Bowfishing Tips for Beginners – How to Bowfish for Asian Carp

one of the most fun effective and

challenging methods for harvesting Asian

carp are similar species of fish is that

of bow fishing in recent years since the

Asian carp population explosion bow

fishing has become wildly popular it can

be done from a large boat a canoe or

kayak or on foot stalking the shorelines

no matter if you're fishing from land

are on the water though bow fishing is

basically done by first spotting the

fish then accurately shooting a

specially designed arrow through it and

finally successfully landing it all of

which can be quite challenging in this

video we'll take a look at the basics of

bow fishing specifically in regard to

Asian carp we'll look at everything from

essential gear to proven bow fishing

tactics before we get into the specifics

of bow fishing let's first take a look

at the fish themselves in this case the

Asian carp now I've done many other

videos on Asian carp and I've written a

complete guide book on the subject that

goes into much greater detail but to

offer a quick overview there are four

species of Asian carp the silver carp

the bighead carp the grass carp and

finally the black carp all of which are

a major threat to native fish

populations and wildlife habitat and are

currently causing unprecedented

ecological chaos the black carp looks

similar to the grass carp what is the

least prevalent and most elusive of the

four Asian carp species black carp are

primarily bottom feeders who eat mussels

and snails thus unless they're hanging

around in very shallow water they're

usually not a major target for bow

fishing the silver and bighead carp

whose population equals that of a

biblical plague are one of the primary

targets for bow fishing as filter

feeders the silver and bighead species

tend to hang out in shallower depths

sometimes right under or even on the

water's surface as they feed on plankton

which makes them fairly easy to spot in

the right conditions

finally the grasscarp who can eat up to

two to three times their body weight a

day and aquatic vegetation resulting in

massive native fish and wildlife habitat

destruction is another primary target

for bow fishing as they regularly hang

out in very shallow water and often

right along the bank the best time of

year to bow fish for Asian carp is the

late spring and summer months as the

fish tend to move into shallow water to

feed and spawn bright sunny days with

little or no wind are generally the best

as those are optimal conditions for

spotting the fish and while early

morning and evening hours can certainly

produce some great fishing the mid-day

hours are among the most productive as

the more direct sunlight helps immensely

with seeing the fish cloudy windy rainy

days are pretty much a waste of time as

precipitation and high winds make

spotting the fish virtually impossible


welcome everybody it's one of my

favorite bow fishing locations I'm out

here in a Missouri river bottom swamp

wetland area that's loaded with Asian

carp and before we get into talking

about the actual specifics in regards to

bow fishing techniques I wanted to first

take a few moments and talk about

essential bow fishing gear to start

things off let's talk about clothing

obviously you can wear it whatever you

want when you go bow fishing but bow

fishing is actually much more like bow

hunting we are actively stalking your

prey especially if your bow fishing from

the land and kind of sneaking along a

river bank our Slough somewhere these

Asian carp are very very spooky they

startle very easily you know if you move

too fast or if they seize then you know

just a sudden change and the color and

contrast of the the environment and

their background are too heavy of a

footfall they're gone in a hurry so

again they're very very very sensitive

fish you really got to sneak up on them

and be as stealthy as you can and just

like with bow hunting you know using

camouflage clothing or earth-tone

clothing basically blending into your

environment can certainly give you an


so if you're gonna be bow fishing in an

environment where there's a lot of woods

a lot of bushes a lot of heavy thick

brush all around you in close quarters I

recommend like a you know simple green

or earth tone color or I'll use you know

kind of a standard camouflage pattern to

help you blend in more if you're gonna

be a boat or shooting off of a dock or

on a real steep Bank or the only

background is gonna be the sky up above

you then I'm you might want to choose

something that's more of a kind of a sky

or like a water color pattern that works

really good to blend in in that

situation if you're going to be bow

fishing along a big river main channel

somewhere kind of down on the river bank

where there's a lot of big bleached out

boulders and dirt and sand and stuff

like that kind of a neutral setting you

know we're in kind of a neutral gray is

a good choice for a situation like that

as far as pants you know if it's real

hot like today and you're not going to

be in any real thick heavy brush you can

get by with your shorts but in

situations where there's going to be a

lot of bugs a lot of ticks a lot of

chiggers possibly snakes poison ivy and

all that fun stuff we're in the long

