David Souza of Berkley, age 54, caught an 8 lb. 1 oz. Bowfin out of the Taunton River to break the state record. Just two days later, his son, Jake Souza, age 19, caught another 8 lb. 1 oz. Bowfin out of the same river to tie his father for the state record. David’s catch was 27 3/8″ long with a 13″ girth, while Jake’s was 26 ¾” long with a 13 ¾” girth. Both fish were brought to a MassWildlife office where they weighed in at 8 lb. 1 oz. and were certified by fisheries biologists as the new state records. Catch and Keep State Records are recorded by weight.
In 2015, Bowfin were added as an eligible fish to MassWildlife’s Freshwater Sportfishing Awards Program. Most Massachusetts anglers have never caught one of these prehistoric battlers – and in fact many anglers have never even heard of this fish and wouldn’t know one if they caught one. But the Bowfin is gathering an increasing number of fans who admire its outstanding fighting qualities, exotic appearance, large potential size, interesting life history, and its propensity to strike baits and lures. Currently, Bowfin populations are limited to the Connecticut River and Taunton River drainages and a few isolated ponds throughout the state.
The minimum weight is 6 pounds for adults and 4 pounds for youth to be eligible for the Catch and Keep category of the Sportfishing Awards Program. The Catch and Release minimum length is 26 inches. To learn more about Bowfin, check out a recent featured article in Massachusetts Wildlife magazine entitled, “Bring on the Bowfin!”.
Anglers who believe they have broken a state record by weight must present their fish in its entirety (whole) to qualified fisheries personnel at MassWildlife Field Headquarters in Westborough or at any of the five MassWildlife District offices. In 2015, a catch and release category was added to the Sportfishing Awards Program. Since then, MassWildlife has also recorded catch and release state records. Anglers may submit their catch and release catches for consideration by measuring, photographing, and releasing their fish on site.