Tuesday, January 31, 2023

Fishing Friday Feature #4: Bowfishing Is a Fast-Growing Sport

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EDITOR’S NOTE: HottyToddy.com and Team Renegade Outdoors have teamed up to feature hunting, fishing and game stories. Team Renegade Outdoors is comprised of individuals from all over the South who “eat, sleep, and breath the Gamekeeper lifestyle, always trying to better the habitat so the wildlife we love to pursue can thrive and be around for generations to come.”


All pictures courtesy
All pictures courtesy

Bowfishing is a fast-growing sport.

While everyone spends their days on the lake sweating in the beaming summertime sun there are a select few who wait for dusk before beginning their chase for monster fish.

I grew up bass fishing all over the state of Mississippi but when I stumbled upon the sport of bowfishing I was immediately addicted. Unlike rod and reel fishing, there is no patience involved in bowfishing – only intense focus and lots of laughs.

Bowfishing was founded to help clean trash fish out of our lakes and streams in order to create a better habitat for the local fish and prevent over population of lakes. Gar, carp of any kind, and catfish are the three main fish that are targeted when bowfishing. In some states, other fishes are legal to shoot such as Spoonbill Catfish and in Louisiana, you are allowed to shoot redfish. Along the gulf coast, stingray and sharks are also popular fish to target.

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What’s needed:

Bowfishing is easy and can be done by anyone interested in learning a new sport. All that is necessary to start your basic bowfishing adventure is a bow, an arrow and some string.

Any type of bow can be used from a recurve to a compound bow and there are now a couple different brands of reels that can be attached to the bow making harvesting fish quicker and easier. The arrow needs to be specifically made for bowfishing by having barbs at the tip in order hold on to a fish after it has been shot. There are many different styles of arrows that can be used but the basic carp point can be used to shoot any type of fish.

Bowfishing can be done from the bank or from a boat. There are many different boats that are used for the sport varying from high powered airboats to Jon boats that have lights taped to the sides, it all depends on your budget for what kind of boat set up to use. My first set up was a Jon boat that my brother and I strapped a piece of plywood too and attached lights to and shot more fish off of than I can remember.

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How it’s done:

Bowfishing can be done at night or day, but is normally better during the night because the fish tend to migrate to shallower water as the night goes on. The key to bowfishing is finding the clearest water available to you.

When fishing from the bank, it’s best to find a shallow and clear creek where logs and debris have created a slight natural dam. This debris will cause the fish to school up and give you the best shot. Fishing from a boat can be done a couple of different ways.

When fishing during the day, polling or drifting with the wind are the best options because the fish tend to be more skittish. At night the sport is totally different. Depending on your boat setup, you can either troll the deeper water around brush lines and other structures which produce bigger fish but fewer numbers.

If you are fishing from a boat that allows you to go in extremely shallow water, the trick is to cover as much of that water as possible while focusing on grassy areas. This tactic will produce the most numbers of any technique but the size of the fish will be slightly smaller than fishing in deep water.

Don’t give up:

Bowfishing is normally an action-packed sport, but just like every other outdoor sport, things don’t always work out the way you want them to.

A lot of times at the beginning of a night of bowfishing, the fish tend to not be where they are “supposed” to be. This is simply because bigger and larger schools of fish haven’t had time to move into their nighttime areas. The easiest way to counter this is to keep covering ground and checking your spots, but don’t forget to double-check. I have had many nights where we started out in our “honey hole” but no fish were to be found, but as the night went on and we doubled back to the hole we would often come upon schools of fish that moved into the water once it had cooled off from the sun a bit.

Bowfishing is a great sport that can be taken advantage of by anyone willing to try it. Regardless of your budget, there is a way for you and your buddies to get out on the water and shoot some fish.


This article was written by Will Morrison with Team Renegade Outdoors. For questions or comments, email teamrenegadeoutdoors@gmail.com.

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