We usually catch Bowfin by sight casting to them. When we are fishing Fork in the Spring, we often see them in the creeks. They often cruise the weelines. The other place to look is right up against the shore, they often will lay up with their tail right against the bank and their head facing out.
In the summer you can often locate groups of them in the backs of creeks and coves by watching for them surface and gulp air. They have a proto-lung and can live in water with almost no dissolved Oxygen.
In either case, a white fly with a little bit of flash presented right in front of them will get them to strike. I save my flies that are getting a little beat up for bass to use for bowfin because the fly is usually shredded in the fight.
You are right, they fight like nothing else in freshwater. I have had them jump like a Tarpon sometimes. They will also try to bite ypu if you give them the chance.