Most non-game or "rough fish" are legal for bow fishing. This includes species of carp, buffalo, gar, and many other species. Always check your local regulations prior to going bow fishing to ensure you are targeting legal species.
Choosing the right point is determined through a combination of targeted species and personal preference. Some points offer more fish holding power like the Cajun Lil' Stinger iV or the Piranha Long Barb making them the ideal choice for larger soft skinned fish such as Silver and Bighead Carp. Other Points like the Wee Stinger do very little damage to the fish making them the ideal choice for Tilapia. Match your point to your targeted species and you will have more success on the water.
Type of bow is also a matter of personal preference. Most serious bow fishermen prefer a compound bow with a draw weight between 40 and 50 lbs. This allows them enough power to shoot big fish in deep water without too much weight wearing them out after a full night of shooting. Others prefer traditional or recurve bows because of their lighter weight and more simple design. Which-ever bow you choose, make sure the weight and draw length are comfortable for you to shoot and Start Stikn'!
Bow fishing is regionally specific. In the southern part of the U.S. there is opportunity for great bow fishing year round while in the northern part of the country bow fishing is primarily done in the spring and summer months. During a typical year, late spring or early summer offers the best opportunity to shoot fish. Bow fishing is a great way to get outdoors and do some shooting while no other hunting seasons are open.
You need to aim below the fish because of the light diffraction in the water. A good general rule is to aim about 4" below your target for every foot of water depth. For example, if the fish is 3 feet deep you need to aim about 12" under the fish. This can vary according to lighting but is a general rule that will get you started.
There are three basic types of bow fishing reels which are popular in today's market. The first is a bottle type reel such as the Cajun Hybrid. This reel is very simple to use and very safe making it the ideal choice for beginning fishermen or youth. It is also very popular among more serious tournament fishermen because of its reliability. These reels generally hold about 25 yards of 200 or 250 lbs. test line which is more than enough for most bow fishing applications.
The second type of reel is a spin cast reel such as a Zebco 808 mounted to a reel seat. These reels offer the advantage of being able to fight your fish but are a little more complex because you must remember to push the button on the reel prior to shooting.
The third and final style is a drum reel. These are simply a drum of line which attaches to the front of your bow allowing you to shoot, and then wind the line back onto the drum. These are a very cost effective way to get started in bow fishing.
This is very specific to the water that you are fishing on. In lakes, shallow flats with vegetation and good visibility are a great place to start looking for fish. Comb these areas quietly and look for any disturbance that will give away the location of a fish. If targeting fish in rivers or moving water, look for any breaks in the current. These areas will have better visibility and are a great place to locate fish.
Fish such as gar, carp, buffalo and drum might move away slowly but sometimes you can float right over the top of them and they won't move. In fact, if you find them in submerged grass, they sometimes will lay still and hope you pass right over/by them. Grass carp however, are a bit more skittish and must be "stalked". If you know or think a grass carp is in a certain area, be ready because once they spook, they leave in a hurry and will offer you a small window of opportunity to get a shot.
Bow fishing is a sport that can be enjoyed by the whole family. If your child can pull a bow back, set them up with a beginner bow fishing setup and get them out on the water. This is a great sport to get your kids involved in archery. Make it fun and make some memories out on the water.
Most states require a fishing license to bow fish. Always check your local regulations to ensure that you have the proper license before heading to the water.
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