If you have an old bow sitting in the closet or hanging in your garage and you’re looking for something to do this spring and summer, try bowfishing! It’s a fun, social, interactive sport that helps you fine-tune your shooting skills while removing invasive fish species from the environment. Depending on where you live, you can bowfish from the bank, from a boat or by wading in the water. You can go solo or with friends. If bowfishing sounds interesting to you but you don’t know where to start, these are great steps to take.
To try bowfishing, you’ll need some specific gear, including a bow, some type of reel, special arrows, and barbed fish points. Head to your local archery retail store and talk to a sales representative who can help you find the right equipment and get set up. They can also probably provide shooting tips and location recommendations. They might be able to connect you to an experienced bowfisherman or woman who can show you the ropes. Learning from an experienced mentor can put you on the fast track to success.
Visit your state wildlife agency website to determine what license you need to bowfish, where you can go to do it legally, and which fish species you’re allowed to shoot. Rules and regulations vary between states. Some states have equipment rules, while others let you use whatever gear you desire. Several states allow you to shoot an unlimited number of legal fish, whereas other states have possession limits. Most lakes, ponds and rivers are accessible to bowfish across the U.S., but some areas are off-limits. Invasive species like carp and “rough fish” like gar and suckers are usually legal bowfishing targets, but again, you need to verify that information. If you can’t find the regulations you’re looking for, or you’re confused by the information you do find, call your state agency or a local game warden to get assistance.
Many archery retailers and state wildlife agencies offer educational bowfishing classes. Explore Bowfishing is a popular course that teaches participants basic bowfishing skills, overviews gear options and how to use them properly, and explains how to identify fish species and their habitats. Ask around to determine whether there’s a bowfishing class near you. If you can’t find a local class, seek a bowfishing guide or mentor to tutor you. Most bowfishing veterans eagerly share their knowledge with beginners.
If you’re a first-time participant, you might be intimidated by bowfishing. While there’s not much to worry about, going with an expert can ease your concerns. Many guides and charters have equipment to use or rent if you’re not yet ready to invest in your own. They also teach beginners where to aim, how to use the equipment, and which fish species are legal targets. They want their clients to have safe, positive experiences, so they’re dedicated to your success. Conduct a simple Google search to yield information about potential contacts, guides and charters in your area.
Many bowfishing manufacturers provide educational materials for beginners. You can find articles, videos, podcasts and product overviews on their websites and social media accounts. Start by exploring content from brands like AMS Bowfishing, Cajun Bowfishing and Muzzy Bowfishing.
Don’t be afraid to sign up for a bowfishing tournament, even if you’ve never bowfished before. Attending or participating in a tournament is an easy way to pick up tips and gain insights from others who are familiar with the activity.
Bowfishing is a great way to get outdoors and keep your archery skills sharp during the offseason. Invite your friends for a Saturday afternoon or evening bowfishing excursion and help remove invasive species from the waterways while you’re at it.
For more bowfishing information, visit the bowfishing webpage at BowhuntersUnited.com for additional tips and articles.