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Late spring and all summer are the best times for bowfishing. As spring waters warm, “rough fish,” such as carp, gar, buffalo, burbot, pike, and suckers, begin to move into the shallows of lakes and river backwaters to spawn. Check your current state or provincial sport fishing regulations for equipment restrictions, license requirements, bowfishing seasons, and legal species.

Special Challenge

The primary challenge of hunting fish underwater is compensating for a phenomenon called refraction. Light rays bend as they enter water, making fish appear to be where they aren’t. You must aim lower than a normal sight picture to hit your quarry. Practicing on underwater targets will help you find the correct aiming point.

Bowfisher shooting at fish in water

Bowfishing Equipment

Bowfishing equipment is simple, inexpensive, and available from most sport shops. It consists of:

  • A solid fiberglass arrow which has a specialized fish point and a slide device to which your line is attached. The slide attachment helps prevent the fish arrow from coming back toward the archer if the line gets snagged on part of the bow or if the line does not feed smoothly from its receptacle.
  • Either a large spool or container that screws or tapes right onto your bow and feeds out the line like a standard spinning reel, or a closed-face spin cast reel made especially for bowfishing.
Fiberglass arrow and special bowfishing reel
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