Summer is usually a slow time for bowhunters. We do some 3-D shoots and a little scouting, but bowhunting opportunities are scarce. That is, unless you go bowfishing, which is a fun way to get outdoors with your bow and scratch that bowhunting itch.
And while you’re at it, you can target invasive species that wreak havoc on aquatic ecosystems. Most fish you’ll bowhunt are nonnatives like snakehead, Asian carp, common carp; and the silver, black and grass carp species. Bowhunters near coastal areas can also target saltwater fish like rays and skates.
To try bowfishing, you’ll need some specific gear, including a reel, arrow and possibly a bow made specifically for bowfishing. Much like traditional fishing reels, bowfishing reels store line, which attaches to your arrow, and help you retrieve the arrow after each shot.
The two types of reels used for bowfishing are bottle styles and spin-casters. Both attach to your bow. Bottle reels mount on the riser’s side and spin-casting reels mount on the riser’s front. Archery stores will assemble your setup and show you how it works.
Bowfishing arrows, which are made of heavy fiberglass, can drive deeply into water. They carry barbed screw-in points that resemble a harpoon. The barbs anchor fish to the arrow so they can’t fall off while being reeled in.
Compound and recurve bows work well for bowfishing. Compounds make a more compact package and generate faster arrow speeds, but recurves are less expensive and work great for snap-shooting. Both are available in bowfishing-specific models. Bows designed for bowfishing can best withstand the sport’s rigors and abuse. However, you can retrofit your hunting bow for bowfishing, too.
Either way, head to your archery shop to get the gear you need. Once you’re set up, get out there and hit the water!