for some carp and they were there. I wasn't having a whole lot of luck with them unfortunately. Most of my good presentations were resulting in spooked fish. They were in pretty shallow water (less than a foot) and mudding. Lots of emergent weed growth too. And the water levels are getting very low.
I saw a fish and tossed at it. Initially I thought it was a carp but the way it moved I changed my opinion and knew I had a bowfin in front of me. The second presentation was willingly accepted by the dogfish. I had a 6 weight rod and 3X Mirage tippet and it tore off out in front of me taking with it a nasty gnarl of fly line (that desperately needs a cleaning!). I worked the knot out and got the fish to the bank after a good fight. It was a smaller male bowfin of about 3-4 pounds. Great fish and in full spawning dress.
Bowfin are not what most folks would call a good looking fish. Most of the time, especially the big females (sorry ladies), they are quite drab. A dark brown or olive hue is the color scheme, sometimes broken up with a latticework of darker colors. During the spawn the males get downright handsome.
Their fins turn a gorgeous turquoise color. Their sides and bellies develop an emerald green. The only time that I have seen either of these colors on fishes is in coral reef and other saltwater fish. The males also have an ocellus on their tail. Females will sometimes have it too, but the center of the males eyespot turns a bright orange and that gets more vibrant during the spawn.
The spawn is taking place right now. Expect to see males in their spawning dress until early July. I love this time of the year!