BEGINNERS GUIDE TO BOWFISHING
Ready to Learn How to Go BowFishing?
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
Where Are You Allowed to BowFish?
Most states allow BowFishing of non-game fish species. About ten percent of the
states in the United States also allow bowfishing for game fish species as well. Read
the rules and regulations for your area to see what fish you can bowfish for. It’s
important to know all about the rules around bowfishing in your area, and purchase any licenses or
permits that may be required, so you are good to go Bowfishing.
What BowFishing Gear Do I Need To Get Started In Bow Fishing?
Bowfishing Bows and Bow Kits
License or Permit
BowFishing Bows and Bow Kits
The AMS Bowfishing® Hooligan™ Bow Bowfishing Kit is made in the USA, and
is a no let off, dual cam bow built specifically for hunting and shooting fish to
make a meal out of them! This fishing bow kit includes a high performance
AMS Hooligan bow with a Rapid Adjustment Post (RAP) cam system that does
not require a bow press to adjust. It can quickly and easily be customized
with a single tool. The 40 and 50 pound adjustment posts deliver a unique,
no let off system that provides you with the perfect draw force curve at
optimal efficiency and power at any draw weight. It has an adjustable draw
weight of 24 to 50 pounds. It has a 32 inch max draw length. It is made of a
forged and machined aluminum riser with fiberglass limb, and features
bright orange Kryptek® Inferno™ camo accents. This kit includes the AMS
Retriever® TNT bowfishing reel with 35 yds. of 350 pound specter line,
fiberglass arrow with Chaos FX, and safety slide. It is very lightweight, and
easy to carry, coming in at only 3.25 pounds.
If you are looking for a new reel for your BowFishing bow, the Cajun
Archery Winch Pro Bowfishing Reel is built to wrestle in big alligator
gar, carp, and other big fish. This bowfishing reel is the perfect choice
for hardcore bowfishermen. The reel is easy to use, and you can reel
with one hand when you need to. This reel also has a fish fighting
Wheel Brake design that allows bowfishermen to brake and reel at the
same time as they fight to bring these monster fish up to the surface.
It has solid aluminum mounting brackets, stainless steel hardware,
and a rugged aluminum frame to stand up in the harsh conditions
that you may encounter while bowfishing in different environments.
This bowfishing reel includes 25 yards of high visibility, 250 pound test bowfishing line.
AMS Bowfishing® Replacement Braided Spectra Bowfishing Line is
super strong, coming in at 400 pound test so that you can fight and
reel in those river montsters! It can handle alligator gar, shark,
alligator, and other large game and non-game fish species while
bowfishing. It’s strong and durable, giving you less of a chance of it
cutting on those tough scales on those big beasts, and debris in the
water. This bowfishing line is saltwater resistant.
Made for big game
Is a fishing license or permit 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.
What fish can you bowfish for?
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 Fish 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.
Top Freshwater Bowfishing Fish Species
Saltwater Bowfishing Fish 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
Top Saltwater Bowfishing Fish Species
Bowfishing for Carp
The best time to go bowfishing for carp is in the spring time, when they congregate up in the shallows
and are easy to target. From early April to late May, when the water temperatures get to be around 64
degrees, you can take your boat up into these shallow waters and see these huge carp everywhere. You
can even wade out in these shallow waters for the same luck.
Bowfishing for Grass Carp
Grass Carp are good prey to be hunted on the edges of weedbeds and shorelines with vegetation. Grass
carp are extremely timid, so you have to sneak up on grass carp by coasting over them in the boat with
the trolling motor off, and it’s game time!
Bowfishing for Buffalo
Buffalo are a delicious flaky white meat, so if you are looking for a good eating fish to go bowfishing for,
Buffalo is a good choice. They begin spawning in the spring in large circular pods with a large female in
the middle, surrounded by a bunch of males, out in open deeper waters. They are easy to spook, but if
you can locate one of these pods, and slowly slip in without any noise, you can hook into a 100 plus
Bowfishing for Alligator Gar
Alligator Gar meat is delicious, kind of like shrimp meat. These monster fish get up to 245 pounds and
even eight feet long. These fish are big enough to know that you have to make sure your equipment is
big enough to handle it. These fish are huge in size, and put up a huge, and fun fighting experience for a
Bowfishing for Freshwater Drum
Freshwater drum fish are nocturnal, so you will need to equip your boat with some good lighting and go
bowfishing for them at night. They hang out in deeper waters on gravel and shell banks.
Bowfishing for BowFin
Bowfin make another good target for bowfishing because they regularly frequent shallower waters
making them easy to spot and target. They regularly surface for air, so you can target them from both
land, and on the water on a boat.
What Do I Need To Do To Start Bowfishing?
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 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.
Bowfishing is a Great Way to Catch Fish
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.
About The Author
Mike Mendenhall is the the founder of Mendenhall Outdoors. This
website is an extension of the Mendenhall family’s lifestyle and passion
for the great outdoors. Everything that they learn, and experience, along
the way that they find may be valuable to our website visitors is on the
site for you to enjoy. We highlight products and services that you might
find interesting. We frequently receive free products 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.
The Best Bowfishing Fishing Experience Awaits!