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Fishing Bait and Tackle, Posts - Catfish Bait, Carp Bait and Fishing Tackle

Shrimp are one of the best baits you can use in both salt and fresh water

Use a Ghost Shrimp Pump to catch Bait

One thing that I have enjoyed is catching my own shrimp to fish with.  It not only has saved me hundreds of dollars over the years but it’s fun too.

slurp gun and bucketI remember the very first time I saw a guy standing out in the bay at low tide with a long tube he kept sticking down into the sand.  Beside him was a bucket and every few pulls he was throwing something in the bucket.

At that time I had not lived near the Pacific coast long, but I certainly wanted to learn how to catch fish in the ocean here.  I spent some time talking with the guy back at his car and learned that he had been using a ghost shrimp pump to catch shrimp for fishing.

He had a whole bucket full of ghost shrimp and I knew buying just a dozen was very expensive in the bait shop. 

I had to try it and was lucky to find a shop nearby that sold ghost shrimp pump guns like the one I had seen being used to catch all those shrimp.

Get shrimp on bay at Low tideI’ve only seen them sold in a few bait or hardware stores since. But when my boys grew big enough to go fishing with me and help me catch ghost shrimp I made a couple more ghost shrimp pumps for them.

fishing the Oregon coast


Being a mechanical design engineer it was easy for me to reverse engineer the one I had purchased.  The gun is fairly simple, made from PVC pipe and other items you can find in any hardware store.

Over the years the most enjoyable day fishing for me is when I can drive to coast at low tide. Catch a bucket full of ghost shrimp and then spend the best half of the rising tide fishing on the beach for red tailed perch or off the rocks for rockfish.

When you have 50 or more ghost shrimp you don’t have to worry about running out of bait or loosing expensive shrimp you bought in the bait shop.

What Ghost Shrimp are-

– & Where to find them

Ghost ShrimpGhost shrimp are native to the American west coast.

They prefer the colder water found along the beaches from Southern Alaska as far south as the US-Mexican border.  I’ve seen a couple articles indicating there are some ghost shrimp on the gulf coast in the winter too. I can’t say for sure but I do expect in the cooler waters in other parts of the world you may be able to find a variation of these.

 Find Ghost Shrimp at Low Tide

ghost shrimp holesIn order to find these you need to go out on the sandy flats of any bay at low tide. Depending on the location you may be able to catch them even at half tide but to be sure, low tide is best.

Look for shrimp holes. The Ghost shrimp live in colonies so when you find them there will be a lot holes some as big around as your thumb. They usually leave a little mound of sand around the opening making it look like a tiny volcano.

In order to catch them you need to push the ghost shrimp pump into the sand so it goes into the colony below the holes.  Do this in a place where the water lever is close to the surface. You can try going shallow at first. Just push the outer tube into the sand about 6 inches deep.  Let the plunger slide up so it stays on top of the sand.  Now pull back hard on the plunger to draw a vacuum and at the same time pull the outer tube out of the sand.

getting ghost shrimpPlace the contents (sand and water) of the tube out on the sand beside you to see if there are any shrimp in it.  Look back carefully at the hole you just made with the plunger. Often there are shrimp floating in the water that is in the hole.

When I first tried this it seemed that the shrimp were often back in the hole.  I remember my kids young at the time, would follow me around and kept finding shrimp in the holes I had made when I had not got any.

If you’re not getting any shrimp push the ghost shrimp pump all the way down before drawing it out again.  If after two or three pulls in the same hole you don’t see any move a few feet and try again.  Soon you’ll be pulling out as many as 4 shrimp in a single pull.

Fishing the Oregon coastIt takes some time especially in the winter months to fill a bucket and it is quite a workout.  But I always enjoy it and make an integral part of my fishing trips to the coast.

Building the Ghost Shrimp Pump

All the items you need to build a ghost shrimp pump gun can be found at your local hardware store.  They are not hard to make but require a couple hand tools such as a saw and drill.

slurp Gun -PVC CapIt’s best to use schedule 40 PVC pipe and you’ll need PVC glue. Now in order to make the outside tube you will need;

  • PVC pipe – 2″ Diameter x 30″-32″ long. (If you’re tall make it long)
  • PVC Cap – 2″ Dia.

