Don Keller caught a bowfin a week ago and had a question.
"I was fishing the Chain on [last] Sunday morning and landed this fish on a curly-tail grub while bass fishing. I am 99 percent certain that this is a bowfin and not a snakehead, but was interested in your take on it. I didn't have a tape/scale on me, but if I had to guesstimate I would put him around 28 inches/6.5 pounds."
Lake County fisheries biologist Frank Jakubicek emailed a response worth sharing:
"There's a bunch of bowfin in the Chain. The most "secure" way to differentiate a snakehead from a bowfin is to look at the anal fin. A bowfin has a lobed anal fish and a snakehead has a ribbon like anal fin. The poster [at the top] shows the difference.
No anal fin is shown in the picture this person took but it's a bowfin!
Other than the snakehead in Burnham harbor several years ago, I can't think of another instance of one being caught in the Wilds of Illinois. The Lake Michigan staff helped remove a pair of snakeheads from an elderly women's apartment in Hyde Park a bunch of years ago. Those fish were from an aquarium so don't count as official wild release snakeheads."