So, you have heard all about bowfishing and you are now interested in giving it a go. However, you don’t have a clue as to where or how to get started with it. Bowfishing is a very unique sport and is a bit related to both archery and fishing. It is a sport that can be done during the day or at night and on the land or in the water – either in a boat or while wading.
What You’ll Need
To get yourself started bowfishing, you need to make sure you have the right gear. Ultimately, a recurve bow is the best. It is a bit of a smaller bow, which makes it easier to manage. You won’t need a site due to refraction and it won’t help you with depth. Make sure that your bow can shoot at least 45 pounds or more. You also need a reel and bowfishing arrows. Bowfishing arrows are different than other hunting arrows, as they’re a little heavier, longer, have a barbed broadhead, and do not have fletchings.
Of course, you will also need a fishing license. *Just a Little Tip*
Because bowfishing arrows are always attached to the fishing line, you want to ensure that the line is never, ever tied to the back of the arrow. It always need to be attached to the slide, which is located near the front of the bowfishing arrow. If the line is tied to the back of the arrow, there is a good chance it will get tangled up in the bowstring. If this happens, the arrow may snap back at you, which will likely result in significant facial injuries and possibly even your death.
Bowfishing in the Day or at Night?
If you will be fishing in the day, you will want to ensure that you have a good pair of polarized sunglasses, some sunblock and maybe even a hat to help block that sun from your face. If fishing at night, bring a spotlight or a really good flashlight.
If Bowfishing While Wading in the Water…
Don’t forget your hip waders! The water can get pretty yucky and while you won’t be wearing your Calvin Klein jeans when you go bowfishing, you would probably like to stay somewhat clean and dry if you can.
The best time of year to bowfish while wading is during the spring. It’s a little bit warmer and the fish are usually spawning, which means they’re going to be easier to locate. The fish feel safest in the marsh where the grass is tall, so head to these areas.
If Bowfishing from Land…
Springtime is also a good time to bowfish from the bank. Again, this is for the same reasons as wading. Now, the best areas to bowfish from the bank include ponds, rivers and lakes that have shore access.
If Bowfishing from a Boat…
As a general rule, it is recommended that you use a flat-bottom boat. This will allow you to take the boat into much shallower water and give you the opportunity to get more fish since you can scavenge more waters.
Need Help Finding a Place to Bowfish?
If you can’t figure out where to bowfish, you can call your local DNR fishery. Let them know you are trying to locate a place you can fish with heavy concentrations of the fish you are looking to capture, such as catfish, carp, perch, gars, sucks, eels, etc. If you have a couple of places that you think mind be good, consider the water clarity and water depth. You need clear water and water that is three to four feet deep for ideal bowfishing.
Also, it may be a good idea to contact the local DNR office before going out on a bowfishing trip to find out about any fish advisories. After all, you don’t want to capture fish and get sick after cooking and eating it.
Freshwater or Saltwater Bowfishing?
If you decide to go freshwater bowfishing, then you will likely be going after fish like perch, carp, catfish, eels, gars, suckers, and possibly alligators if you’re brave enough. If you are saltwater bowfishing, your primary targets will likely be stingrays, sharks and dogfish. Ultimately, the exact fish that you go after will depend on the season, the area that you live in and the type of fish that is legal to hunt in your state and county. Therefore, check local regulations before heading out.
Once you are to your spot and get ready to start bowfishing, refraction may get the best of you. This is particularly true if you are a newbie. Refraction is when the light passes through the water and makes the fish appear in a different area of the water than what it actually is. In order to compensate for the deflection, you need to aim approximately 10 inches below where you see the fish. This is a general rule of thumb and you could have to adjust and you should be prepared to miss a few times before you finally strike a fish.
For all of your bowfishing gear and more bowfishing advice, check out Full Draw Archery.