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Q & A
Bowfin
Question
I enjoyed looking through the new Gallery of Fish with descriptions and additional information about the different species of fish in Pennsylvania. I have a question about Chapter 8's fish, Bowfin. I have been fishing Presque Isle Bay for many years and have never caught a Bowfin. On the other hand, we vacation for two weeks every August on Conneaut Lake, and in the last few years although fishing for Bass and Musky -- we caught more Bowfin than any other species. If they weren't so aggressive and hard striking, they would almost be a nuisance. We release all of them. However, two summers ago some of the bait shops in the area were telling people that the Fish and Boat Commission was asking fishermen to kill them when caught because they were crowding out other predatory game fish in the lake. Is this true?
Answer
Bowfin are a very unusual and unique fish in Pennsylvania. Your approach to these fish seems just about right.  The Fish and Boat Commission does not suggest that anglers kill them. In fact, bowfin are listed as a "candidate species," which means that anglers are strongly encouraged to return any fish caught to the waters from which they were taken.

bowfinIf any members of the Commission staff made comments about killing bowfin in the past, they were certainly not reflecting the views of our fisheries biologists.

In a couple of waters in Northwestern Pennsylvania, bowfin seem to have come on really strong in the past couple of years. This may reflect good reproductive success perhaps brought on by just the right environmental conditions.

Just as the PFBC does not advocate waste of bowfins, we do not want them to be released in waters outside the native range of this very unusual fish.

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