To most people, summer is a time to scout for the fall season, find great stand spots, and wait for the fall to arrive. To my brother and me, the summer is much more than that. We definitely are out in the woods and getting ready for fall for many hours every week, but we love to find the time to get out on the lake and do some bowfishing!
Most people don’t even know what bowfishing is. It is exactly like it sounds; we shoot fish with our bows! However, game fish cannot be shot, only rough fish. We set up our older bows with bowfishing kits and equipment, as bowfishing can be very hard on the bows. There is special equipment needed for bowfishing, such as fiberglass arrows, a reel, a rest that holds heavy arrows, and some line to tie to your arrow.
Here in Wisconsin, as well as all over the country, rough fish are a huge problem in a lot of areas. They disrupt fish beds and can deplete a lake of game fish extremely fast. Rough fish include carp, suckers, gar, bowfin (dogfish), buffalo, and many more that most people don’t even know exist! It is important to keep the populations of all of these fish low so they do not ruin the body of water they are in, and bowfishing is a great way to take care of that! Plus, smoked carp and suckers are very good to eat!
We got many of our friends involved and they now love it and do it as much as they can also. Some of our friends that are obsessed with bowfishing now because of us don’t even hunt or fish! We try to make many trips every spring through the summer with our friends. Our first trip of this year was an unforgettable one!
For an entire year now we have had this night planned out. We were just not sure where we would go! We finally decided to try a little lake in Buffalo County, Wisconsin, called Dead Lake. We knew there was a great variety of fish in that lake, including fish we have never shot before, like gar and freshwater drum. We each had our own goals. My goal was to shoot 4 different species, our friend Logan’s was for one of us to shoot a gar, our friend Sam (who doesn’t hunt ever or fish) just wanted to get one, and Justin’s goal was to shoot 20 fish as a group. These are all goals that are not easy to accomplish, but we had high hopes.
We didn’t even arrive at the lake until about 8:30 PM, but we still had some time to kill as the sun disappeared over the horizon. The wind died down to only a slight breeze and the temperature went down with it! Finally, it was dark enough to start! We turned on the spotlight and started on our way down the shoreline. We were a little nervous when we got through the first hundred yards of shoreline without seeing one fish, but our luck was about to turn around. The water in front of us started churning and we knew the carp were in there! For those that have never been bowfishing, a tip for you is to AIM LOW! If you think you are aiming low enough, aim lower! The refraction from the water will mess with your head for a while and you will miss frequently until you practice.
As the night went on, we kept on shooting. We ended up getting a six all night long, including 4 carp, 1 sucker, and 1 sheephead. So, we had already gotten 3 species, and Sam did get a carp, but we had only shot 6 fish, so we had a ways to go, and we had missed every gar we shot at! As daylight approached, we decided to head back to the van to take a nap for a couple hours. We had been out in the 45 degree weather all night and the sun was starting to come up, so it was a good time for a nap.
After we energized ourselves, we headed back out on the water to try our luck during the day. It was a beautiful day! Light winds and hardly any clouds make for great day bowfishing conditions. Right of the start the carp were up in the shallows! We knew it was going to be a great day. We ended up shooting 21 fish, which included 5 different species (a gar being one of them!). That means that we all reached our goals for this trip! We couldn’t have been happier! It was an awesome trip and we hope to have a few more yet this summer which I will share with you all!
If you have never gone bowfishing, I highly recommend it. It is a great way to get out and shoot your bow and a great way to help out the lakes and rivers by cleaning out some of the rough fish. If you would like any more information on how to get started or need any tips, feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org <mailto:email@example.com> .