Do you enjoy shooting or hunting with a bow?  What about fishing?  Have you ever tried fishing with a bow, bow fishing?   Bow fishing is a great sport to try. Here is my story and my insights about bow fishing.

As a kid growing up not too far from a medium sized creek running through the farmlands of the Midwestern US I learned that if you can’t catch’em, shoot’em.  Go bow fishing for Carp that is.

bow fishing

My Bow Fishing Story begins

Being an adventurous kid I wanted to try everything.  Like most kids I liked to shoot or make weapons and I was very intrigued with bows and arrows.  I had shot rifles and shotguns, made sling shots even made some slings, like the one David used on Goliath in the bible, but the bow and arrow looked like a weapon I really wanted to try. The problem was I couldn’t make myself a good one and I didn’t have enough money to buy one as a kid. 

One summer while spending time on Carr Lake in northern Indiana with my dad I walked to the nearby hardware store to look around.  They carried the usual hardware, some fishing gear and they had some bows.  As I was looking through them I saw a nice 45lb pull recurve bow that was marked at $20. I thought to myself that I could make that much by cutting grass, come back and buy that bow.

I mowed several lawns around town at a couple bucks each and a couple weeks later I had enough money.  I went back to the hardware store to buy the bow I saw there, and my heart sunk.  It was marked much higher than it had been before. I must have looked really distraught because the hardware salesman saw me and asked if he could help.  I told I had been here a couple weeks ago and the bow was priced at $20 but now it was much more expensive. I said I had worked hard to earn the money to buy it but now, I didn’t have enough.  He said well, I’m sorry but that’s right price.

I was fortunate that day because the owner of the store was there and over heard what was going on.  He walked over and had a few words with the salesman. He said the bow had been mispriced but it now the price had been corrected. The owner looked over at me, asked a few questions, and then told the salesman sell me the bow for $20.  I could hardly believe it and being able to buy that bow turned me into an avid bow hunter.  I took the bow home and learned to shoot it. I had targets set up all over my back yard.  It wasn’t long before I was a dead shot.  Now a bow is my favorite weapon for hunting all types of game.

Use a recurve or long bow for instinctive bow fishing

Using a recurve bow is great for bow fishing.  I found that with practice I could instinctively hit a target. It took little aim to hit the bull’s eye or whatever I was shooting at.  Later in life I bought a compound bow that I use with a sight for hunting big game but using it I could never hit a target instinctively.  I’m sure there are lots of people that use a compound bow for bow fishing but in my experience a bow you can shoot instinctively is best. I believe it’s because you don’t shoot directly at a fish under the water or you’ll miss it. Bow fishing requires you to shoot below your target.

468 x 60 Archery

Learning Bow Fishing, my first Carp with an arrow.

I learned about bow fishing by reading an article in a magazine.  It sounded like fun and after looking through the fishing regulations I saw that it was legal to shoot carp with a bow. I knew I could always see a lot of big carp swimming up and down the creek so I decided I’d go bow-fishing but I didn’t have the fiberglass arrows, string and bow mounted string reel that was described in the article. I wondered what would happen if I shot a carp with one of the wooden field point arrows I used for target practice.

I decided to try it.  The creek was not big. Most places the water was only knee deep and the holes in the creek were not much more than waist deep. It didn’t bother me walking through the water. I was used to fishing that way. It was easier than trying to go through the weeds and brush along the bank.  It was the best way to learn where the holes were and access the best fishing places so I waded in with bow in hand to try it out.

carp, bowfishing, Soon I saw some carp, slowing wading closer I pulled back and let go.  I missed, how could I miss? It was right there. I saw another carp and missed again.  What was happening?  I knew I was a better shot than this. There is no way I could miss something that close. When I saw one that was right on top with his dorsal fin almost out of the water, I got him.

Off he went swimming fast as he could with an arrow sticking out both sides.  I chased him up the creek. He couldn’t swim too fast with that arrow in him and he stopped in the deepest hole he could find.  I could see the arrow fletching just under the surface of the water so I grabbed the arrow and slowly tilted it up until the fish was out of the water.  I was able to get the carp and he didn’t get away. 

How to hit a fish, Aiming at underwater targets.

I learned a few things that day.  After going home and reading up on bow fishing I learned that the refraction in the water makes fish look as if they are in a different location than they actually are. Fish in the water appear to be above their actual location.  Understanding this bow fishing talent, I learned to shoot about three inches below where the fish appeared to be.  I seldom missed from then on.

refraction, bow fishing The deeper a fish is the more refraction occurs, so the further above a fish you will need to shoot in order to hit it. Be sure to remember this and make adjustment when bow fishing depending on the depth of your target. It’s a little strange shooting in a place where nothing appears to be but with practice you will soon be able to figure out instinctively where to shoot.

Do you really need all that bow fishing equipment?

I also learned that I didn’t necessarily need a bunch of  bow fishing equipment for the small creek I bow fished in.  The creek was small enough and didn’t have deep holes where the fish could get away. I was always able to chase them down and recover the fish trying to hide in a hole that was no deeper than my chest.  However if you go bow fishing in a lake or big river you’ll need the string, reel and barbed arrows such as is found in a bow fishing kit.

Like this post? Subscribe to my RSS feed and get loads more!