The PVC cap will need a hole drilled in it, 1″ diameter to accept the inner plunger pipe. Once you have the hole in the PVC cap you can glue the cap on the 2″ dia. tube.

ghost shrimp pump - T handleghost shrimp pump - L handleNext you’ll need some items for the inner plunger assembly.  I’m showing two different handles for the ghost shrimp pump. Some people even add a handle to the side of the large tube but I don’t so just get what you need.

  • PVC pipe – 1/2″ Diameter x 48″ long
  • PVC fitting – 1/2″ T or elbow depending on the handle style you want. (I prefer to use an elbow)
  • PVC fitting – 1/2″ coupling /slip fit (to be glued onto the pipe)
  • PVC fitting – 1/2″ male cap / slip fit
  • Washer (2) – 2″ outside diameter – OK to be smaller, 1 1/2 inch.
  • Carriage Bolt – 1/4″ x 2 1/2 inches long
  • Wing Nut – 1/4″  to fit on the lag bolt
  • Soft rubber ball – 2″ diameter ( a plumbing plug may also be used, modify hardware accordingly)

To prepare the parts you’ll need to drill a 1/4″ hole through the center of the ball and the PVC 1/2″ plug.

To assemble;

  1. Put the bolt through the plug, washer, balGhost shrimp pump gun inner plungerl & washer in that order.
  2. Last screw the wing nut on the end of the bolt to finish that assembly.  You may need to hold the nut on the inside of the cap or insure the square part of the screw under the screw head fits tightly into the hole to keep it from turning.
  3. As you tighten the wing-nut notice that that ball will squash and expand.  You want it to fit snugly into the outer tube.  Too tight will make your ghost shrimp pump gun hard to use, too loose and it will not suck the water and air along with the shrimp out of the holes.  Don’t worry you can adjust it anytime. At least until it rusts.
  4. Glue the 1/2″ plug into the coupling, then glue the coupling onto the 1/2″ PVC pipe.

ghost shrimp pumpThis finishes the plunger assembly.  Now as you can see in the picture my guns are rusty from use and one of my guns has the top cap broken out.  This is from pulling hard and having the inside plunger smack the inside of the cap.  It doesn’t happen all the time but eventually the cap will break and you”ll need a new gun.

ghost shrimp pump gun - springIf you want to prevent this from happening buy a spring to put on the rod of the inner plunger.  If you have any broken sprinklers that spring will work great.  Just slide it over the 1/2″ PVC pipe.

Before you finish the assembly drill a small hole, 1/4 inch diameter into the side of the outer tube about 6inches from the top of the cap. This will let the air or water out as you pull up the plunger.

ghost shrimp pump gun - vent hole

Ghost Shrimp Pump Final Assembly

OK now we can put it all together.  Insert the 1/2″ pipe of the inner plunger assembly up through the hole of the outer tube cap. Push the ball of the inner  assembly up until it is inside the outer tube by about 1/2 inch.

Mark the place on the 1/2″ pipe where it sticks out of the hole in the 2″ cap. This is where you want the bottom of your T or elbow fitting to be so the ball will always be inside the outer tube.

Remove and cut the inner 1/2″ pipe to length. Slip the spring (if you are using one) over the 1/2 pipe and reinsert it into the outer tube.  Now glue the fitting, either T or L onto the 1/2″ pipe.   Cut the remaining 1/2″ pipe you have left over to use for the handles to whatever length works for you.

That’s it your done.

Now go out and get some shrimp with your new Ghost Shrimp Pump Gun at the next low tide.


In this Steelhead / Salmon Fishing post you will learn:

  • What type of fishing pole is best for float fishing

  • How to setup your fishing rig properly for float fishing.

  • How to select a good assortment of jigs – Best color?

  • What other baits you can use when float fishing for Steelhead and Salmon

Spring Chinook Salmon

The use of a float when fishing for Salmon and Steelhead has risen in recent years to be one of the most popular methods of catching these powerful fish.  The main advantage being able to see the when the offering is taken.  Even someone new to fishing for Salmon and Steelhead can recognize when the float is taken under.

Other methods such as drift fishing takes some skill in differentiating a bounce off of rocks or a strike.  The most difficult part of float fishing with a jig is learning where salmon or steelhead are holding in the river.

One other advantage to float fishing for salmon and Steelhead is that is keeps you bait above the rocks so with the right rigging tackle loss is kept to a minimum.