pants you know it's highly advisable

I've always liked these pants from 511

there this is their a lightweight

model they're super tough you know a

nice flat green color tons of pockets

they're made I think with the same stuff

they used for making bulletproof vests

so they're super super tough and those

are great so that's a few quick

suggestions for clothing for your bow

fishing adventures okay a few

suggestions for Footwear again if you're

going to be a situation when there's a

lot of heavy thick brush and rocks and

rough terrain I recommend something like

just a standard hunting boot is a good

choice if your going to be more in real

sloppy stuff you're actually going to be

in the water and kind of walking around

in real wet environments something like

a rubber or neoprene knee boot like

these tried-and-true extra Tufts is a

great choice if you're going to be on a

boat or just along a path and a much

more sort of a gentle environment you

can get by with wearing shoes you know

tennis shoes something like that it's a

little more comfortable a few more

things you'll want to have with you on

your bow fishing adventure if it's a

real hot blazing sunny day of course you

want to have some sunscreen you can get

sunburned really easy and kind of sneaks

up on you along with that I really like

these long-sleeve lightweight fishing

shirts you know you can get these in all

different colors and camel patterns

again they're super lightweight and

breathable they do a good job of keeping

the bugs off you of course being

long-sleeve they keep this up you know

and those are just a great choice for

all day use if you're gonna be out there

all day and of course your bug spray I

like to use something with DEET on my

clothing especially around my waist or

around my my ankles and arms and things

like that from actual skin I'll use a

non deep based repellent which is of

course a lot healthier for you but most

bowfishing environments are loaded with

bugs so you'll not want to forget your

bug repellent a few more thoughts in

regards to clothing and protecting

yourself from the elements on your bow

fishing trips hat is always a good piece

of equipment I'll wear a wide brimmed

hat on a real blazing hot sunny day

again to keep the Sun off my ears and

off my neck again it can really sneak up

on you and burn the heck out of you

after a while and something that's

vitally important it's absolutely

essential is to have a good set of

polarized sunglasses polarized lenses

are absolutely essential for cutting

through the glare on the water surface

so you can see down a little bit deeper

and spot those fish

here's a few more things you might want

to have along on your bow fishing

adventure backpack cooler can always

come in really handy if you're going to

be hiking or walking into your bow

fishing location or taking a canoe where

you're not going to be able to bring

along a big heavy-duty cooler or maybe

you don't have access to a Live Well a

backpack cooler is a great choice you

know you can load this thing up with a

couple of ice packs and put your fish

fillets and you know a couple of big

heavy-duty non-scented garbage bags and

you're good to go you're a walking fish

processing plant and along with that I

keep my more central gear you know in a

separate dry bag and now what I have in

here is everything I need for process an

Asian carp right there in the spot and

that includes for one a fish club after

I arrow my fish and bring them to shore

I like to knock them out and dispatch

them immediately using a fish club after

I knock them out I proceed to cut their

gills so I always have a good sharp

filet knife with me I did a whole video

about this a while ago about processing

and cleaning Asian carp I'll leave a

link to that in the video description

but it's really important to bleed out

your fish no matter what kind of fish it

is when you bleed them out immediately

you're going to get a fantastic

delicious and just a much higher quality

fish filet than if you don't bleed them

out so I really highly recommend

bleeding out your fish and again to do

that you just knock them out immediately

dispatch them slice the gills on both

sides and then put them on a stringer

for about 10-15 minutes so always have a

nice stringer with me put them on that

put them back in the water for 10-15

minutes after they bleed out I'll then

fillet immediately and in the field I

don't worry too much about doing a

perfect job I just kind of flame as best

I can put them on ice in my cooler and

then I do kind of a more you know

detailed job when I get back home a few

final things in my bag of tricks here I

like to always have a mosquito head net

with me sometimes you're in a situation

where the bugs are so bad that your

insect repellent does no good at all

keeping them away so in that case

nothing beats a little $5.00 head net

that can save you an unbelievable amount

of misery and

along with that I could bring along my

handy dandy scale and measuring device

you have to get those really big monster

Asian carp it's always fun to kind of

wham and measure them and I've got my

woodland toileting kit in here in case

nature calls and that's pretty much it

so again that's just a couple

suggestions for things you might want to

bring along on your bow fishing

