I love bowfishing, a lot. In fact, it’s probably the most consistent fun that I have with a bow in my hand. The action is usually fast and every legal fish I see is a target. There is no room for trophy bowfishing in my life. The one thing I don’t do much of when it comes to skewering fish, is nighttime bowfishing. It’s not that I don’t want to, it’s just that I’ve got twin four-year olds at home.
My days of staying up all night long for anything fun are long past me. As much as I love arrowing fish, I can’t justify too many days of being zombiefied and derelict in my fatherly duties over carp. It’s just not going to happen.
Knowing this, and knowing I still want to have plenty of bowfishing fun, I look for opportunities that are not only simple, but action-packed during bankers’ hours. And you know what? I find those opportunities all of the time.
I think we look at daytime bowfishing kind of like some people look at shed hunting without a shed dog these days, and it doesn’t make much sense. When I was growing up, we didn’t even know you could shoot fish at night (in fact, in many places you couldn’t), but we didn’t care. We just bowfished in the day, just like how I use to shed hunt (and find antlers) before I ever trained a dog to find cast bone.
To find decent daytime bowfishing, look no further than the nearest river or pond or lake or pretty much any body of water. Nearly all water that can have rough fish in it, will have rough fish in it.
For example, years ago while waiting for my wife to finish up a shopping trip at our neighborhood Target store, I walked the girls down to a two-acre drainage pond next to the parking lot. To my surprise the pond was full of small sunfish, crappie and carp.
I called the city to find out if we could fish there, and they said yes. I’m still not sure if I can bowfish there or not, but I’m trying to find out. If not, it’s no biggie because right down the road is one of those metro lakes teeming with carp and dogfish, and it’s a place I never blank with bowfishing tackle. Of course, for the lake I need to take out a boat, but not all of my hotspots require it.
I grew up in one of the only counties in Minnesota that doesn’t boast a lake. There are well over 10,000 lakes in Minnesota, just not any near where I showed up on the scene. We had streams, creeks and rivers, however. And I spent a lot of time in my youth ruining arrows on shallow runs as redhorse suckers spawned. I also shot piles of carp in the deeper pools.
Today, I do the same on a medium-size river right down the road from my house. The carp and sucker numbers aren’t crazy, but they aren’t bad. In the summer, the river runs at a level allowing for easy wading and plenty of shots.
If you’re not into burning the candle at both ends, but still want to arrow some fish, it’s usually a matter of looking a little more closely at the water available to you. Of course, if you’re looking for some in-the-city fun, you’ll have to make sure it’s legal to fire a bow in your chosen spot. I’ve found most folks are pretty tolerant of shooting carp, even in areas you’d expect a little backlash. That doesn’t mean it’s a good idea to go full-on Rambo in the middle of a shopping area, so please use a little common sense.
If you do, you’ll probably find some off-the-bank, easy-access areas close to home featuring just enough rough fish to make a midday trip worthwhile. Even better, you might find a hotspot loaded with something scaly and not have to lose any sleep over it.