Use the Best Fishing Tackle

One thing you need to learn up front is that when fishing for Steelhead and Salmon you don’t want to buy cheap fishing tackle. Buy the best fishing tackle available. These are very powerful fish and using cheap tackle will result lost fish.  You may spend hours fishing before you receive that strike that will give you a hookup.  The last thing you want is to loose a nice Steelhead or Salmon because of a weak swivel or broken rod. Cheap fishing tackle will eventually cause you problems.

Float Fishing Poles

The best float fishing poles are long enough to keep your line up out of the water. Usually that requires a pole length between 10 to 14 feet.  A shorter fishing rod length, down to 8 feet, may be used for short casts however the key is to keep your line out of the water which is much easier with a long rod.  Allowing your line to drag on top of the water causes an unnatural presentation of the jig or bait.  Fish will recognize the drag and it will result in fewer hookups.

The fishing pole you select should also be capable of supporting the line weight you are using.  Summer Steelhead are smaller fish ranging from 5 to 10 lbs. These can be caught on long light to medium action poles with a 6-10lb leader.  Fishing for Winter Steelhead and Salmon requires a sturdy medium to fast action rod and reel capable of handling 20-30lb line.

Float Fishing Rig Setup for Steelhead & Salmon

The correct setup on your rig for float fishing is important to insure that the float will be at the right depth in the water and the jig will sink to near the bottom where the fish are holding.

The items needed for proper float setup:

  • A good quality float. I recommend thrill floats, in a size capable of supporting 1 once of weight.
  • Bobber  stop,  – adjustable to keep your jig just above the river bottom – tie your own
  • Beads, One small bead that will not slip over the bobber stop, a larger bead below the float.
  • Double eyed lead, 1 oz. – may be adjusted for ease of casting and float height.
  • Leader line, Leader weight should be lighter than main line, 8-12lb for summer steelhead or very clear water, 12-20lb for winter steelhead and Salmon.
  • 1/8th once jig, – use up to 1/3oz if using a heavy leader. insure float is not too low in the water.

Float rigging instructions are detailed in the photo below; Click on the photo to enlarge it.

Steelhead Float Rig

 The above rig should be drifted just above the bottom where steelhead or salmon are holding.  The float should be adjusted so that there is an occasion bump on the rocks of the river bottom.   You will notice a slight dip in the float height as it hits rocks.  When the float goes completely under the hook should be set.

Best Jigs for catching Steelhead and Salmon

pink marabou JigLike all other types of lure fishing the fish don’t always follow the rules.  Your best bet is to carry a number of marabou jigs in various colors and weights.  Usually one of the best things you can do is check with your local fishing tackle shop and ask questions.  Find out where, when and what colors the fish are being caught on.  If you’re not able to get any information there you can remember these suggestions The colors mentioned below refer to the marabou feather colors.

  • Generally a 1/8th oz. jig can be used for most circumstances
  • The head color of a jig is not important.  Jigs that have been used and lost the all color will work just as well as those that are brightly colored.
  • The darker the day is, cloudy or late evening the darker color you should start fishing with.  On bright days use bright colors.

The best time of year to use a specific Color Marabou Jig

  • Red, Red/White, Red/Pink & White work well year round.
  • Orange/Yellow & Yellow works best in the spring.
  • Black jigs as well as Brown/Orange jigs represent leaches and crayfish that hibernate during the winter. Therefore use these colors only from June through December and only in slow moving pools.
  • Black/Red, Black/Pink, Black/Chartreuse & Orange work well in the fall months.
  • The best color for August through December is Blue/White which represent juvenile salmon.
  • Winter is the best time for Chartreuse jigs.
  • Purple represents a squid so only use it in faster water where the fish can’t get a good look at it.
  • Purple/Pink, Pink & Pink/White are great for sunny days over a sand bottom.

Other Baits to use Under a Float for Steelhead or Salmon

Using a float is very versatile.  Fishing a river with a float not only works well with marabou jigs but you can use other artificial soft rubber lures such as frogs, insects and worms.  One very productive lure is a 4 inch pink worm. For whatever reason it is a favorite for Steelhead.

pink soft wormFresh bait can also be used witch adds scent to the water. Often these may work better than jigs because a fish will hold onto a natural bait longer than it will a hard jig. Most often used are sand shrimp and eggs.  Both will work very well. You will need to add a split-shot lead above the hook to insure your bait gets down to where the fish are.

