If you are after sport rather than food, bow fishing may be for you.
Laws prohibit shooting game fish with a bow. That leaves only the "trash fish" such as gar, various species of carp and buffalo fish, said Roger Snodgrass of M and R Bowstrings in Carrier Mills. These fish run large and make good trophies, but the action is its own reward. The hunting and shooting of the fish is reason enough to take up a bow, an arrow with a retrieval string and head for the lake or river.
Snodgrass started bow fishing six years ago and sponsored some bow fishing teams before he got deeply involved. He first saw it as way to sell his bowstrings, but later became fascinated with the sport.
"The sport is growing in popularity, but it hasn't reached its full potential yet. Most shooters are working from a boat with a team."
Snodgrass said that narrow spillways and creeks off of lakes are good places to work a bow from the shore.
Retrieval of the arrow after a shot is accomplished by reeling in a string that is fastened to the arrow. The arrow itself is heavier than standard arrows and often lacks any kind of feathers or stabilizing device at the rear of the shaft. This is due to the problems these outcroppings cause underwater, forcing the arrow to go astray.
Since the shots are shorter than in conventional archery this is not a problem.
Some string retrieval devices carry the string in a bottle attached to the bow. The bottle has a crank and reel that make retrieving a shot fish much like retrieving a hooked fish with a conventional fishing pole.
Refraction of the light by the water effects the way a bow fisher aims at his prey.
The rule of thumb is "aim low and then aim lower."
Experience is probably the best teacher for depth of the fish and distance as both figure in the equation that produces a bulls eye.
Alex Snodgrass, 14, is Roger's son and an avid bow fisher with his own scaled down rig. Father and son enjoy going out in the boat together.
The season is March until October and all one needs is a state fishing license and healthy respect for the laws limiting what you can shoot. There is no catch and release after a fish has been shot.
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