Most bowfishing happens at night, and a lot of bowfishermen prefer to do bowfishing at night because of how they can target specific fish. You can do it during the day, but a lot of people say that they prefer to bowfish during the night hours. Let’s have a look at some of the most essential tips that can help you with the nighttime bowfishing hunt.
On July 1, 2019, I wrote the article 21 Tips for Bowfishing During the Day. This article is the continuation and completion of that series.
Tip #1: Mount the Lights Below Your Platform
You have a big advantage of raised platforms in that you can mount the lights below the platform for night fishing. In this way, it attracts the bugs to the lights at your feet, rather than at your knees. The bugs will drive you crazy this way, being in your face all night, whereas the other way, you don’t have to worry about it.
Tip #2: Where LED Lights Have the Greatest Advantage
If you plan to shoot in crystal, clear waters, LED lights will usually offer up one of the most distinct advantages because of how the lighting penetrates here easier than what it would with muddy water, but if you plan to shoot in muddy waters, you will want high-pressure lights. That’s because of how this type of lighting will penetrate the water better.
LED lights also have the advantage of being 99 percent maintenance free. Provided they will work in the waters that you plan to use, it can be a good idea to use them for your night time fishing.
Tip #3: Closer Shots at Night
Most likely, if you go bowfishing during the night hours, you will take shots closer to the boat. A lot of shots in bowfishing happen close to the boat, but because of limited visibility of just 30 feet at night, you will especially take shots closer to the boat. The ideal depth of water for bowfishing will be between 3 to 6 feet of water. Shallow water works best because of how the arrow will only penetrate so deep into the water.
Tip #4: Mark the Hotspots on the GPS
Especially when you bowfish at night, you can’t see your hotspots as well, which can make it difficult to find them. To cut down on the time spent searching for them, mark it on the GPS so that you can go to it right away. In the past, you may have had to have an actual GPS, but nowadays, you have GPS apps accessible right from your phone.
Some of the GPS fishing apps that you might check out include:
- Fishing Points
- Fish Rules
Tip #5: Scout ahead of Time
You can increase your chances of success if you first have a plan for where you want to go bowfishing. At night, you may have a harder time navigating a lake or river, but if you scout it during the day, you will have a greater familiarity with it at night.
To scout, you might pull up maps on Google, use one of the fishing apps mentioned or you could even visit your state DNR website, which includes maps of the public waters. If you drive down the road and see a public water that you might like, go check it out.
Tip #6: Understand the Type of Fish You Hunt
Success comes to those who understand the fish they hunt. You should know the types of fish you want and what kind of water they prefer. For example, if you want to bowfish suckers, they prefer clear and running water. Meanwhile, carp bowfishermen should look for murkier and muddier waters because the target fish prefers this.
Perhaps you’re wondering, “Wait a minute. How will I see fish in muddy waters?” Especially at night, muddy water doesn’t become a problem because of how the light from your bowfishing lights will illuminate them in the water, even muddy water, which is the advantage of bowfishing at night.
You will chiefly find buffalo fish and gar in rivers and creeks. Many times, you find your best bowfishing spots through wandering into them, so head out and explore.
Tip #7: The Right Kind of Bow
Regardless of what kind of bow you shoot, one of the most important factors comes from having a bow that you can draw back quickly, and you can shoot fast. You don’t necessarily want to use your best hunting bow for it. Bowfishing is a sport where you will be hard on your bow, and especially at night, you will bump it around in the boat a lot.
You want a bow that can take a lot of abuse because that will help it to last longer. Also, I don’t recommend that you use your best deerhunting bow because of how as I said, a bowfishing bow takes a lot of abuse. You want something that can withstand it and isn’t a big deal if it takes this kind of abuse.
Tip #8: Use Bowfishing Light Colors to Your Advantage
You want to choose the right bowfishing light color to your advantage with bowfishing at night. Usually, cool white lights get used for clear to semi-clear water. Next, you have warm white lights. They use this for waters with poor visibility. For water where you can’t see through it, that is where warm white lights make the most sense.
Finally, you have yellow lighting. This lowers the glare on the water in comparison to the other lights. They made this lighting for the murkier waters.
Tip #9: Why Bowfish for Carp After Dark
It makes sense to grab your bow and head to the water after dark for carp because of how carp tend to calm down in the dark. They don’t spook as easily, which makes them an easier target. These fish tend to feed more heavily at night, but you should also understand how you shouldn’t bowfish for carp at night in the winter months. In the winter months, you will usually want to go after them in the midday.