adventure now let's talk about the fun

stuff the actual bow fishing bow and

arrow and reel and all the essential

gear and regard to actual bows for bow

fishing there's lots of options today

now since bow fishing has gotten so

popular over the past decade due to the

Asian carp invasion explosion lots of

people all over the country are getting

into bow fishing and as a result a lot

of archery manufacturers now make

complete combo kits with your bow your

bow fishing real your arrow all your

accessories and one handy dandy package

but if you're not quite committed yet

and don't want to spend the money on a

complete bow fishing package there's

some other options available and one of

those is to get either a used compound

or recurve bow off of ebay

there's hundreds if not thousands of

used bows out there that you can use for

bow fishing I got this one for like 40


you know the string and the cable was in

good shape you want to make sure it's

the right draw length and the right

poundage but once you have those the

basic information down you can get a bow

that will fit you and fit your shooting

needs and your body structure again very

very cheaply you're going to be needing

a bow fishing reel for your bow fishing

bow and these come in different models

and different styles

there's your more old-school style which

is just a big kind of open spool that

you attach to the front of your bow and

now these are a popular choice for

people who shoot recurve bows who are

gonna be shooting at fairly close

distances they do seem to impede your

accuracy some just because of the way

the the string comes flying off this

huge spool more popular choice these

days which a lot of people are using is

the bottle style of reel there's about

Oh 20 to 50 yards of 200 400-pound nylon

string in these and you attach this to

your arrow or hit the release button and

kind of like a standard fishing reel

upon the release of your arrow all goes

flying out then you just kind of crank

it in like a regular fishing

and there's a few other different

designs out there as well again it's

just a matter of preference a matter of

how much you want to spend on your bow

fishing setup next on the list in regard

to terminal gear is your bow fishing

arrow now a bow fishing arrow is not

like a standard arrow that you'd use

just for target practice surfer bow

hunting a bow fishing arrow is a solid

chunk of fiberglass they're very heavy

as you can see there's no vanes or no

fletchings on the end of this and the

way these tips work sea line get close

up here most these bow fishing arrows

have a screw on tip with this enormous

barb and the tip comes off so you want

to put that on there and once you shoot

your fish ideally of course it goes all

the way through your fish and upon

retrieval those Barb's you know catch on

the end of the fish and of course you

can't yank too hard just like fishing

you got to kind of do a you know sort of

a tug-of-war game don't want to pull too

hard don't when it pulls too light you

got to bring in your fish with the right

amount of pressure so you don't

sometimes they actually do come off so

you got to be aware of that but once you

get your fish secured on the bank to

release the arrow you take off that take

off that tip reverse the Barb and then

it'll come right out of the fish so

that's sort of your typical design for

bow fishing arrows and also the more

up-to-date modern bow fishing arrows

have this slide mechanism and highly

highly recommend making sure your arrow

has a slide mechanism back in the olden

days people would just sort of tie a

string to an arrow like this and fling

it out and sometimes it would come back

sometimes it would cause all kinds of

accidents the sliding mechanism really

ensures a safe accurate release of your

arrow so make sure your bow fishing

arrow rig as a safety slide mechanism

one final very important accessory for

your bow fishing setup is to have the

proper arrow rest for your bow now most

arrow rest that are designed just for

target shooting or bow hunting they are

kind of spring-loaded or their have the

kind of a whisker biscuit they don't

have a real heavy strong means of

support so these ones that are designed

specifically for bow fishing it's a real

heavy-duty no-nonsense style rest I use

this one from mozzie I think keeps your

arrow and play

but you want to make sure you've got the

proper style of bow fishing rest when

it's designed specifically for bow

fishing so that's an overview of the

essential things you'll need to get out

there and start bow fishing and it is

getting hot out here I'm starting to

sweat like crazy so let's get out to the

water and we'll talk about some more

actual bow fishing tactics the first

step in bow fishing is to spot and

clearly identify your target but before

that you need to know where to go

fishing in the first place if you don't

know where some potentially good

locations may be for bow fishing Asian

carp in your area a quick call to your

local conservation our Fish and Game

Department will most likely provide you

with a wealth of information it's also

good to check on what areas are open to

bow fishing as there are restrictions in

some places so once you have a

potentially good location for your bow

fishing efforts it's time to start

