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Beginners Guide to BowFishing

Ready to Learn to BowFish?

Bowfishing is the blending of two fun ways to hunt and fish. Blending together archery hunting, and fishing. It’s important to read up on the regulations for your state and local waters to see what is and what is not allowed. Bowfishing is legal for non-gamefish in most states (like carp), and in some states it is also legal for some gamefish. As non-game fish species, like carp, have grown in numbers to a point of over population, which could destroy the food supply and habitat for highly prized game fish, many fishermen have joined the bowfishing sport to target carp, and other species. Where Are You Allowed to BowFish? The list below was up to date at the time of the writing of this bowfishing article, but please check the link to the fish and wildlife agency for your state to validate if your state and local waters are legal or if the rules and regulations for your area or state do not allow bowfishing, or if there are specific species or other regulations to adhere to. BowFishing Bows and Bow Kits Oneida Eagle Phoenix Lever Action Bow Oneida Eagle Osprey Lever Action Bowfishing Bow Muzzy LV X Lever Action Bowfishing Bow Kit AMS Bowfishing Hooligan Bow Bowfishing Kit BowFishing Reels Muzzy Bowfishing Tournament Reel Muzzy Bowfishing Bottle Reel AMS Bowfishing Retriever Pro Bowfishing Reel AMS Bowfishing Big Game Retriever Pro BowFishing Line Cajun Archery Bowfishing Line AMS Bowfishing Replacement Braided Spectra Bowfishing Line Archenemy Tournament Series Braided Bowfishing Line Is a license required for bowfishing? Most hunting and fishing activities do require a license or permit, and bowfishing is no exception. The regulations vary from state to state, so it’s important to see what your fish and wildlife agency for your state requires, so that you can buy the required license or permit needed for bowfishing. In most states, a fishing license is required, however there are a few states where no license is required if you are bowfishing for carp. We have put together a list with links for all of the different state’s fish and wildlife agencies to make it easier for you to take a look. Fish Species That Most Bowfishermen and Bowfisherwomen Target As you are reviewing the rules and regulations for your area, they will state exactly what species that you can target with bowfishing. You will also find the daily bag limit, and size limits if there are any. Most states have plenty of bowfishing opportunities. Whether you are fishing for game fish or non-game fish species, there are a lot of opportunities for successful bowfishing. Freshwater Bowfishing Species No matter what state you live in, the chances are great that you live within a short driving distance from a great bowfishing location to target. Especially if you are thinking about targeting carp for bowfishing. The common carp is a highly invasive, and non-native fish that has become the most popular target for bowfishing. A list of the most common bowfishing freshwater species is shown below: Aligator Gar Bowfin Buffalo Catfish Common Carp Freshwater Drum Paddlefish Suckers Saltwater Bowfishing Species Bowfishing for carp provides plenty of action for most of us. However, there are some of us that like to take it to the next level of extreme by targeting saltwater fish for bowfishing. Saltwater bowfishing is a little more challenging, and can be a lot more dangerous as some of these species can hunt you while you are hunting them, so be careful. A few of the most popular saltwater fish species for bowfishing is shown below: Flounder Mullet Sharks Sheepshead Stingrays Now That You Have Had a Successful Bowfishing Trip, Now What? As you familiarize yourself with the sport of bowfishing, you will probably limit out by cathing your limits on a regular basis. With all the fish, what the heck do you do with it? First of all, try to only catch what you plan to eat, so you don’t waste the fish. It’s important not to be wasteful when it comes to any fish or game. Some of the fish species, like carp, that you may target are considered to be a trash fish, but you should give it a try. It’s definitely not for me, but some people really spend the time to cook any type of fish or game right, and end up enjoying the taste of some fish that others just don’t enjoy. Give it a fair try. Try several recipes and methods before deciding for yourself whether a fish is good or bad. Most of the fish that you can target do taste amaing, so you won’t be disappointed. If you do target a fish that isn’t good tasting to you, there are things that you can do, so that you can target the fish, but also make sure the fish does not go to waste. Do not just throw them away, especially in public trash cans where other people have to deal with the mess. Before doing any of these, please verify the specific regulations in your area to ensure that any given method is ok to do. You don’t want to lose your right to fish for a period of time because you made a mistake and did something that is not allowed. A list of things that you can do with any fish that you don’t like to eat is shown below: If Allowed in Your Local or State Regulations: Give them to friends or family Donate your fish to a local food bank (call first to see if they will accept them) Use the fish as fertilizer in your garden Use the fish for bait for your fishing trips Use the fish to make all natural dog or cat food (make sure the fish is a type that is healthy for them) Using fish as fertilizer in your garden can add great nutrients that will help your garden put out great fruits and vegetables. A lot of people bowfish with this as their main goal, to improve their gardens. In Summary Adding bowfishing into your tool belt for getting extra opportunities to get into the outdoors with friends or family doing something that you love is a big win. It is also a way to hone in your bow hunting skills when it’s not hunting season, so you are good to go when the hunting season opens. Bowfishing is yet another way to legally enjoy what our fisheries have to offer. It’s very important to familiarize yourself with all the rules and regulations, both local and state, to ensure you are doing the right thing. Once you have done all that, get your gear, and get out there and get you some! With a little bit of trial and error, practice makes perfect. Hopefully you may just find out that bowfishing is your new favorite hobby. Disclosure: This post is brought to you by the Mendenhall Outdoors team. We highlight products and services that you might find interesting. We frequently receive products free of charge from manufacturers to test. This does not drive our decision as to whether or not a product is featured or recommended. If you click a link on this page, then go on to make a purchase, we might receive a commission – at no extra cost to you, and does not impact the purchase price of any products that you may purchase.
Bowfishing for Carp
Hunting and Fishing
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BowFishing State Specific Information
BowFish Gamefish
BowFish Non-Gamefish
Validate Before BowFishing
Alabama
No
Yes
Alaska
No
Yes
Arizona
Yes
Yes
Arkansas
No
Yes
California
No
Yes
Colorado
Yes
Yes
Connecticut
No
Yes
Deleware
No
Yes
Florida
No
Yes
Georgia
No
Yes
Hawaii
Unknown
Unknown
Idaho
No
Yes
Illinois
No
Yes
Indiana
No
Yes
Iowa
No
Yes
Kansas
No
Yes
Kentucky
No
Yes
Louisiana
No
Yes
Maine
No
Yes
Maryland
No
Yes
Masachusetts
No
Yes
Michigan
No
Yes
Minnesota
No
Yes
Mississippi
No
Yes
Missouri
No
Yes
Montana
No
Yes
Nebraska
Yes
Yes
Nevada
No
Yes
New Hampshire
No
Yes
New Jersey
No
Yes
New Mexico
Yes
Yes
New York
No
Yes
North Carolina
No
Yes
North Dakota
No
Yes
Ohio
No
Yes
Oklahoma
No
Yes
Oregon
No
Yes
Pennsylvania
No
Yes
Rhode Island
No
Yes
South Carolina
No
Yes
South Dakota
No
Yes
Tennessee
No
Yes
Texas
No
Yes
Utah
No
Yes
Vermont
No
Yes
Virginia
No
Yes
Washington
No
Yes
West Virginia
No
Yes
Wisconsin
No
Yes
Wyoming
No
Yes