Bowfishing: How To Get License, Tips, And More!

Many people are finding the time to go out and enjoy the remarkable season when the weather gets warmer, and as a result, there has been a boom in curiosity in bowfishing. This activity is poised to skyrocket in demand when you append in the ongoing attempts to eradicate exotic fish species. However, before you go out on the lake and start aiming for a fish, you need to be aware of the bowfishing rules in your area and state. We’ll find out if bowfishing is permitted anywhere, and we’ll also go through the gear we’ll need and how to secure a bowfishing license.

What Is Bowfishing

Because it reduces the population of harmful fishes that can destroy lakes, streams, and wetlands, bowfishing helps to make them healthy. Bowfishing is a type of fishing in which a bow and arrow are used to locate a fish. It is a form of activity that is usually not designed for eating your target, but it is done for fun. If you know how to detect fish under the water, bowfishing is not tricky. But because of the refraction of water, novices believed it was tough to perform. This activity is like doing two sports: archery and fishing.

Bowfishing License

🏹 What to do first

You should first check the local and state legislation before going out and starting bowfishing. In several areas, the government has imposed limits on bowfishing. Doing this activity in federal and national parks, for example, may be prohibited. Because they regard it to be the use of a lethal weapon, this sport has also been banned in several locations. So you must ask the head of the area if it’s allowed to do bowfishing.

🏹 Sport Fishing License

Anyone seeking to catch fish, shellfish, crabs, or amphibians in downstream or coastal ecosystems must have a sport fishing license. For some species and locations, further verifications and report cards are necessary. Any angler who is at least 16 years old is eligible for this license. To acquire a fishing license, you can purchase it over the phone, get it online, ask a retail store, or at a nearby gas station. The fishing license expires after a year prior to the date of purchase, and you will need to get a new one.

There are different types of license subscriptions you can acquire. There are available one-year licenses, multi-year, lifetime, non-resident licenses, and those licenses specific for some days only.

🏹 Places to bowfish and their law

Alabama, Alaska, California, Colorado, Georgia, Maryland, and New Hampshire are example states where you are allowed to bowfish for non-game fishes only. While in Idaho, there are little to no restrictions as long as you have the Idaho fishing license. In Kansas, you can bowfish in most of the open waters. But there are laws you still need to follow, such as the bowhead type and fish species that you are allowed to fish. That is why it is very important to research and inquire to the local heads to avoid going to court.

🏹 Types of fish

You must also know what type of fish you are allowed to. Another thing is that there are already types of fish in your head you think you can get due to overexcitement. But, you must know which species is prominent in certain areas. This is to avoid disappointments and understand what the restricted species are. Some types of fish that are great for bowfishing are Grass and Bighead Carp, Buffalo, Paddlefish, Gar, and Bowfin.

As mentioned earlier, there are states that have strict regulations when it comes to bowfishing. An example is the Pennsylvania. Bow and arrow are only allowed for suckers, carps, and catfish. In Tennesse, alligators and sturgeon are prohibited from bowfishing.

Tips For Bowfishing

🏹 Sunglass is a must

Wearing a sunglass is indeed a part of your fashion when fishing. But! Sunglasses have a very important role. This is to help you spot a fish directly under the water without squinting. It is also a protection for your eyes, especially when the sunlight streaks onto the water and bounces to your sight. Make sure also that your sunglasses are legit polarized. Please do not invest in cheap polarized sunglasses because most of them are not really polarized.

🏹 Choose the right tip or point

If you already possess an idea of what kind of fish you are targeting, you must be prepared with your tip. Remember that small tips work only for small fish. That is why it is essential to get ready with your tools in bow fishing to avoid missed shots. The bowfishing point is a very important part because this holds your fish while you are catching it. There are four levels of bowfishing point, and these differ from how deep the water is and how big is the target fish.

🏹 Sharp your tips

This is one of the initial steps of bowfishing but is usually forgotten. Do not forget to check your tips if they are sharp enough. This is because if the tips are dull, they can burrow bigger holes in the fish, and that makes them easier to escape or pull out. You can use a file or sandpaper and sharpen your tip, just like how you sharpen a knife.

🏹 Don’t focus on your boat

If you already know what to fish, it’s time to get off the boat and explore. Staying on the boat has a higher chance of missing the fish, especially if that fish likes to stay on small coves. Boat size also matters, and if you bowfish just for fun, you can take small boats like canoe or kayak.

Types Of Equipment Needed For Bowfishing

Photo credits: Wide Open Spaces

As mentioned above, bowfishing is a combination of two sports which are fishing and archery. In that case, you need a reel, bow, and arrow.

🏹 Bow

There are different types of archery bows, and you can choose any of them, such as compound, recurved, or longbow. But, the most traditional style is the recurve, while the compound is the modern type. These bows differ in size, weight, and kind of fish you want to aim for.

🏹 Arrow

Though bowfishing is similar to archery, the arrow you use is still different. Because bowfishing arrows don’t go as far as the classic archery arrow, they’re usually crafted from fiberglass that is heavier. Fletching isn’t applicable since it redirects the arrow’s path through the water. Bowfishing arrows have barbed arrowheads that trap the target and retain it on the arrow by entangling it. They feature gear for connecting the lines from the reel spinner to them, which is usually a sliding mechanism that prevents the line from snapping back.

🏹 Reel

Same as the two types of equipment above, the bowfishing reel also has various types. You can choose among drum reel, spin-cast, or retriever reel. The drum reel is the simplest type. It works like a spinning top, that after you aim a fish, you just roll back the line around the diameter. The spin cast is the traditional type. It has a spool and cranks for easy retrieval using a drag mechanism. Lastly, the retriever reel is explicitly used for bowfishing. It is controlled by pressure, and the line is retrieved in a bottle rather than a spool.

Bottom Line

Bowfishing is indeed a popular sport, especially during summer. It is also a great bonding hobby with your friends and family. But, to be able to have a remarkable ability in this activity, you must have an excellent instinct. Most beginners have difficulty in aiming because of refraction. That is why you must have a great sense of timing and steady hands to have an instant shot. Don’t also forget to wear gloves, especially if you still don’t know how to hold your bow and arrow. This is to avoid cuts on your hands, especially if your pieces of equipment are new and sharp.