Bowfishing with Your PSE Bow
Bowfishing and Deer Hunting – the Similarities
Editor’s Note: Wives and children like baking in the sun and swimming in the gulf or the ocean. However, if you don’t enjoy getting sand between your toes, having a sunburned back and having salt water in your nose and mouth, then consider bowfishing for saltwater fish. But be sure to check the state’s regulations where you’re vacationing to know which species you can and can’t take before planning a saltwater bowfishing trip. Fortunately PSE offers a wide variety of bowfishing tackle at reasonable prices that will enable you to get started in this sport. The good news about bowfishing in salt water where permitted is that you also can get tasty fillets to eat. If you enjoy both hunting and fishing, bowfishing enables you to participate in both sports all year. Folks can hunt with a bow when deer season and turkey season end, although the game has neither fur nor feathers but rather scales. And, a fish in the skillet is still a fish in the skillet, whether you take it on hook and line or with a bow and arrow. This week, let’s look at bowfishing with PSE.
Bo Hamilton of Biloxi, Mississippi, thoroughly enjoys bowfishing for sheepshead and redfish. Here’s what he’s learned on his bowfishing hunts.
You may shoot 50 times at fish with a bow and arrow at night and still not get a limit of redfish or even three or four sheepshead.
A bowhunting trip can’t be more fun and exciting than flying through the shallow marshes on an airboat at night to bowfish.
People who don’t know how to shoot bows and/or don’t know how to fish still can participate in this sport of bowfishing for redfish and sheepshead at night.
A shooter doesn’t need great strength, nor does he or she have to have mastered the sport of bowhunting to shoot at fish at night with a bow.
“You’ll enjoy far-more sport taking a saltwater fish with a bow and arrow than catching a fish on a rod and reel,” Hamilton explains. “Too, the fish has a better chance of escaping from the bowhunter than it does from the angler. When the lights at night hit a saltwater fish, the fish reminds me of a deer when it hears a pack of hounds coming after it and has a running chance of getting away.”
Nighttime Bowfishing with PSE
A few years ago, outdoor writer John E. Phillips bowfished in Louisiana with a bowfishing guide and two novice bowhunters who never had bowfished before or shot a redfish or a sheepshead. Before they left on the trip, the bowfishing guide told them, “We take many first-time bowfishermen out on their first bowfishing trips. We’ve taught secretaries, accountants, corporate executives, factory workers and mill hands how to shoot bows, aim at the fish and take the fish. Too, we also have many 3-D archers and bowhunters who are looking for an off-season sport who go bowfishing with us. We always have lots of fun on each trip and take some fish. And, our guests have experiences they’ll never forget.” The novice bowfishermen never before had put on ear protection like you wear at a rifle range to go bowhunting or fishing. However, hunting from an airboat that sounds like the roar of a jet engine as an airplane takes off makes the ear protection mandatory, when you run between the shallow-water bays where they hunted for the redfish and the sheepshead. The decks of most airboats can accommodate three shooters at a time. Each shooter takes the fish that he or she sees show-up in the halogen lights beneath his or her shooting station. Perhaps I need to reword that. Each shooter has the opportunity to shoot at the redfish and the sheepshead that show up in his or her lights.
When you spot a redfish, you first must make sure that the fish has the legal length for you to harvest it (check your state’s regulations). Then you have to draw, aim and shoot quickly, because of the movement of both you and the fish. You also have to aim somewhat under the fish due to the way the light refracts the image of the fish. The fish’s scaly sides will appear higher in the water than the fish’s actual position. After missing a number of fish while bowfishing, these novice bowfishermen learned that shooting instinctively produced more fish for them than their attempting to aim and calculate their shots.
The PSE Equipment You Need for Bowfishing
When outdoor writer John E. Phillips started bowfishing, his bowfishing guide, explained, “The bows we use for bowfishing can be quickly modified to adjust for a shooter’s draw length and the amount of poundage he or she can pull. The people who bowfish with us quickly and easily can learn how to shoot bows, since we can modify the bow to fit each one and the weight these bowhunters can pull comfortably and shoot accurately.” PSE has three bow-fishing packages from which you can choose – the Nova and the Barracuda – both compounds – and the Kingfisher, a recurve. You can purchase only the bow or the package that includes the bow, reel, line, rest, bowfishing arrows with safety slide and bowfishing points. Each of PSE’s bowfishing arrows with points come outfitted with the safety slide installed, a point and a nock, so that you can shake the fish off the arrows quickly, re-nock the arrows and prepare to shoot again – particularly when you get into an area with a large school of redfish or sheepshead.
