L. Woodrow Ross on recent outing
Being on the water is always a good time. As an advocate of bow hunting, it is only natural to try to incorporate that into other activities. Bow-fishing is the natural choice. "Trash fish" species such as carp and gar can be hunted with bows in the spring. Carp come into the shallows to spawn and can be detected by their rolling and splashing. Sometimes half of their bodies will be exposed above the water line.
Bow-fishing requires special gear. Any bow (traditional or compound) can be fitted with a bow reel. This can be a basic, inexpensive spool type where the cord has to be wound by hand around the drum, or it can be a modern reel that can vary from $40 to $100. The line should be at least 80 pound test to withstand the rigors of repeated firing from the bow and man-handling the large fish.
The line is usually nylon or polyester fiber and the terminal end is connected to a special, heavy arrow made of carbon, fiberglass or a combination of the two. It has no fletching and the head is fitted with barbs that will pass through the fish, but not pull out. By twisting the head, the barbs may be released for easy arrow removal. The tip is a screw-on, replaceable point that can be easily changed in case of damage such as hitting a rock, etc.
Shooting at fish on the surface is not difficult, but fish that are below the surface are another matter. Refraction causes the light rays to bend as they pass through the water. This caused the fish to appear to be much shallower than they actually are. Trust me, this can result in numerous misses at targets that appear to be easy pickings.
If you already have a bow, you can get a minimal set-up for about $50.00. If you have to purchase a bow, keep in mind that it does not have to be extremely powerful. Most shots are taken at short range. A friend of mine uses a 25 pound bow to bow-fish. I am shooting a 55 pound Martin recurve that I already owned and outfitted with a basic rig.
The ideal situation is to bow-fish from a stable boat so that the archer may stand in the front as they cruise into likely spots. Many bow-fishermen hunt at night and use bright lighting rigs to illuminate the water. However, you don't have to shoot from a boat. I went a few days ago and waded into water about 3 feet deep and shot at fish as they cruised into range.
Bow-fishing in a unique sport and allows you to be on the water and sharpen your archery skills at the same time. If you are an archer, give it a try. I think you will enjoy it. Maybe I'll see you on the water.