BOWFISHING BASICS: The first time

Chuck's on one!
Chuck’s on one!

I strapped the release onto my wrist and stepped up on the bow.  The slow moving channel that we were inching our way forward on was shallow enough to hold our target fish, but the cloudy day and slight breeze was making it tough to spot them.  We resorted to finding fins breaking the water, boils and watching for the telltale “V” that would appear and dart toward the river banks.   Finally, one of those V’s was coming our way, so I followed my instructions and gave it some lead…then WHOOSH!  The arrow splashed and the water erupted with angry scales.  I’d shot my first carp.

Stuck!
Stuck!

After conducting a couple interviews revolving around the trendy bowfishing subject, I began to have the itch.  I got to hear about 48lb and 55lb carp being taken and started to dream about leaning over the water, staring down one of those monsters at full draw.   Since I started deer hunting with a stick and string a few years back, I’m convinced that I need to do everything with it.   Yesterday,  I added another species to the list.

This week on MNSJ Radio, Brian Petschl from Land of Lakes Bowfishing Association talks about what you need to know about getting into the sport.  We talk a bit about gear, but more importantly: ethics.  A couple things you need to be aware of, like proper fish disposal, following boating regulations and being respectful to residents living on the body of water.  If you’re fishing at night, keep your volume low and the language family friendly, as you never know who might be listening nearby.   Brian is the president of LLBA, so he’s the expert on this subject and he’ll go into more detail about what we all need to know on this week’s show.  Find a station here. 

Bounced this one right over his back.
Bounced this one right over his back.

It took me a couple of near misses to get accustomed to the bow.  I was fishing with Chuck Ellingson, (Who will also be on this week’s show) and using his equipment.  We traded off and he went first, quickly putting one through the back of an unlucky carp who wandered a bit too close to our boat.  Before I was able to suit up, Chuck needed to get back in the boat-you see we’d drifted a bit off course and found ourselves up on a mud flat.  So we’d need a push and he’ll need new socks.

He's gonna need new socks.
He’s gonna need new socks.

Finally I found myself looking down into the murky water, straining to see swimming bulls-eyes.  My first shot went over the back, my next was too low, then finally I had the range dialed in, but missed in front and behind.  I’d never shot a bow without a sight before and this bow was a bit short on me anyway.  My instructions had been to aim low to account for refraction and give them a good lead if they’re moving.  I’d hoped to find one dumb to sit still for me and I did, but missed.  Finally that “V” appeared and I connected with an “instinctive” shot.  I may have let out a bit of a whoop and holler, but I get excited easy.

I guess we needed a little push.
I guess we needed a little push.

We only put one more fish in the boat, but the trip was more of an opportunity to get the rust knocked off and make sure the boat was ready for summer. Conditions were tough and we had another monsoon looming.

We found a little mud.
We found a little mud.

If the rain holds off enough today, we’ll get back in and see if we can invade the turf of these invasive species some more!

Got him!
Got him!
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2 comments

  1. We’re lucky that the lakes around us are mostly clear when we bowfish. The marsh I hunt ducks and geese on is super murky, and if I were to bowfish there, we’d had to aim for dorsal fins, but we haven’t tried yet. The low water levels last year made every catfish and carp in there look like Jaws. We tried to bowfish last weekend, but the fish were all in 8+ feet of water, and the refraction at that point makes it tough. Funny that your bow is too short on you- mine’s too big 😛 I draw it and I can rest my thumb on the back of my head.

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