"Truth be told, I didn't know what the sport of bowfishing really was a year ago…or even that it was a sport. I have been an avid fly fisherman my entire life. As the oldest of four boys (no sisters), I was blessed to be raised in a family where outdoor sports—especially fly fishing—was an important part of my childhood. In fact, my dad, brothers and I have always lived by the motto: “If we’re not planning a fly fishing trip, we’re not happy.” Though I have never been one of those uppity fly fisherman who think their sport is elite and too sacred for anyone else to try, I have always taken pride in my ability to catch (and release) fish using a fly.
That is why I was so shocked to hear that my dad had started ‘bowfishing’ with a close family friend in the summer of 2009. Of course, I had to ask all the typical questions: Is shooting fish really that entertaining…or even ‘sporting?’ What do you do with them after you shoot them? How bad does it smell? Are you really able to hit fish with an arrow? (Between my dad, my brothers and I we owned exactly ZERO bows between the five of us…not exactly an archery-minded family). My dad’s response was simple: “Just wait until you try it...you’re going to be surprised.”
So that is what I did. I waited. In fact, I waited until Memorial Day 2010 to give this sport of bowfishing a try. I remember that day well. It was cold and windy; weather typical of the southern Idaho area we were bowfishing in that time of year. I boarded the boat of a close family friend who had introduced my father to the sport and, along with my dad and a brother, we started trolling the banks searching for carp.
Now you must understand that at that point in my life I could probably count on one hand the number of times I had shot a bow. To call me inexperienced would be a huge understatement. I was using a trigger release for the first time (not sure of the correct vernacular), a bow I was completely unfamiliar with, and, of course, an arrow with a string tied to the end. Not to mention I was on a moving boat shooting at moving objects…into water! To make a long story short, with the tough weather conditions and our inexperience with bows, we successfully boated three carp. But despite the tough conditions and minimal numbers of fish, I was absolutely 100% hooked!!!
Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to go again until early summer, 2011. This trip was a disaster waiting to happen. My father and I met our family friend at the Milner Dam portion of the Snake River in southern Idaho. That day the wind was howling, rain was on and off, and the temp was in the mid 50’s. Terrible conditions for spotting carp, but we went for it anyway. Over the next 45 minutes we accidentally drug a poor bank fisherman’s rods into the river with our trolling motor, I had an old bow break in my hands causing toothpick sized splinters to shoot through one of my fingers, the wind pushed us into rocks breaking our trolling motor, and our good captain was knocked into the river. Within the hour we had the boat loaded back onto the trailer. Yet, despite all the difficulties of that day, I was still able to release arrows in the general direction of a few fish, confirming my initial feelings that I was still 100% hooked to the sport of bowfishing.
In the spring of 2012 I decided that it was time to ‘buy in’ to the sport of bowfishing. I started a dedicated search in Boise-area pawn shops for a good used bow (I ended up finding a 1970’s Browning compound for $23). Then researched the types of reels that were out there, settling on the AMS Bowfishing Original Retriever Reel (here is an example of one you can buy at Walmart: http://goo.gl/7wWxf ), and the types of arrows that I would use, going with the Muzzy Arrow with Nock and Carp (here is an example of the one I purchased at Sportsman’s Warehouse: http://goo.gl/GYHnp ).
My first opportunity to use my new bowfishing setup was June 23, 2012. I met my father, brother, and the same family friend that got us into this crazy sport at CJ Strike Reservoir in south western Idaho. Carp spawn the end of June so the timing was perfect. Unlike my previous bowfishing experiences, the weather on this day was absolutely beautiful. Wind was nearly non-existent and the skies were blue. As a result, in the nearly four hours we were on the water we shot upwards of 70+ carp. It is hard to express how much fun I had that day. Granted, a lot the fun I was having had to do with the company I was with. But on that day I gained a new appreciation for an absolutely must-try, completely addicting sport: Bowfishing. Here is a simple homemade video I threw together from that day:
|My brother Chad (left) and I in front of our first off-load of the day |
(picture taken at CJ Strike Reservoir, June 23, 2012)
I am still an avid fly fisherman. As far as outdoor activities are concerned, fly fishing will always be my first love. But if you want to find me during the months of June-August…well, you’ll be better off looking for me in some muddy carp water with a bow in my hand than on a crystal clear river casting a fly rod."
- Jordan L. Allen