Bowfins, though often confused with the snakehead, are a native Delaware species.

The anal fin (long fin on bottom in front of tail) has a short and rounded shape like its pectoral fin (the fin closest to its head).

Bowfin Illustration by Duane Raver, Jr.
Season Open Year-Round
Size Limit No Size Limit
Daily Limit / Person No Limit
Delaware Range New Castle County
Abundance in Delaware Waters Uncommon
General Habitat and Food Preferences Bowfins prefer quiet, clear, backwater areas, lurking around aquatic weeds, in undercut banks, and around branches and other submerged structures.

Bowfins are predators that feed on small fishes and crayfish.
Did You Know? Bowfins have an air bladder, able to extract oxygen from air that is gulped at the water surface.

A prominent black spot (eye spot), which is surrounded by a yellow or orange ring, is sometimes located on the upper tail. This occurs more often in males.
Common Lures and Baits Almost any lure used for largemouth bass fishing (spinnerbaits, plastic worms, jigs, and topwater lures) will catch Bowfin.

Golden Shiners and minnows are common live baits.

Please return this uncommon native safely to the water.
Typical Sizes Caught Being a uncommon native species in our State, minimal information is available on recreational anglers catching Bowfin in Delaware.

Generally, Bowfin average lengths of 15 to 24 inches.
Citation Minimum Length and Weight Bowfins are not currently eligible for a Delaware Sport Fishing Tournament or Live Release award.
Delaware State Record Bowfins are not currently eligible for an individual Delaware record.