Enjoy your Day and Good Fishing !




Steelhead and salmon are some of hardest fighting and most acrobatic fish you can find. Hooking one can be a real treat however people spend a lot more time fishing for them than catching them. Both Steelhead and Salmon returning from the ocean don’t need to eat. They are focused on returning to the stream where they were raised so they can lay eggs. The salmon will then die but Steelhead  turn back to the ocean for another year of growth before returning to fresh water again.

River fishing for SteelheadEven though they don’t eat they can still be caught with a standard rod and reel or with fly fishing methods. Steelhead and Salmon are so used to striking at bait fish or shrimp they will take your lure or fly in their mouth as it drifts past the place they are holding in a river.

Here I want to briefly cover each of the main methods used when fishing for steelhead or salmon.


There are seven main methods used by fishermen when fishing for steelhead.  These include use of  flies, bait or lures. Since steelhead are sea run rainbow trout found in rivers which flow into the ocean or the great lakes each of these methods lend themselves to fishing fast flowing rivers.  However some of the methods can also be used in more gentle waters or lakes.

I want to start with the two methods that require a boat.  Back bouncing and side drifting. Either a drift boat or jet boat can be used for both of these methods.

Back Trolling for Steelhead and Salmon

When back-trolling or back bouncing the idea is to slowly back the lure down river along the bottom.  Using oars or motor keep the boat in the same place above a steelhead holding area and then back the boat through the drift area slowly.  This is a good method for using bait such as prawns or eggs fished behind a diver.  You can also use diving plugs such as a hot shot or flatfish which take your line down to the bottom when held against the current.

Side or Free Drifting for Steelhead and Salmon

Side Drifting is just what it sounds like.  Drifting your bait or lure alongside your boat at a rate that will keep you bait moving at the same speed as the current. This sets up a natural drift that is enticing to steelies.  Getting the right drift with your bait down near the bottom and through the run when steelhead will be holding is the key.  The cleaner you pull this off the better chance at boating a fish you will have.

Bank Fishing Methods

Both steelhead and salmon travel from the mouth of a river to the spawning areas so wherever you are along the river you can be sure steelhead will be swimming through the area.

When fishing for steelhead you will need to find where fish are holding.

When a boat is not available there are several methods for fishing from shore.   All of the methods mentioned here have a number of variations used by fishermen with years of experience.  Each one will have his own secrets that work for them.  The idea here is to teach you how to get your bait in front of steelhead or salmon  You can create your own special technique with some practice.

Clackamas River Steelhead Fishing

Drift fishing for Steelhead and Salmon

The most used and the very first method I learned years ago when I started fishing in North West Rivers is called drift fishing.  This method is used from the shore or from an anchored boat. The idea is get your bait to drift as naturally as possible deep in the water through  the channel where steelhead and salmon may be holding.  Drifting can be done using bait, eggs and shrimp or lures, such as corkys and yarn but requires a swift current to carry the bait along.  The setup requires a pencil lead and leader for proper presentation.

Float Fishing for Steelhead and Salmon

Float fishing for steelhead and salmon, that is using a float above your bait or lure, is becoming very popular. It had been found to work well and gives a visual indicator when the fish takes the bait presented.  It can be used in all types of water but is best suited for slower waters. Bait or lures, typically jigs placed on a leader below the float are both used equally and produce fish.  It is easy for any age fisherman to recognize a bite when the float goes under.  As with drift fishing the idea is to let the float drift downstream unrestrained which provides a free drift and irresistible presentation to the fish below.

Plunking for Steelhead and Salmon

Plunking is a much simpler method of fishing than drift or float fishing.  It is very well suited for use with bait but lures such as a spin and glow can be used or a combination of both.  When plunking the line is cast out into the river along a path though which steelhead or salmon travel.  A heavy lead will hold the bait near the bottom and as the fish pass by they are tempted to strike.  Use of an attractant is helpful and will create a path for the fish to follow.  Once the line is cast and positioned in the water a bell or line alarm can be used to flag a bite.  You can relax on the shore until the bite comes.

Fishing with Hardware

Fishing with hardware for steelhead and salmon is the simplest method for rigging.  Included in the hardware list would be various spinners, spoons and plugs.  These lures are affective against salmon and steelhead because they can be very territorial attacking any small fish that swim past.  A bright spoon or wobbling rattling plug will often produce a strike when bait won’t.   Simply attaching a piece of hardware to a swivel at the end of your line and casting across current for a slow retrieve is all that is required. Try to keep the lure as close to the bottom of the river for the best results. A fish will not travel far from it’s holding spot to attack a lure so getting the lure into the travel path for salmon and steelhead is essential.

