New To Bowfishing

By – Derrick Schmidt

Coming from someone who remembers all the trial and error that comes with getting into the sport, here are a couple things that are very important to consider when it comes to beginner bowfishing.

1. Find yourself a bow. Before I got into bowfishing, I assumed that you needed a special kind of bow to be able to shoot fish. Little did I know that you can use almost any old hunting or hobby bow and be ready to start shooting! I started out by using a Mathews genesis bow that I had used in my local school’s archery program.

2. Something to retrieve the arrow/fish. When it came to finding something to mount on my bow to be able to retrieve my arrow or a fish, it was actually a rather simple decision. I had watched a couple videos online about the AMS Retriever Pro. The retriever can mount onto any bow with sight holes, and was insanely easy to operate. Once I had my retriever mounted to my bow, I bought a bowfishing arrow from a local sporting goods store, and I felt like I was ready to conquer the bowfishing world.

3. Polarized Sunglasses. I feel as though this is a rather underrated piece of equipment when it comes to bowfishing. I remember one of my first times out bowfishing, I was wading in the water and my buddies and I were shooting common carp while they were spawning during the daytime. Fish were everywhere! My buddies were shooting left and right, connecting on almost all their shots and having a blast while doing so. I was struggling. I couldn’t see any of the fish, much less shoot at them! I had normal sunglasses on, and once a buddy lent me his for a couple minutes, I realized how amazing polarized sunglasses really are. It’s like you’re looking into a different world. I purchased a pair of polarized glasses on the way home from that trip, and I still use them to this day.

4. Where to aim. Having a background in shooting target archery in my childhood, I figured that shooting fish that were 5-10 yards away would be a breeze! WRONG! Because of the refraction of the water, you must aim much lower than you anticipate. A general rule of thumb is to aim at the bottom of the fish’s belly. This should make your arrow hit the fish centrally if the shot is true.

5. Where to find fish to shoot. I was rather lucky as a kid to know multiple people that had bowfishing boats. As fun as shooting in a boat is, you certainly do not need one in order to shoot fish. When the fish are spawning in the spring time, you can literally drive around the body of water looking for splashing spawning fish. Once you locate them, you can sneak up on them on shore and shoot loads of fish. Wading in after them is also a very effective tactic. My best days of bowfishing have been done using this tactic. Many spots with clear water are also hot spots for shooting fish without a boat. I think most people who are big into the sport now, started out shooting fish from shore.

Be Sure To Check Your Local/State Fish & Game Guide For Bowfishing Regulations!