For bowhunters wanting to take a break from the field and set their sights on something new, look no further than your nearby lake or river. Bowfishing is an exciting challenge that utilizes the skills learned from hunting land animals with a bow, combined with the patience and difficulty of fishing. If you’re new to this sport, take some of the following tips into consideration for the best chance at reeling in a catch.
Boats are Not Mandatory
This may seem surprising to some, but thinking that the only chances of catching a fish is to do so within a boat is limiting yourself. Of course, this can be beneficial, but the possibility that your boat’s engine or shadow will scare away a school always exists. To avoid this, finding spots along streams or rivers that allow you to enter the water without disturbance is a great alternative. Bowfishing from a bank can develop a great amount of skill.
Like hunters and fishermen of all types know, being calm and patient is key when searching for, and stalking a target. Whether you are in a boat or walking downstream, maintain a slow and steady pace. While fish may be harder to track, reaching high speeds in a boat will both scare them away, and force you to miss out on shooting opportunities. Allow your boat to drift downstream with the engine off, and keep an eye out for schools or large, individual fish.
Limit Your Noise
Similar to slowing your pace, making sure that you are not producing too much noise is essential when bowfishing. Practice a stealthy approach. As mentioned before, turning your engine off and allowing the boat to drift is a great strategy, as is keeping your speaking voice to a bare minimum. Do your best at avoiding debris as well. The sound of driftwood hitting the side of your boat can travel an impressive distance and alert fish from all over of your presence.
Don’t Let Weather Stop You
Hunting outdoors can, at times, be ruined by inclement weather. Obviously, you should avoid bowfishing during severe storms, but a little rain and mild thunder could actually be beneficial. Approaching fronts can bring out walleye and bass, as well as other common species. An overcast seems to confuse fish into thinking that they are well hidden despite being out in the open; something you can easily take advantage of in shallow waters.
Study Your Target
Rather than immediately taking aim and firing upon seeing your first fish, study its movements first. You may find that it follows a similar swimming route, or that there are even more fish nearby. This is a strategy used by almost every deer hunter, and something that can easily be applied to bowfishing. Observing your target beforehand could provide you with valuable information in terms of patterns and behavior. If you don’t catch anything in that given day, keeping this information in mind and coming back later could give you a leg up on any fish in the water.