Bowfishing is a great way to spend quality time with your bow each summer. It’s also a worthy changeup from punching targets in pursuit of perfect accuracy. In fact, it lets you have fun with friends on the water while shooting at moving targets.
Before heading to the lake or river with hopes of filling your boat or stringer with carp, ask yourself: Just what will you do with all those dead fish? Craft a plan to use your fish productively.
As hunting and fishing enthusiasts, we must take care of our natural resources while representing our positive lifestyles. Leaving dead fish near a public boat launch or in its dumpsters turns off everyone else who shows up. Make it a priority to find other options for disposing of fish you arrow. After all, you have many options!
Cook it up: Everyone likes a fish fry. Species like cod, perch, bluegills, haddock and walleyes make tasty table fare. You might not include gar and carp in that category, but you can turn these commonly targeted species into tasty meals. Some folks smoke carp to reduce its oily texture while adding a savory, smoky taste. Also remember that some states require keeping the fish’s species identifiable. In that case, put your fish on ice, and then gut it and keep it whole once ashore. Always check your state’s fish regulations to ensure you’re in compliance.
Donate it: If you don’t want to eat your fish, you might be able to find organizations that can use it as a feed/food donation. Animal-rehab clinics, for instance, often use such meat to feed injured birds and animals, especially avian predators like eagles and falcons. A zoo might also take as much donated feed as it can get. Be sure to call ahead to coordinate your donation.
Fertilizer: The first settlers in the New World turned to fish for fertilizing their crops. Fish still provide that benefit, so if you enjoy a productive outing and aren’t sure what to do with all those fish, cut them up and bury them in your garden. Decomposing fish provide essential nutrients that help plants grow. You’ll make your garden more productive, and never run short of great fertilizer!
Dispose of it: Always clean up after yourself at the end of your bowfishing adventures. Some boat launches provide fish-cleaning stations with dumpsters for fish. Use these designated dumpsters for unwanted fish rather than those near picnic and parking areas. If the launch doesn’t have a dumpster, line your fish barrel with a durable trash bag. When you’re finished, tie it up and take it to a landfill.
As we’ve outlined, you’ll find plenty of options for your fish after a fun time skewering gar, carp and other rough fish. Whether you want to try a new meal or donate your fish to “needy” birds and animals, you’ll find many possibilities. In turn, you’ll have even more incentive to spend time on the water.