Once you’ve found a suitable body of water for bowfishing on, you need to know how to locate fish in that body of water. Since bowfishing is a sight-reliant activity, you can’t rely on technology to find fish for you like rod-and-reel fishermen can. If you’re fishing a new area and aren’t sure how to go about finding fish, keep these tips in mind: First, you need to be able to see the fish to shoot them, so water clarity is important. Second, you need to be in shallow water so you can get an arrow into the fish when you shoot, so keep water depth in mind. And third, finding a food source will lead to seeing fish.
Let’s start with the first point, water clarity. Simply put, bowfishing in clear water makes it easier to see fish. It also makes it easier to identify them before taking a shot. Stained or muddy water can make it tough to identify fish, and with that comes the risk of shooting an off-limit species. The ability to identify fish quickly comes with experience, which will make it easier to fish in less-than-ideal conditions. If you’re just starting out, it might be a good idea to stick to fishing in clear, calm conditions when possible.
Water depth is also an important factor. While you can find carp, buffalo and other rough fish in deeper water, it doesn’t do much good if you can’t hit them hard enough for the arrow to penetrate. Most bowfishing takes place in 5-6 feet of water or less, which makes shallow lakes and rivers ideal bowfishing locations.
Just like searching for game fish, you can also target rough fish by finding a food source. In shallow lakes, as well as slow-moving rivers and backwaters, this means looking for some sort of soft vegetation to find fish, especially during spawning season. Bigmouth buffalo, for example, lay adhesive eggs in highly vegetated waters that can protect their eggs until they hatch. Common carp, which are omnivorous, feed primarily on the bottom of lakes and rivers but can be found in and around weed beds. The appropriately-named grass carp feeds primarily on aquatic plants, and therefore prefer lakes and backwaters that have a high supply of freshwater vegetation. Other rough fish, such as alligator gar in the southern United States, use vegetation as cover for spawning as well.
Do you have questions, comments or tips of your own on how to find fish in a body of water? Leave your comment below, we’d love to hear from you!