Like any sport, you need the right equipment and fishing is no exception. Sometimes you pull out the standard fishing rod and reel. Other times you grab your fly rod and waders. Then, there are the fishing adventures where you pull out the bowfishing kit. Bowfishing trips are truly one-of-a-kind, because bowfishing is an entirely different beast than other hunting sports. A briefly glanced shadow, the sharp twang of a bow string and THWAK, suddenly you’re hooked for life.
Bowfishing isn’t exactly fishing, but it isn’t necessarily bow hunting. The beauty in the sport lies in its capacity to take on the best of both fishing and bowhunting. Although it seems like bowfishing would be more complicated than the rest, it is actually more straightforward than you realize. If you are considering trying your hand at bowfishing, the team at Mud Buddy Motors rounded up answers to the most frequently asked bowfishing questions.
Whether you are a seasoned bow hunter, fisher, looking to try something new, or a true first timer, here are bowfishing solutions that can help get you started on the right foot
1.What Type of Fish Can I Bowfish?
Before you go out on your next bowfishing trip, please check your local and state regulations. These guidelines and local laws will detail every type of fish you can bowfish. For example, you can bowfish Northern Pike in Alaska, unlike most areas in the United States. However, you cannot return them into the water once you catch them because they are an invasive species. Other types of fish you commonly bowfish include:
- Common Carp
- Grass Carp
- Bighead Carp
- Silver Carp
- Alligator Gar
2.How Can I Find Good Bowfishing Spots?
Finding a good bowfishing spot is another piece of the puzzle that entirely depends on your location. You can spend time researching options online or talking to other bowfishers in your area. Know the species you are targeting and at what depth you will find them. You can also check out your state and city’s corresponding fish-and-wildlife agency website. In most places, you can bowfish from a boat (that’s how we like it) or from shore on lakes, ponds, and rivers. However, some areas are off-limits.
Before you head out, it is vital to make sure where you are planning on trying is a legal bowfishing location. You can also use maps, talk to other bowfishers, or visit a local retailer for further help determining the best bowfishing spots in your area.
3.Can Any Bow Be Used for Bowfishing?
Bowfishing equipment is pretty basic. So much so, that many beginners opt for converting basic hunting bows into a fish hunting setup. You can typically do this by purchasing a conversion kit. If you choose to go this route, make sure you understand everything you need and the type of bow you have. Be cautious about using a bow with too high or too low of a draw weight. Too low and the arrow won’t have the speed and velocity to punch through the water and the fish. (Plus, those suckers are quick) With too high a draw weight you can send your arrow straight through the fish like a needle through cloth. Find what works best for your strength and abilities.
Usually, bowfishing reels differ depending on their individual design and the method used for line retrieval. Some bows use a spool while others resemble a bottle or spincast reel. You should understand what type of bow you are using and learn how to fish accordingly.
Beyond the actual bow, you will also need to consider the fishing arrows. Bowfish arrows are typically heavier than the traditional bowhunting versions. The reason behind this design is that it can cut through the water and hit the target without losing necessary vivacity.
4.What are the Best Tips for Bowfishing Beginners?
The number one tip bowfishing beginners should know is that they should expect to shot and miss a lot. Don’t get discouraged when you spend the day shooting and missing your target. Bowfishing is a challenge. But when you hit after trying, failing, and going again, you feel overwhelmingly proud.
You can get ahead of the rest, by practicing before getting on the water. Try hitting water bottles and cans in your yard. Start with bigger objects and then slowly move to smaller targets. Once you move to the real thing, stay consistent. Nothing can improve your game more than staying on top of your consistency. It can make all the difference in your bowfishing techniques and performances.
5.What Do I Need to Bowfish?
When you first start bowfishing, you will need a few things to get started. First off, you will need a bowfish setup. These necessary items include a bow, reel and line, arrows, tips, and a fishing license. You can also bring gloves, towels, gaff, and other items you typically bring on your fishing and hunting excursions.
Fortunately, bowfishing gear can be as inexpensive as you want it to be, and you can still find efficient equipment when purchasing a budget-friendly setup. There is a lot of leeways, thanks to the type of gear available. You can find inexpensive gear that costs you less than $100, especially getting started. Then, as you upgrade, you can look for bowfishing setups that range in price. If you want to save money buying your first setup, routinely check local ad markets. In fact, many of our team members found gems on Craigslist, pawnshops, and yard sales. You can also easily convert your bowhunting bows into a complete bowfishing setup.
If bowfishing from a boat, we recommend an aluminum flat bottomed boat like the Excel F4, powered by a Mud Buddy motor. This will get you in and out of the shallows where many fish can be hunted. We also recommend a trolling motor. Just like in traditional bow hunting, silence is your friend. Running a large motor in the water will scare off your prey.
If you are still unsure what bowfishing equipment you’ll need, visit local archery, hunting, or fishing stores where staff can help you select all the gear you’ll need. You can also contact Mud Buddy Motors for further details on the equipment our team recommends.
6.What are the Local Bowfishing Regulations/Laws?
Every state and local city or territory has a set of regulations and laws that bowfishers and hunters must adhere to during every excursion. Everything from sport fishing license requirements to types of fish you can bowfish depends on the local laws of the area.
You can find a complete list of your local bowfishing laws by visiting your state’s Parks & Wildlife Department. For example, Texas’s Parks and Wildlife Department includes a list of every bowfishing regulation in their state.
7.Can You Bowfish at Night?
The last common question our team answered was, “Can you bowfish at night?” Our answer is a resounding, “Yes!” Many fishers prefer bowfishing at night because the summer heat discourages fish, especially when visibility is low in local waters.
Along with the option of bowfishing at night, the activity is also typically allowed year-round. Perhaps this is one of the biggest draws for many hunters and fishers converting to the sport. Unlike those sports that have limited seasons, bowfishing works in every season.
So, what are you waiting for? Grab your bow, convert it into a bowfishing setup, start up your Mud Buddy Motor, and hit the water. If you have any questions regarding this sport or any other, contact us. We love to help you get outfitted with all the gear and knowledge you need to make your next excursion one for the books.