An accomplished teen angler from Taunton reeled in a new state record after catching a 26-inch bowfin from the Taunton River last month.
Tauri Adamczyk, 16, caught the record-setting bowfin July 23, and had it certified by the Department of Fisheries and Wildlife in Westborough as the first of its kind in the state.
Adamczyk’s catch was officially measured at 26.5 inches long with a 14-inch girth, and weighed 7 pounds, 14 ounces.
While bowfin have resided in Massachusetts for decades, MassWildlife only recently added the fish to its Freshwater Sportfishing Awards Program, which features a list of 22 species for fishing enthusiasts to hunt throughout the state. The bowfin was added to the program in 2015, and has been an “open category” since then, according to MassWildlife project leader Richard Hartley.
“Other people have caught bowfin and gotten pins for them, but they haven’t taken the extra step to get them certified,” until now, Hartley said.
Anglers who catch and measure fish from a listed species and report their finds to MassWildlife receive bronze pins for their efforts, with gold pins awarded for hauling in the largest in a category.
Even before her record bowfin catch, Adamczyk was no stranger to the program or its awards. Hartley said she’s received more than 100 of the bronze pins and six gold pins over a 10-year youth angling career, and has successfully brought in 18 of the 22 fish on MassWildlife’s list.
Adamczyk was also the first-ever female youth Angler of the Year for bringing in the most species of gold pin fish in 2015.
“She really is a great advocate for this program,” Hartley said. “What she’s accomplished at 16 is pretty impressive.”
As for the bowfin, Hartley said Adamczyk’s catch could spark interest in the little-known prehistoric fish MassWildlife has described as “living fossils.”
“This has generated a lot of interest,” he said. “I’d suspect well see more of these come in.”
Despite the bowfin’s addition to the fishing program’s list and the first certification of the species in the state, hopeful bowfin hunters will be limited in their pursuit to follow up on Adamczyk’s catch. Hartley said the “eel-like” fish are found mainly in the Taunton and Connecticut rivers, along with ponds along their watersheds.
“They’re not a common fish,” he said. “They’re something different, they put up a good fight.
“It’s a very kind-of exotic-looking fish and really gets people attention.”
Hartley said the bowfin prefer “shallow weedy backwaters” and spend time tight to the bottom of waters in their range. Prospective bowfin seekers can target them in a similar way to catfish, and Hartley said Adamczyk caught hers using cut bait in Taunton.Ben Thompson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @Globe_Thompson