Friday, April 1, 2016

The Bowfin Or Grindle.

Dating back to the Jurassic period, the Bowfin has swam the waters of what is now North America. Capable of putting up a fight that would lead one to believe that he'd caught a world record bass, the Bowfin is a thrill for anglers to hook, but is often considered a "trash fish" despite it all. The Bowfin is NOT a snakehead - very different fish, despite anatomically being similar in appearance.

The Bowfin


The Bowfin.

From an early age I'd learned to love stomping through the woods to see what I could see. I do not recall the age at which I got my first BB gun, but it was very early on. I bought my own shotgun at the age of twelve, and with money that I'd worked hard for too. My pre teen and earliest teenage years were spent, so far as I can recall, either running around with one of my late grandfather's or my dad; or stomping through wooded areas with a single shot twenty gauge shotgun. . . just to see what I could see.
So, as it happened, one day I was not far from what was then home, and as I was walking along the bank of a stream, some large fish leaped from the water close to the bank - and seemed to snarl at me, as if it were a sea monster. I thought that it looked like an eel.
There is no way to know, but I suppose that there is a good chance that what I'd seen was an example of The Bowfin,  a fish that had been the contemporary of the T-Rex, but also a contemporary of Todd Shaw.

The Bowfin and The Snakehead

America's Toughest Sport Fish, For The Past 100,000,000 Years!

The Bowfin is a tough catch. I've never caught one though - but despite the fact that most do not consider a Bowfin fillet as a good meal, lots of fishermen would LOVE to hook a five pound Bowfin, which would put up the same fight as a world record bass. You don't survive the eon's by being an easy catch, and fishing is largely about the thrill of the catch, the fight, and sometimes about lunch.
Watch yourself though, and take care - these ancient fish have many sharp teeth, and will continue to try to bite anyone who handles them long after brought out of the water. These fish also have the peculiar primitive lung, or "swim bladder" lined with blood vessels. It can practically breath on land.
So The Bowfin was a contemporary of the dinosaurs that once were, but The Bowfin is not the only fish that survives to this day that could have appeared on Sid and Marty Kroft's "Land Of The Lost," there are two more Genus of fish out there that live now, and lived during the Jurassic period, and these two are the Gar, also a native of Texas, and the Sturgeon, that great armored fish that is over fished and threatened for caviar. There are more than one species of Gar that I know of, and a quick check of Wikipedia tells me that there are at least 26 species of Sturgeon that still survive, but there is only one species of Bowfin still alive. Let's have some respect for the thing, shall we?

The Bowfin and the Snakehead

When someone encounters, or puts up the necessary fight, and reels in a Bowfin - if they are not aware of the Bowfin, then they could very well think that they'd caught a Snakehead. Snakeheads are in the news a whole lot these days, and most folks hate them. The Bowfin is a species of fish that is native to North America, and probably has been since the Jurassic period, and I'm not exaggerating either. The Bowfin has largely been unchanged since the time of the Jurassic period, but the tectonics of the plates and such have moved the North American continent around a bit since that time. The Snakehead is not a fish that is even remotely related to the Bowfin. The Snakehead is an invasive species of fish that wound up here, and is taking over in parts of the country - from Asia. The Snakehead and The Bowfin are so different that they aren't even in the same Genus, but  they resemble each other as a result of Convergent Evolution. Convergent evolution is the same process that caused a Marsupial like The Thylacine to resemble a mammal like the Dingo, or whichever breed of dog that you think that Thylacines, or "Tasmanian Tigers" looked like the most.
Besides the obvious differences in color between The Snakehead, and The Bowfin, the chief visual indicator of which is which is the long anal fin that The Snakehead features.  I'm told that The Snakehead isn't a bad tasting fish either.  To be perfectly honest here, I can seldom tell the difference in different fish from the tastes of their fillets.  Feel free to insert you own colorful pun, etc, if you wish, the laugh is on me.  If it's not Catfish, or Salmon, or Tuna steak - then it's all fish to me.


Anglers often refer to The Bowfin as a "trash fish," or an undesirable species of fish that just gets in the way of their bass, perch, catfish, and crappie - but I find that view to be entirely shortsighted, and ignorant. If someone here locally catches a Bowfin, then I want to eat it's fillet. It's disgusting to me that someone would enjoy the tremendous fight that the thing puts up in order to reel it in, and then just kill it. I know that once those little teeth are seen, then getting the hook and lure out of it's mouth. . . .probably isn't going to be much of a priority. In my own perfect world, people respect not only other people, they also respect animals, and this includes fish with teeth, and snakes too.
I'm acutely aware of how stupid most of us are when it comes to biology, ecology, and evolution. I live in a state where George W. Bush owns two houses, and the Governor, Rick Perry, can't admit that he's had innocent men executed - but most don't care, they just want to pay fewer taxes. I'm all for paying local and state taxes. It's the IRS, and my tax dollars going to the murder of little brown people in far away lands that I object to. I think we Texans should be paying HIGHER taxes for our schools, and just maybe our students will graduate knowing that the Texas ideal of censoring topics like anything about Thomas Jefferson, or the facts of evolution is complete and utter bullshit. Censorship is always based in prejudice and ignorance, and this is why we have the FIRST amendment to our Bill of Rights that protects our right to free speech. After all, does The Bowfin not tell us the facts of evolution all by itself?


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