Amia Calva… bowfin… grinnel… mudfish, mud pike, dogfish, swamp trout, choupique…
Hearing this name for many immediately brings disgust and sometimes nausea, but I’m here to tell ya, you’d be pleasantly surprised at what this fish packs. Before cutting that line, read on to see this fish from another’s eyes… someone who’s grown up catching and cooking choupique, and always awaiting the next time he can get his hands on one.
The Bowfin, most commonly know around South Lousiana as Swamp Trout, or Choupique, is by far one of the most undervalued fish. But that’s no secret… most people turn up their noses with even the slightest mention of choup.. “hrrmp”. Anyone who’s ever hooked into one however, knows that they’re in for a fight, so those that enjoy fighting a fish, usually get a kick out of wrangling these old guys, but eating? Nah… most will cut the line once they realize they have one.
Targeting choupique isn’t all that hard either. Most freshwater bayous that feed into nearby lakes and river systems hold them. My father always told me, “the blacker the water, the better”, and it’s true. Black/Dark water means clean water for these bayous, and choupique definitely congregate here. Gear is also pretty simple. When I was younger, we used to put live crawfish or dead shrimp on a 4/0-5/0 hook, under a large stopper. Pop this hard and loud at an even clip, and wait for it to sink. Nowadays, I fish them like bass or reds… with either a worm on a wide gap hook, or with a spinner bait I normally use for redfish. Large Beetle Spins with swim baits are great for these. Much like reds, their mouths are tough, and having a strong hook like the ones on these redfish rigs really helps. Simply cast, and slowly retrieve. Preferred colors are black and chart, junebug, or tequila sunrise. Lastly, it helps to have 15# or higher line, with a good sturdy rod.