Bowfishing Ohio's Muddy Waters
Two teenagers equipped with bows and arrows standing up in a canoe, probably isn't the safest way to float down a river. Yet, this is how we spend most every summer day that provided little cloud cover as well as no recent rain fall. Both of these conditions are critical for a successful day of bowfishing. On this particular day, I had slept in and didn't hit the water until about eleven am. My dad who has never hunted, decided today would be a good day to tag along and see what all this bowfishing madness was about. He sure chose an impressive day to attend the show.
As we floated down the Little Miami River in south west Ohio, I shot a handful of carp and two smaller needle nose gar. Conditions were flawless and I knew that if there was a big boy out there, I was not going to miss him. Without a single cloud in the sky, you could see almost three feet under the surface of the murky water. It was high noon now and was getting hot. This is the perfect time to find gar surface basking in the sunshine while they pick off small fish. We floated into the most fruitful waters of the whole float and began to cruise back and forth.
It wasn't long before we saw the sticklike jaws of the gars break the surface. To the right side of the boat, a very large fish breached and began swimming into the depths quickly. I knew I only had one moment to make it happen. As I stood in the front of the canoe, I came to full draw and aligned my arrow several feet in front of where the fish surfaced. I did this for two reasons, to compensate for water refraction, and to sink the arrow deep enough to catch up with the escaping fish. We don't use peep sights when bow fishing because you have to mount a reel on the side on your bow that doesn't allow for your sights to stay on. This is a strictly point and aim game, just as if you were shooting a long bow.
I held for no more than a second and released. The arrow disappeared below the water and line began ripping out of my reel. I hit him! I had made a successful shot on a fish about twenty yards away and two feet under water. Then the fight began. I had not actually seen the entire fish yet, just his beak. But judging from that, it was a monster. It took over twenty minutes to get the fish boat side. When he was parallel with us, I realized this fish was almost four feet long. I would have loved to have had one of those "bang sticks" the gator hunter s down south use, but no such luck.
With some help from my dad, we got the beast aboard and began our celebration. This was not only the largest fish I had ever shot with my bow, but also the largest freshwater fish I had ever caught period. Once he was in the boat our only objective was to get to the truck. When we got home we snapped a few photos and brought out the measuring tape. He was an unbelievable 46 inches. Only two inches short of Ohio's needle nose gar bowfishing state record. State record or not, he holds the title in my house!