One of the most popular outdoor summer sports is bowfishing. From land or sea you can do this sport and it doesn’t take a master shooter to go out there and participate. For everyone out there who loves the sport or who is looking to get into it, here are some tips, tricks and secrets to bowfishing from one of the country’s top bowhunters – Beka Garris!
Beka Garris is an Under Armour Hunt athlete and an avid outdoors woman. She started hunting with her father at the age of 10. Beka likes to do DIY hunts around the US and is a long time bowfisherman. She loves to share her passion with other people who enjoy the same love for the outdoors as she does on her social media sites listed below.
Before you head out on a bowfishing adventure, you are going to need a set up. A great beginner setup is the AMS bottle reel and kit. It comes with a rest, arrows, reel and string for an affordable price and is very user friendly.
When it comes to finding a bow, you can do one of 2 things: if you’re on a budget, you can easily find an old bow at a pawn shop or yard sale. Set the poundage between 35 and 50 and add your reel. If you’re looking for a brand new bow, Cajun archery, AMS, Archenemy and Oneida all have bow options designed specifically for bowfishing. It all depends on your budget,” said Beka. “Keep in mind that a bowfishing bow will end up covered in mud and fish slime, so I don’t recommend using your hunting bow.
After getting your bow ready, you have to know some safety rules. “If you’re on a boat, obviously using a PFD (personal flotation device) and following boating regulations is standard. When it comes to your bow setup, knowing how to tie your arrows on properly is extremely important. Using improper tying procedures can result in a fiberglass arrow coming back at you and resulting in severe injuries,” said Beka.
To shoot a fish it takes more than just a sling of an arrow. “When bowfishing in the day, polarized sunglasses are a must. Once you spot your first few fish, your eyes will adjust and you’ll find yourself spotting them more quickly. Usually you’ll see their tail and fins moving before you see the actual fish. At night, using LED lights on a boat or a flashlight from the bank also works,” recommended Beka.
The biggest secret to bowfishing, no matter who you ask, is always to remember to aim low because the light on the water reflecting can trick your eyes. The deeper the fish, the lower you aim.
A very important part to bowfishing is knowing what fish you are allowed to shoot. In some states you can shoot carp and gar and in others, you can shoot carp, suckers and even pike. Bowfishing can be done year round. This all depends on what state you are from and what fish you are after. To find fish, you can hunt rivers such as Beka does, or lakes – as I do. Your state’s wildlife agency’s website will offer information on fish that are legal to shoot, as well as areas to hunt.
The ultimate secret of bowfishing is that this sport helps with your hunting skills. That’s right, it makes you a better big game hunter. Beka explained one way it helped her: “When you’re bowfishing in the day, you have to be constantly looking for small movements in the water that indicate a fish and I’ve found it has helped me in the field. Another bonus is that constantly bowfishing all summer helps with muscle memory. Many people don’t practice shooting year round and it can result in a slight struggle to draw their bows before deer season. Constantly drawing a 50-pound bowfishing bow dozens of times a day makes a huge difference.”
Another way bowfishing helps your hunting skills is learning to move with your target, acquiring your target faster and learning how to aim without thinking about it. Many of us get used to holding our bow still on a target but with bowfishing, you have to move with the fish swimming, which helps with being more comfortable and staying with the target.
When you get a fish, there are many things you can do with them. “I will filet and eat longnose gar that I shoot, as they are actually quite good. The carp I usually give away to fisherman for catfish bait, or I use them as coyote bait. Many people use them as fertilizer as well. Zoos and game farms will also buy fish from bowfisherman to feed their animals,” said Beka
She continued, “Whatever you do, be sure not to dump your fish just anywhere. … It is our job as sportsmen to be respectful and keep our river banks clean; don’t leave piles of dead fish to rot. Many bowfishersman will bring garbage cans to take their fish back with them and dump them where no one will be bothered.”
With these secrets leaked, I’m sure your bowfishing skills now will be top notch! Good luck out there.