Bowfishing is a little like water hunting. A spear-tipped arrow is attached to your bow with fishing line, so when you see your shot, you better be ready. If you need extra motivation to try it, you can help the environment at the same time. Keep in mind these top species to target while bowfishing as they harm local ecosystems. No one will miss these invasive bullies.
Anywhere there’s water, you’re likely to come across carp. The US Commission of Fish and Fisheries actually brought them here from Europe in the 1800s as an additional food source. Big mistake. They thrive and reproduce—and reproduce—just about anywhere. They’ve even been known to live up to 50 years in captivity.
If you want to master bowfishing, the common carp will provide you plenty of practice. In the spring, carp are drawn to shallow water; pull on those waders and go after them on foot.
There’s kind of an optical illusion that makes it challenging. The way the light refracts in the water makes the fish look higher than they are. Once you can get close enough, aim your bow significantly lower than your instincts tell you.
This is one of the top species to target while bowfishing for several satisfying reasons:
- Invasive snakeheads can breathe air. They’ve been known to survive on land for up to four days. It can migrate across land. Read that one more time so it sinks in.
- As if “snakehead” wasn’t a villainesque-enough name, the media has taken to calling them “frankenfish.” Fishing is even more fun when you feel like a superhero. (But don’t mistake it for the 2004 movie “Frankenfish”—although impaling it with a flying spear could only improve the plot.)
- Each female can lay about 15,000 eggs a year.
At this point, you’re probably realizing that someone has to exterminate northern snakeheads, now. Do it for your country. If you and your mighty bow are to prevail, your best bet is to sneak up on them at night.
This invasive bad boy also goes by aliases including “Mudcat” and “Shovelhead Cat.” It lacks scales, making it a particularly slippery fellow. You’ll find them hiding under logs and roots in the deeper parts of rivers, ready to strike at live prey. Once flatheads reach adulthood, not many predators go after them, which is why it’s up to you.
It makes sense to invest in sturdy equipment when you’re going after flatheads. Miss, and you’ll have to wrestle the arrow out of muddy river bottoms. Hit, and you don’t want your arrows to break. Flatheads can grow more than 5 feet long and well over 100 pounds. Luckily, if you want to set a record bowfishing for flatheads, expectations are lower. The current national record belongs to Dusty Willson of Wilburton, Oklahoma, who landed a 46.2-pound, 44-inch trophy.