The Adventure of Bowfishing with PSE
Bowfishing from an airboat in the black night of a murky back bay will make your bowfishing mission exciting. You’ll run-through marsh grass, jump over small mounds of dirt, drop-into shallow bays and often see hundreds of different fish on your quest. Oftentimes when you reach a shallow bay where you want to bowfish, you’ll see huge numbers of a wide variety of fish. However, then by the time you leave the seat where you’ve ridden, walk to the shooting platform, pick up your bow, get your arrow nocked and situate yourself on the shooting platform, all the fish you’ve originally seen may have disappeared. But as the airboat makes its way through the shallow bays, you’ll still spot plenty of fish. You’ll see so-many redfish and sheepshead, you’ll remind yourself of a quail hunter who flushes a covey out from under his feet and watches the birds go in every direction – never picking out just one quail at which to shoot. The excitement of jumping a covey of quail or a school of fish becomes part of why you will love the sport of bowfishing in salt water and will have so much fun participating in it.
And the adventure continues when you prepare some of the fillets you’ve taken with your PSE bowfishing equipment. Here’s a couple of favorites.
1 3- or 4-pound redfish, dressed
Pepper to taste
1 tablespoon salad oil
Juice of one lemon
1/4-cup melted butter
Parsley for garnish
1 lemon, sliced
Rub fish with salt, pepper and oil. Grease broiler rack or pan before placing fish on it. Place close to fire at first to sear the surface of the fish, then turn, sear second side quickly. Complete cooking a little distance from the fire, turning the broiler several times during the cooking process. If you don’t wish to turn the fish, cook until the fish flakes easily when tested with a fork and is browned on the surface. You may wish to transfer the broiler rack or pan to the oven proper to cook, if you don’t want to turn the fish. The time of cooking will depend on the thickness of the fish. Thin fillets will require from 8 to 12 minutes with thin whole fish from 12 to 20 minutes. Thick fish (one-inch thick) will take from 15 to 25 minutes. When fish is done, pour melted butter and lemon juice over it, garnish with parsley and sliced lemon and serve.
Put a sheepshead fillet in a well-beaten egg, coat it with Zatarain’s Fish-Fri, and then drop it in hot oil. Drain on paper towels.
Tony Chachere’s Original Creole Seasoning or some similar spice mixture
Coat the sheepshead fillets with the creole seasoning. Place a small amount of olive oil on each side of the fillet. Then either grill the fillet or pan-fry it in a really-hot black-iron skillet. The real secret to having tasty fish fillets is to not overcook it. The conversion rate of sheepshead to fillets is higher than you think. Twenty big sheepsheads will fill two or three, 1-gallon bags with about 7 pounds of fillets in each bag.
Bowfishing – Recurves Versus Compounds
How long has it been since you’ve shot a recurve? Have you ever shot instinctively? Do you even know how to shoot instinctively? Do you need to know how to shoot instinctively? Why should you shoot instinctively, since today PSE has compound bows, sights, mechanical releases and all the other advantages that the newer bows offer? Sometimes progress can be one step back, something outdoor writer John E. Phillips learned on his first saltwater bowfishing trip. He chose to shoot a recurve, because he hadn’t shot one since his high-school days, and Phillips’ guide and his friends were shooting recurves. Philips realized that since he’d have to draw and shoot quickly that the recurve was a much-faster way to draw and shoot than a compound bow would be. “Just look at the fish, draw the bow, and shoot,” the bowfishing guide said. When Phillips first started shooting at fish, all he got when he retrieved his arrow was mud. But each time he tried to shoot instinctively, he noticed his arrows started landing closer to his scaly targets. About one or two hours into the trip, he realized that his instincts had taken over, and he could hit the fish at which he was shooting. If you’re more interested in the process rather than the product, and you don’t mind failing to finally succeed, a step back into the olden days of the shooting the recurve instinctively offers as much fun and challenge as actually taking the fish. However, if you’re more success oriented and prefer to shoot what you know, PSE has bowfishing tackle and bows with wheels and let-offs more like the bows you shoot when you hunt deer or competition shoot.
An advantage of bowfishing in the spring and summer and shooting instinctively means that in a good area of salt water, you’ll have plenty of targets, numerous opportunities to shoot and many chances to try your hand at shooting instinctively, if you wish to do that. However, if you prefer to bowfish with a compound, you can shoot some of the newer bowfishing bows that PSE offers. But you’ll still be shooting at unknown targets, and in most instances you’ll have to get the shot off quickly. Regardless of which PSE bow you pick to bowfish with, you can have a grand time this summer bowfishing in the shallow waters of back bays and lagoons and taking delicious saltwater fish.
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