After Turkey Season there’s another season and a rapidly growing sport, and that’s Bowfishing. Bowfishing is relatively new to many people, but it’s taking many parts of the country by storm, the cost is minimal and it’s fun!
Bowfishing doesn’t require much. The necessities include a bow, bowfishing arrow and some sort of reel and heavy line. For a bow, there are many different things you can do. A few companies make bows specifically for bowfishing, but most any bow will work. Use a bow that can take a beating as bowfishing can be rough on your equipment. Set your poundage low because it’s best to not have your max draw weight set for bowfishing as you will most likely be pulling back frequently, so you will need to be comfortable over time.
Stop by a local archery shop or retail store and pick up a decent bowfishing arrow as they are much heavier than hunting arrows and require a much different head. There is an assortment of heads on the market today, but the Cajun Warhead and Muzzy Gar Points are two of the best and are also available on Amazon.
Once you have your bow and arrow ready you will need a string for arrow retrieval. Get some heavy fishing line and a reel specifically designed bowfishing such as an AMS Bowfishing reel. All serve the same purpose of retrieving the arrow…and hopefully a fish, after a shot. Simply shoot and reel-in your fish.
Finding the Fish
First of all, check with your state’s fish and game department on which fish species are legal to shoot with a bow. Be sure you are shooting at ‘junk fish’ as game fish in many states are not legal to shoot with a bow and arrow!
One way to bowfish is by shore. Carp will spawn in shallow waters on weed lines making them very accessible from shore, so you can wade in the water or shoot from the shore. The best way to find carp is by scouting backwaters and simply watching and listening for splashes. In shallow water, carp will often make large V’s at the water’s surface while swimming and that also makes them easy to locate. Once you have found the fish, the fun begins!
During daylight hours, walk softly along the bank because carp are easily spooked, but generally don’t travel far. Wear darker colors of clothing. If you are cautious, you can get several shots into a group of fish working a weed line. When bowfishing during daylight hours, a good pair of polarized sunglasses will help you see the fish better through the water’s glare and allow you to recognize your target.
Aim Low, Shoot Lower
Once you locate the fish and are ready to start letting arrows fly, there is one very crucial point to remember, and that is “aim low and shoot lower”. Shooing an arrow into water is not as easy as you may think. When your arrow enters the water, it will begin to plane, causing many shooters to shoot well above their target. Keep practicing and shoot lower and you will catch on. On a nice sunny day, you can have an absolute blast walking a shoreline chasing carp, and when you start hitting your mark, you will be hooked.
From a Boat
Once you have become addicted to this incredible sport, you will want to see, and shoot more fish. While walking along the shore, you will find the fish often retreat to deeper water, and to successfully cut them off, you need a boat. Bow fishing from a boat completely changes the game. You have a higher view so you can see into the water better and the angle of your shot is higher, which causes less plane of your arrow, generally making shots a bit easier depending on the distance.
If you have a boat or a friend with a boat get it out and get ready for the time of your life.
For a boat, anything works. Flat bottom boats are a particular favorite for bow fishing since it allows you to travel in shallow water and have more of a platform to stand on to support your shots. It’s also a good idea to carry a push pole, an ore or have a trolling motor in the boat to make any depth of water accessible. Once you bowfish from a boat, your entire perspective will change.
There is one more thing you can do to top the charts for your bow fishing experience. This is the most effective way to bowfish and by far the most fun! Night fishing! At night with the light shining, you can see into the water much clearer and often much further. You will be shocked at the number of fish you come across! It is actually quite peaceful and unbelievably fun. Again, be sure to check with your state’s game and fish department on which fish are legal to shoot and any local laws for night fishing. Following the law is very important and you should know your regulations.
Bow fishing is a very simple and addictive sport. Check the web for local clubs and tournaments. Now is a great time to try your hand a bowfishing. The weather is starting to turn warm and water temperatures are rising, the big carp will begin pushing into the shallows. Let the games begin! Be safe, and shoot straight!