looking for the fish as I mentioned

earlier Asian carp are extremely wary

and startled very easily so when you're

scouting around for fish move very

slowly and very quietly and be sure that

you have a good pair of polarized

sunglasses to be able to better spot the

fish under the surface of the water

Asian carp can be difficult to spot as

they often live in muddy rather

turbulent water conditions so first of

all begin your fish scouting efforts in

areas where the water is fairly calm and

somewhat shallow now if there's good

visibility or at least some clarity to

the water and there's not a lot of wind

disturbing the surface you'll be able to

see the fish fairly easily if they're

around but you'll also have to be

patient when you find a potentially good

spot stay put for a while and wait and

see if any fish moved through the area

our surface before heading on down the


what you'll be specifically looking for

when trying to spot Asian carp

especially in not so clear water

conditions are the tell-tale signs of

fish feeding moving around are holding

fairly close to the surface now this

might only look like a dark submarine

like shape slowly rising up or going

down and it's sometimes accompanied by

pulsating concentric rings made by the

sucking motion of the Asian carp while

their filter-feeding are eating

vegetation on other occasions you might

only be able to spot the fish by a long

dark sliver of color moving through the

water which is the top of the fish's

back another means of spotting the fish

is what's known as ghosting which is

when a relatively quick pale or silvery

color flashes under the water when the

carp are moving around so again be

patient and really spend some time

analyzing the water


let me also offer a very important word

of caution in regard to spotting Asian

carp and that is it's critical to

clearly identify your target in muddy

water where the fish are hard to see

keep in mind that other species of fish

along with turtles and even diving and

swimming waterfowl can be the source of

those underwater manifestations dark

shapes and flashing colors so don't take

a shot unless you're 100% certain that

it's a target fish like any other

outdoor skill the more you bow fish and

spend time an Asian carp country the

easier and more accurately you'll be

able to clearly identify what you're

looking for a final option for clearly

identifying Asian carp in stained water

conditions is to fish at night and use a

bright halogen spotlight the intense

light significantly illuminates the

water making it very easy to spot and

shoot your target fish

as I mentioned earlier a great way to

stack the odds in your favor when bow

fishing for Asian carp is to use

camouflage clothing an additional method

from minimizing your presence and

significantly silencing your approach is

to bow fish out of a canoe or a fishing

kayak when quietly gliding along in such

a vessel you can often float right over

the top of entire schools of Asian carp

even in shallow water and not startle

them at all or at least startle them

very little now when it comes to

actually taking the shot keep in mind

that the diffraction of sunlight hitting

the water causes an optical illusion of

the fish being shallower than it

actually is

that being the case you have to always

aim low keep in mind too that once you

let that arrow fly whether you connect

or not all the fish in the area will

most likely disperse instantaneously so

after the shot you'll most likely have

to let the carp regroup for a while

which they often do eventually or the

other option is to move on and hunt down

another school of fish as far as

suggestions for connecting on fish

regularly with your bow and arrow

practice is the name of the game whether

you shoot with a sight on your bow or

instinctively that is with no sights

repetition leads to consistent success

again like everything else in life the

more you do it the better you get one

easy way to sharpen your bow fishing

skills is by taking practice shots on

small sticks or leaves or any other kind

of debris that may be floating around in

the water and makes a good target just

to make sure you're not target

practicing in an area where there's a

lot of big rocks which will no doubt

damage your arrow or at least greatly

dull your tip another suggestion is to

throw slices of wheat bread in the water

for your target practice which may also

help to attract the Karpin to the area

when the bread eventually breaks down

and dissolves now as far as the

specifics of what to do with your fish

after you successfully arrow and land

one that's a whole other series of

topics to explore many of which I've

made other videos about so

I invite you to check those out and be

sure to subscribe to this channel for

future bowfishing videos as well and

again if you'd like to learn more about

Asian carp in general check out my book

eat the enemy it's a complete guidebook

to catching and cooking Asian carp

including 50 mouth-watering Asian carp

recipes to order your copy today click

on the link in the video description

below and finally if you'd like to shop

online for a wide variety of world-class

outdoor gear click on the link in the

video description below or visit wild

revelation outdoors at wild revelation