Yesterday I was fishing with my nephew Dan and his son Ryan, from the shore at Marl Lake, where I hooked into a Bowfin (aka Dogfish). Dan immediately categorized it as a Snakehead, the other Asian transplant that's frustrating anglers fishing US waterways and lakes. Due to the similarity in shape many people mistake one for the other. But their markings are distinctly different. For more info on Snakeheads and Bowfins click here.
The truth is Bowfin are native to Michigan waters and can be released. Although I have never tried them, they can be eaten (see link below for recipes).
Snakeheads are an invasive species and are not to be returned to the water (if you catch a Snakehead you should call the nearest DNR to report it). I have never caught a Snakehead in any of the waters around Houghton Lake or Higgins lake. Nor have I ever heard of anyone catching one.
The Bowfin can reach 32 inches in length, the Snakehead reaches about 15 inches. Both put up quite a fight and both feed on small panfish.
Although they prefer panfish, I have caught Bowfin with a piece of Nightcrawler on a small (1/16 oz) jighead. This is my usual setup for catching Sunfish, Bluegills, Perch and sometimes Bass, when fishing from the shoreline or boat. Look for them in shallow water areas of vegetation (reeds, Lilly pads, Cattails, etc). When one or more Bowfin show up, all other species of fish seems to disappear, so this could be a sign they're around.
For more information on fishing for Bowfin and some recipes check out Bowfins Angler Group.
Did you know you can purchase your fishing and hunting licenses ONLINE? I didn't until my nephews wife told me. Talk about teaching an old dog new tricks. For more info on Michigan E License click here.
Have a Happy 4th,