Back to Previous Page



  • Scientific Name: Amia calva
  • Found in Illinois: Statewide
  • State Average: 21.2"
  • State Record: Hook & Line: 16 lbs/6 oz (1984, 1992); Bowfishing: 14 lbs/1.1 oz (2021)
  • Best Lures: Crankbait, spinnerbait, plastic worms, live minnows or cutbait

Angling Tips:

Bowfin will strike hard and are considered tough fighters, yet they are generally considered a trash fish, perhaps due to their reputation as a poor-quality eating fish. They generally strike on live or cut fishes and will give a powerful fight when hooked. Large bowfin have very sharp teeth and will struggle out of water, so should be handled carefully.

Habitat: Bowfin are found in the slower water of rivers and streams, often hanging in areas below the faster waters. They can also be found in ponds and lakes among the weeds and undercuts.

Feeding and Habits: The Bowfin is an ambush predator that readily preys on a broad variety of arthropod and vertebrates, from insects and crawfish to other fish and frogs.

Reproduction: The male bowfin exhibits extensive parental care. The male clears an area in the mud for the female to lay her eggs and then fertilizes them. He hovers nearby and aggressively protects the eggs and the fry after they emerge.