Fly fishing for Steelhead and Salmon

Fly fishing has always been popular when fishing for these large members of the trout family. Fly fishing takes the right equipment to get the fly in front of a fish.  For steelhead and salmon large wet streamers are normally used but for summer fish in clear water a large streamer may spook the fish.  In this case using a smaller fly will produce better results.  As with hardware the fly is struck out of aggression since migrating salmon and steelhead do not feed.

Fishing for Steelhead and Salmon is something you need to enjoy

It can take many hours of fishing to catch a salmon and even more to catch steelhead.  Pick the method you enjoy most or try them all and consider yourself blessed when you tie into one.

Kayaking is quickly becoming a great way to fish on the water. As a sports enthusiast I have to admit I would really recommend using a kayak for fishing if you don’t have a larger fishing boat.  It is not only a great fishing tool that is easy to fish from but a kayak is also easy to transport and is good exercise as well.

Silver Coho Salmon caught from a kayakI have a 17 foot fishing boat with a motor for fishing large lakes and rivers but I also have a fishing kayak that I enjoy fishing from.   I bought it a few years ago for a road trip across Canada from British Columbia to Nova Scotia.  I bought the fishing kayak in order to stop and fish along the way without towing my big fishing boat behind my jeep or needing to find a place to rent a boat.  I found that kayaking was a perfect way to access most any lake,  Even remote lakes without a boat ramp were easy to get on by using a Kayak for fishing.  I had no problem launching onto the many lakes and rivers I fished.  It was the first time I had used a kayak for fishing since I was a young boy, when I built myself a canvas over frame kayak from a kit.

My first Fishing Kayak

Today’s kayaks are much better than the one I built when I was a young boy.  Although I had a lot of fun with it for several years as I was growing up, it was a bit fragile. The canvas bottom would occasionally get a hole in it when I pulled up on shore, if a stiff stick poked at it. However it was also easy to repair and extremely light. Building a kayak was a great project for me as a boy and it helped me to gain experience in fishing and boating. Dedham kayaks, where I bought the plans and kit, is now out of business, but back in the 1960’s after seeing an ad in a magazine,  I bought a complete kit for $60. Wow, can you imagine? Everything showed up a couple weeks later and about two weeks after that I was on the water in a wood framed canvas covered craft. Of course with my fishing pole in hand.

I’m sure you won’t be able to build a kayak kit for sixty dollars today but I found there are some boat building plans and easy instructions available.   It sure is exciting to go out in a kayak you built yourself.  If this sounds like something you would like to do,   Click Here!  to find a set a plans for a boat or Kayak you can build yourself.

Today’s Kayaks

There are many different types of Kayaks available for purchase these days. Anything from large ocean kayaks to small sport kayaks can be found. I enjoy fishing, and have found that a kayak is an exellent fishing tool. I also enjoy exercise and nature. Kayaking has given me a really good way to enjoy all of these things. 

Jackson Kayak Cuda 14For the fisherman, specialized Fishing Kayaks are designed to meet the needs of today’s fisherman.  Listed here are some of the things you want to look for in a good fishing kayak;

  • Stability, This is very important in order to reach your fishing eqipment and when fighting a fish! A Sit-on-top Fishing Kayak  is a good choice.
  • Easy access to poles, net, tackle or any other equipment you may need while out on the water. 
  • Sized to fish the body of water you frequent.  This can be small kayak such as this 10 foot angler by Moken for ponds or lakes and slow moving rivers.  A larger craft such as the Big Tuna from CKS is best for large bodies of water where the wind can kick up big waves or for use in the ocean. However kayaks are very boyant and usually will float like a cork over even the biggest waves.
  • man with fish in Moken KayakWeight is important especially if you fish alone or need to carry your kayak any distance to reach the water for fishing. Most kayays are light but the type of construction can make a big difference. Fiberglss can be heavy but modern plastic Kayaks are a good balance between weight and strength.
  • Consider what you need to carry. Kayaks are small and you will sacrifice some items you may like to carry in a large boat.  How many poles, tackle boxes, and bait boxes will you need?  Do you want an anchor and a net? What about a fish finder or a live well for minnows and don’t forget these will need a power source. The Ocean Kayak brand designs have such features as in this Trident Ultra Angler
  • Another thing to consider is the type of Kayak you want to use. There are two types of kayaks sit inside and sit on top. The sit inside kayak is a traditional style, The sit on top is a fairly new type that has the advantage for water to run out if it. It’s a good choice for a fishing kayak or where water may wash over the side.