The feeding activity of carp doesn’t stop altogether in the winter, but like with most fish, it slows down.
Tip #10: Bring Some Bug Spray
The one issue you might find with when you bowfish at night comes from how you have to bring bug spray. That’s because the bugs at night can be infinitely worse than during the day, and this can contribute to not having as much of a fun time. You want to spray some bug spray to keep the mosquitoes and gnats away as much as possible. Don’t let them ruin a good time on the water.
Tip #11: Go with Your Buddies the First Time
Without having to drop a lot of cash on bowfishing lights and other gear, you can go with your buddies to avoid having to pay anything. In this way, too, you can decide if it will be worth the extra cost of investing in a boat and lights. If you do nighttime bowfishing, you will have to have a boat and lights to do it, which will cost.
A lot of bowfishermen prefer the night hunting, however, because of how they can shoot more fish and see them more easily. If you decide to do it during the day, you will need a good pair of polarized glasses so that you can see in the water. Don’t get the cheap $5 Walmart ones because you won’t see much.
Tip #12: May Not Need Lights
You don’t necessarily need to have lights mounted on your boat for the night. In fact, the other option is putting a light on your bow or you could wear a headlamp. This costs less, and it gives you a start with bowfishing. In general, bowfishing bows will usually have a flat bottom because of how this increases the stability of your boat. Look for a wide beam that makes it easier for you to spot the fish.
Important to Note: The lights will attract the gnats and mosquitoes so you will want to wear a buff or a bandana. In addition, as said previously, don’t forget the bug spray.
Tip #13: Clearly Identify Your Shot
Especially when you have chosen to go after carp in muddy water, you should take the time to first identify your shot accurately. You have other animals that you could mistake them for in muddy water like turtles, beavers and waterfowl. Don’t take the shot unless you have 100 percent certainty.
The one advantage of fishing at night is how you can use a bright halogen light to help you identify carp more accurately. Intense lighting puts a good illumination on the fish and helps you to identify them accurately and quickly. With an LED, you may have to take a little more time to accurately identify the fish.
Tip #14: Move Slowly and Quietly
You’d be surprised at how fast you can scare away the fish if you move too quickly or too loudly. When in the boat, try to remain as quiet as possible and don’t move too fast because, believe it or not, the fish can spot this. With a generator which you will need for the lights at night, you may not have to worry as much about your own noise, but you still want to move slowly to keep from alarming the fish.
Tip #15: The Carp Disperse
Always remember that after you let loose the arrow, the surrounding carp will disperse and scatter, whether you hit the carp or not. For that reason, you should take time to be as accurate as possible.
I wrote a previous bowfishing article on this titled, How to Improve Bowfishing Accuracy, which could be helpful if you’re looking to improve your shooting.
After you have taken the shot, you will either have to wait for the carp to re-group, or you will have to seek out another group of them, but you can go a long ways through improving your shot.
Tip #16: Raised Platforms
Especially for night shooting, you will find how raised platforms on your boat will help to make shooting and sighting easier. You don’t necessarily need a raised platform, but it will make your job much easier. For someone who has a fixed budget, this might be out of the question. The beauty of bowfishing, however, is that you don’t have to worry about cost. You can be as fancy or as spartan as you’d like.
Some of the other benefits of a raised platform on your bowfishing boat include:
- Raises your center of gravity
- Weight savings
- Good for mounting above the lights
- Improved shooting accuracy
Tip #17: Get a Quiet Generator
When you go bowfishing at night, the lighting matters. You need a generator to power the lights if you will bowfish at night. The generator powers the bowfishing lights so that you can see into the water to shoot the fish. However, a louder generator will scare off many of the carp. For that reason, the quieter your generator, the better off you will be in terms of getting fish. For that, the Yamaha EF2000iSv2 is one of the higher end models, but it runs quietly and the Smart Throttle improves fuel efficiency while prolonging the life of the engine.
Understandably, not everyone can afford this, which is where you might choose the medium ranged Champion 2000.
Granted, you could also choose battery power, but a lot of people dislike doing battery power because of how it doesn’t penetrate the waters as well.
Tip #18: Best Fish to Hunt After Nightfall
Some fish species will inevitably be a better target after nightfall. Carp, for example, aren’t as good of a target during the daytime because of how they spook easily. At night, they become more active. Some of the other fish species that you can target at night, include:
- Grass Carp
Hopefully these tips for bowfishing at night can help you to have more success during the night hours. A lot of bowfisherman prefer to do it at night, and I myself prefer it because of how the lights illuminate the fish better, and you can see them more clearly at night.