Bowfishing for Fun, Excitement and a Tool to Train Youngsters with Jason Patterson
Editor’s Note: The best thing that we can do as parents is to give our children memories that will last their lifetimes and impart the values and beliefs that we want them to teach to their children. By spending time with our children they learn the importance of family and the need to spend time with their children once they have them. Jason Patterson of Jackson, Tennessee, a member of PSE’s Field Staff, has found that bowhunting with his PSE bow is the thread that connects the generations in his family.
Jason Patterson was introduced to bowhunting many years ago by walking the banks of creeks and rivers and shooting fish from the bank. One day Jennifer McKinney, a Mossy Oak Pro Staffer, called Patterson, an area manager for Mossy Oak, and said, “Why don’t you and Oakley go with me and my crew bowfishing? I think Oakley really will enjoy it, because he’ll get to shoot a lot. So Patterson talked to his son Oakley about the bowfishing trip, and they decided to go this past June. “We were going to fish the Tennessee River near Camden, Tennessee,” Patterson explains. “I had never bowfished like this before, using halogen lights that shined down in the water and a deck where you could stand and shoot. That first night we went out on the water about 9 pm on Kentucky Lake, a lake on the Tennessee River that had a lot of grass in it this year. We moved into the shallow grass, saw fish in the light and shot at them. The buffalo carp, needle nose gar and catfish were moving into this shallow grass to feed at night. Since we could see those fish in shallow water, we thought taking those fish with our bows would be easy. But we soon learned that being successful at taking fish with our bows isn’t as easy as we had thought.” Jason and Oakley Patterson each shot at fish 100 times if not more. And, as Patterson remembers, “We missed a lot more fish than we hit. But we intended to learn more about this form of bowhunting. I also realized that bowfishing was an excellent sport for youngsters.”
When you bowfish on a lake or on a river with numbers of fish in its shallow water, youngsters will have nonstop action. Hunting is fun for youngsters but shooting is even more fun. And, shooting at lots of fish is as good as shooting can be. “We didn’t come off the water until about 4:00 am.,” Patterson reports. “About midnight we ran out of gas for the generator that powered the halogen lights from the boat. When we went back to the dock to get more gas, I asked Oakley if he was ready to go home and go to bed. He quickly said, ‘No, sir, I want to stay longer.’”
Staying up late at night with grown folks is a big deal for youngsters anyway, and then shooting his bow at night and taking a few fish is an adventure that Oakley can tell all his friends and relatives about for the rest of his life. And, Oakley was having fun. “Oakley was really excited about the whole bowfishing program,” Patterson says. “We shot grass carp, buffalo carp and longnose gar, and we had a few chances to shoot catfish.” On his first trip, Oakley took three fish, and his dad took six. “We probably missed at least 150 each,” Patterson reports as he laughs. “I learned that bowfishing could be a very humbling sport. Jennifer McKinney was nice enough to ask us to go a second time. This time we took about 25 fish and two big catfish, one weighing 18 pounds. Although Jennifer also took a nice catfish, once again, we missed more fish than we took.” On this trip, Oakley took a 40 inch gar that weighed about 9 pounds.
Oakley was set on fire about bowfishing. Patterson has an aluminum boat, and he’s already thinking about rigging it up with a platform and lights. Then he and Oakley can bowfish anytime they want. They are also considering each getting a new PSE Wave bow to use for bowfishing. The Wave, designed for bowfishing, should help Jason and Oakley improve on the number of fish they’re taking on each outing. On their first two bowfishing trips, Jason was shooting his PSE Evo, and Oakley was shooting his PSE Chaos. All they had to do was attach a spinning reel to each of these bows and then attach the line from the reel to the fiberglass arrows they were shooting.
“Bowfishing is relatively inexpensive, because you can use any of the bows you have to most any closed face spinning reel and an arrow with a tip on it from Muzzy,” Patterson explains. “Oakley and I both had a blast bowfishing and stayed busy shooting and reloading almost all night long. These two trips provided chances for Oakley and me to really bond and be together. Oakley likes to shoot his bow, and with bowfishing, he had continuous action all night long. I really enjoyed seeing him shoot.’”
Don’t forget that there’s a learning curve in bowfishing, because instead of aiming dead on you have to shoot instinctively and try to aim under the fish. You have to calculate your aiming point with the depth of the water. The fish isn’t usually sitting still – you’re shooting at a moving target. Sometimes the action is so fast that instead of aiming, you have to react, draw and release the bow. In most of the South where temperatures may be in the high 90s and even over 100 degrees in the summertime, often the weather’s too hot for most people to sit in the boat in daylight hours. However, when the sun goes down, the moon comes up, and the temperatures fall, bowfishing can be a pleasant experience. You can build your muscle memory, while practicing a different style of archery.