One of the most important things to look for is a kayak that is comfortable. Fishing for several hours on a lake or river you’ll want to make sure you have a comfortable seat with a good adjustable back rest.

Now that you have a good idea what to look for check out the selection of fishing Kayaks availible from Colorado Kayak Supply. They have a great supply of kayaks that are good for fishing or any other water activity and have been ranked as the canoe and kayak retailer of the year.  They also have a large assortment of Kayak accessories.  If you are looking to start an adventure in kayaking a river or lake be sure to check out CKS  Colorado Kayak Supply at this  Kayak Fishing   link.

Transporting your Kayak

There are a number of ways to transport a kayak from your home to the river or lake.  Since they are not as heavy as a standard fishing boat getting them to where you would like to fish is much more simple.  They also do not require a boat ramp for entry into lakes and streams. 

Where I live I like to fish in the mountain lakes and many smaller lakes do not allow motors.  The kayak is perfect for such places. It does not destroy the serenity found in a quiet mountain lake and it is simple to launch where you can glide out onto the water peacefully to cast a lure or fly to catch the unsuspecting fish swimming near the surface.  

Kayak DollySometimes you cannot always park near the lake or waterway. In that case, if you are alone or don’t want to carry your kayak and all the gear a long distance. The perfect tool is the Canoe/Kayak Carrier.  It is a specially designed dolly with rugged wheels that will carry your Kayak across the ground as you pull it along.  


Car-top Carriers for Kayaks

There are a lot of different car-top carrier styles.   The most common types are the vertical or J style, which carry a kayak on its side or the load assist which carry a kayak bottom side down.   These all require a cross bar style roof rack for your car or truck.   If you need to get a roof rack the Thule Cross Road is a good solid choice.  A less expensive solution is something like the Roof Turbo Rack. These both have the necessary cross bars that will fit most typical kayak carriers.  

Once you have selected a roof rack, you’ll want to find a Kayak Carrier that works for you.  If you are going to carry more than one Kayak on top of your car or truck it is probably best to get a J style or vertical carrier. The J style carrier provides more room to stack kayaks side by side on top of your car.  These can also be used for a single kayak.  Another thing to think about is the height of your vehicle. If you have a high vehicle such as an SUV or van it can be difficult to reach high enough to load the kayak easily.  In this case you might want to consider a rack with either rollers or a loader plate.

One J style carrier that is easy to use on a high vehicle is the Malone Autoloader J-style Kayak Carrier.  It is designed with a ramp that helps to load the Kayak on top and is very stable at high speeds.   A more standard J-Style carrier is the Rhino Rack LX This one is fully adjustable and flattens easily.

Another good choice especially for an SUV or high vehicle is the Yakima HullyRoller Rooftop Kayak Carrier. This features a set of rollers at the rear kayak supports so that you can simply roll your Kayak up onto your vehicle from the back.  This limits the amount of lifting needed to load you kayak.  It’s a great option after a long day of paddling.

Now if all this seems to complicated or expensive there is a simple and cheaper way to mount your kayak on top of your car.  It might be the best solution for you if you are not planning a long trip or only need a carrier for limited use.   Purchase a set of foam blocks designed to support a kayak or a canoe.  I found that the Malone Standard Foam Block Universal Car Top Carrier Kit has some good reviews and can be purchased here on Amazon for the best price I was able to find.  There are other brands of carriers like this as well however many of the reviews are not favorable due to loud wind noise while traveling.

I hope you will consider the purchase of a Fishing Kayak or any Kayak just for the fun of being out on the water.  They make a great personal craft for fun in the water and have evolved into all sizes and styles to meet any needs.  Kayaks can be a good healthy and less expensive solution than the purchase of a larger fishing boat and in many ways have advantages in stealth and exercise over larger craft. I often enjoy taking my kayak out instead of my motorized boat just to see the wildlife I miss when my motor is running. The difference at times is really amazing.

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.

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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.

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