Are you looking for a fun activity to participate in year-round? Try bowfishing!
Bowfishing is a fun, social and interactive activity that can be done at night or during the day in rivers, ponds, lakes and coastal saltwater shallows nationwide. Participants can wade, use a boat or shoot from shore. The sport offers multiple shooting opportunities and a long season. Did we mention a year-round season in some states?
Field & Stream magazine reported 35 states permit year-round bowfishing in 1981. Although state laws and regulations have likely changed in the past 35 years, many states still allow their residents to bowfish year-round, including Texas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Minnesota, Wisconsin and many others.
In a short video on YouTube, Doug Hunter, vice president of Oklahoma Fish Stickers, explains he likes to bowfish every weekend in Oklahoma, whether it’s in the middle of winter with an inch of ice over the water or it’s 110 degrees in the middle of the summer.
“To me, it doesn’t matter the temperature and it doesn’t matter what the weather is doing; I’m going to find a way to be on the water to go hunt fish,” Hunter said. “Every weekend, just about, there is a boat in Oklahoma on the water bowfishing.”
And while bowfishing is popular during the winter months in southern states, there are plenty of archery lovers in the North who don’t shy away from opportunities to arrow fish – even if it’s cold.
In the article “Wintertime Bowfishing for Suckers and Carp,” the Minnesota author said, “Besides the bulky clothes and boat-launching ordeal, there isn’t much difference in bowfishing winter versus summer.” The author explained an ice shelf prevented a normal landing which forced him to haul the boat onto a snowbank with a tow strap and then use a winch to load it onto the trailer.
Not only is bowfishing a spring, summer, fall and winter sport, but it’s also relatively cheap because it only requires a few extra pieces of gear. Most people can probably convert their current bow into a bowfishing rig with three key components: a reel, fishing arrows and barbed screw-in points. Several manufacturers offer bowfishing kits to easily convert your bow with minimal cost. Another good option is to buy a bowfishing bow, which protects your hunting bow from water and damage. Most archers use recurves and compounds to bowfish.
Learn about the bowfishing specific gear in our article, “Don’t Just Fish … Bowfish! Get Started with this Essential Gear.”
Bowfishing also offers numerous shot opportunities because of the many rough fish species across the United States. Rough fish are non-game species. You’ll also help the environment by targeting invasive species that wreak havoc on aquatic ecosystems. That’s because most fish you’ll hunt with your bow are exotics like Asian carp, common carp and the silver, black and grass carp. Learn about other fish species you can bowfish here.
Are you up for the chilly, but exciting challenge?
Check your state wildlife agency’s website to find season dates and information on bowfishing laws and regulations, including what fish species are legal to shoot.