Lisa’s Corner – Bowfishing

Is there anything better to do in the summer besides fishing? Yep! It’s called bow fishing!! A much looked over, and growing popularity sport. Most people, just attach a bow fishing kit, (purchased at hunting stores) and attach it to their hunting bow.
Not me!! I chose to buy a PSE tidal wave, made ONLY for bow fishing! Many reasons led me to this decision, (besides the fact it’s another excuse to own another bow!!) When you go bow fishing, your bow WILL get wet. Also, my draw weight is set much less for bow fishing, as comparable to my hunting bow. Which makes it a lot easier, to shoot with all day/night.
Although varies state by state, where I live in Colorado, you only need a fishing license! You must do your homework, before thinking you can go to any local lake or reservoir to go bow fishing. Only some allow it, and–added to that; the laws on which fish you can shoot, vary state to state, also. Although varies, here in Colorado, we can bow fish carp and pike. Carp is one of the most un popular types of fish. With there only being about ten lakes in all of Colorado that allow bow fishing, when I do go, I pass many fishermen with bows! It’s SO awesome! Of course, I’m always the only girl, just another way to show up the boys!
You can bowfish in freshwater, (lakes, rivers or ponds) and saltwater (bays, beaches or estuaries). But whatever body of water you choose, you’ll typically fish in clear, shallow areas 3 to 4 feet deep (0.9 to 1.2 meters) for a few reasons. First, the fish that you can hunt by bowfishing tend to hang out in shallow waters. Second, water is dense and slows arrows down; the less water that your arrow has to traverse, the more force it will have when it strikes the target.
If you prefer daylight during your bowfishing trips, you’ll want to head out in the spring around spawning time. Nighttime bowfishing, however, can be done at any time, although again you’ll probably have the best luck in spring around spawning time and in fall when water is clear. If you’re bent on big fish, plan to bowfish during the spring and summer when they’re most active (day or evening). Evening bow fishing, I recommend having lights on your boat. Also, an anchor. Night bow fishing, is some of the most fun fishing you will ever have!!
So, how do you bowfish? You should hunt around the shallow water for your target fish, especially near grasses and weeds that provide cover. That’s where I always find them. Ideally, you want to be about 10 to 15 feet (3.0 to 4.6 meters) from your target. Try to avoid casting a shadow over the fish because that will spook the fish. You also may want to approach it from upwind.
When you choose your target fish, aim your bow and shoot. However, there is a trick to aiming the bow. As light travels from one medium into another, it bends or refracts, so the fish that you see from the surface is actually the refracted image of the fish in the water (apparent fish). The actual fish is deeper in the water than the apparent fish. If you aim straight at the apparent image you’ll miss (or go high). That’s why bow fishermen/women always say to aim low. Exactly how low you aim is part of your hunting skills. Here are a few rules bowfishermen/women may use to help them compensate for refraction:
  • The 10-4 rule: If the fish is 10 feet (3 meters) away and 1 foot (30 centimeters) below the surface, then aim 4 inches (10 centimeters) low. If you double either the 10 or the one, then double the four. For example, you would aim 8 inches (20 centimeters) low for a fish that’s either 20 feet (6 meters) away and 1 foot deep or 10 feet away and 2 feet (60 centimeters) deep.
  • Aim about 6 inches (15 centimeters) low for every 1 foot of depth.
  • Look at the fish and aim 10 inches (25 centimeters) low.
When you shoot at a fish, aim for the front half. This portion contains the brain and vital organs, so you will most likely kill the fish. Also, remember that fish swim fast in the water, so you don’t have much time to aim and shoot. (I almost always have my bow pulled back and ready to shoot, which is why I mentioned having a lighter draw bow fishing, then hunting.) Also, some large fish, like alligator gars, may take more than one arrow to kill them. Once you’ve struck the fish, haul in the line; which is harder than it looks, to reel in the fish once you’ve shot it! Majority of the time, I will set down my bow and slowly just pull the line into the boat, or shore. Unlike rod and reel fishing, bowfishing kills the target fish and doesn’t allow catch and release. I always take a trash bag or can with me, or cooler. It’s not good etiquette to just leave your shot fish on shore. Always remember, to set a good example for other fishers, and practice makes perfect!
Thank you for taking time to read my bowfishing article. Now what are you waiting for?! Get out there and bow fish!!!

May 31, 2015 | Category: Blog, Bowhunting, Fishing, Lisa's Corner | Comments: 1


One comment on “Lisa’s Corner – Bowfishing

  1. Jo

    I live in Idaho and we live for bowfishing in the summer. We border Washington, and laws are do vary. In Idaho you do not even need a fishing license, in Washington all you need is a valid fishing license Grimm your resident state. We’ve put on many of bowfishing tournaments which is really fun. We have found many ways over the years on how to dispose of carp. We to do not believe in leaving them on the banks, they are horrible smelling and it’s not good etiquette. In past history we went off the most pound shot, which over two days with 16 or more teams we would end up with 9 thousand pounds of carp, and different years varied. Which posed the problem of how to discard of the fish properly. We found a few farmers that would have us transport them to their farm, where they had dug a huge hole for compost and would use it in their fields once they had decomposed in the soil. Other years we had the teams bring their 4 biggest carp and smallest. We released the rest poking a hole in their bladders and this makes them sink, and become fish food, and nutrients back into the ecosystem. If you have questions on any if the above techniques, such as poking their bladder, I could provide a how to video. Thanks for the great read. Jo Camden

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