In the Midwestern state of Missouri, you can bowfish 24 hours a day wherever they allow commercial fishing. This sport has grown in popularity over the years and with good reason. We need it to help clean up our environment from the invasive Asian carp, which have taken over some of the waterways in the United States. Bowfishing can be great fun while doing a positive deed for your country—it’s patriotic to bowfish!
In case you don’t have a bowfishing bow, I’d recommend that you check out an article that I wrote here on the best bowfishing bows. Even if you don’t currently need a bowfishing bow, it can be fun to have a look at what’s available.
Is Bowfishing Legal in Missouri?
You can shoot as many carp as you’d like in Missouri since it’s legal in the state. Bowfishermen can take to public lakes, rivers and reservoirs. Missouri allows you to shoot as many non-game fish as you’d like, which means the carp, buffalo, gar, suckers, carpsuckers and drum. The state allows you to bowfish for some types of gamefish as well like green sunfish and bluegill. Keep in mind, this varies from one state to the next, and you should always check for the most up-to-date information like with your local authorities.
While they don’t place a limit on the invasive fish species in the state like silver, bighead and carp, they do have a limit on the non-game species native to the region like gar and buffalo.
You need to buy a fishing license before bowfishing in the state, but you don’t need anything else. In case you’re curious about the bowfishing laws in other states, check out this article that I wrote here.
Bowfishing Season Missouri: When Can You Bowfish?
You can bowfish year-round in the state of Missouri because they don’t have a particular season for bowfishing. Beware of the smaller lakes because while the larger lakes tend to allow bowfishing, the smaller lakes may have a policy of pole and reel only.
The Missouri bowfishing regulations can prove murky and even some of the agents don’t fully understand them. Keep a copy of your regulation book nearby in case someone comes and tries to give you problems.
To hit the best action, the ideal bowfishing season is around late-April to early-May when the carp first spawn. You can hit them either during the day or at night. Check for water temperatures of between 62 to 64 degrees Fahrenheit.
To check out the regulations, visit this section on this site. Scroll down the page, enter the county and pick the MDC area that you want. Then click the area regulations, which will give you the most up-to-date information on bowfishing in your area. You can tell if the lake counts as pole and line only or if you can hitch up your boat and go bowfishing.
What Bowfishing Guides Can You Use in Missouri?
Bowfishing guides come in handy when you want to make a special occasion more special, or you don’t have a bowfishing boat, but you would still like to try bowfishing. The cost is usually around $200 to $300 per person in the state, and you can usually put a maximum of four people in the boat, depending on the charter. You can take people of all ages and backgrounds on a bowfishing charter.
Some of the available bowfishing companies that you may want to check out include:
- Firehouse Bowfishing & Outdoors LLC (Rogersville, Missouri)
- Kill-M-Dead Bowfishing Charters (Marquand, Missouri)
- Stained Water Bowfishing (Branson, Missouri)
What Missouri Rivers Can You Bowfish On?
Many of the best bowfishing spots come on the river because you often see the carp and other rough fish out in the rivers. We will cover the best rivers in Missouri to go bowfishing on here:
- Moreau River
- Missouri River
- Osage River
- Meremec River
- Bagnell Dam
A tributary of the Missouri River situated in Cole County to the southwest of Jefferson City, the Moreau River has a lot of Asian carp, and you can shoot them right from shore. Many people reported having tons of fun at this location. One of the interesting times to shoot carp on the Moreau River and the Missouri River is when the cotton starts to fall. It will fall on the river, and the grass carp will go to eat it. You can take your shot at that moment.
If you plan to bowfish during the day, you will want to have a good pair of good polarized sunglasses to see the fish. I wrote an article about that here.
Typically, you can find the carp right along the shallow banks of the Moreau. During the day, look for them along the shadier parts of the river. Many bowfishermen report how the carp and gar here take an all-or-nothing approach. You will either see them everywhere, or you will have a hard time seeing them at all. It depends on the day.
The bowfishing season in Missouri can be done all year long for carp, whereas, gamefish in Missouri opens July 1 and runs through to December 31.
You can check out more of the bowfishing along the Missouri River here:
The Osage River goes straight through the Lake of Ozarks and the Truman Reservoirs. Many bowfishermen in Missouri like going to the Osage River because the action is red hot. You can come out shooting a whole bunch of carp, and there’s so many that some of them jump right in your boat.
You can see the night action on the Osage here and how wild it can get:
Beware of how you can’t take anything above the trophy waters, but you can take below the trophy waters. We would advise that you check ahead of time to get the most updated information. With the Meramec River, don’t make your judgment off a single day there because it can shift. One day, you may not see much, and the next day, you might see tons of carp on it. You will find many Asian carp on the Meramec.
You can check out bowfishing from a kayak on the Meramec here:
One of the cool things about bowfishing from a kayak comes from how the fish will pull you around in the boat once you pierce them with the arrow. While I’ve never gone bowfishing in a kayak, I have gone fishing in a kayak, and the experience is the same.
You can learn more about the regulations around the Osage and Bagnell Dam here—this includes the fishing regulations.
One of the honorable mentions that we would like to cover, you can especially find bighead carp at Bagnell Dam. Many bowfishermen go here just for the bighead, but you can also shoot gar here. You can access the dam at the base of the dam on the Osage River. Be aware of how there are restricted zones here that you aren’t allowed to access.
Here’s some great footage to help you decide if you want to bowfish at Bagnell Dam:
You can shoot as many bighead carp, common carp, silver carp, grass carp and goldfish as you want. Along the tailwaters of the Mississippi, you have a great opportunity to shoot some gar too. The Mississippi is one of the great bowfishing spots in Missouri.
To give you an idea about the size of the carp that you can bowfish here, an Illinois bowfisherman shot a 92-pound carp on the Mississippi River. Granted, it was in Illinois, but that state borders with Missouri.
To put that record into further perspective, the biggest carp ever caught was 104 pounds, and it was a bighead carp in West Virginia. You can learn more about that here. The one on the Mississippi is just 12 pounds short of that record.
Bowfishing Association of Missouri
If you want to get in on the bowfishing tournaments in the state, you will want to stay in touch with the Bowfishing Association of Missouri. You can learn more about them from their Facebook page. Here, they post about their tournament dates and where they’re located. They also have drawings for some great prizes. Worth checking out especially if you’re into the sport.
This fishing and hunting club is located in Foristell, Missouri, and they support and fight for the rights of bowfishermen. We have found that every state appears to have this type of association. For example, if you live in Utah, they have a Bowfishing Association of Utah.
Hopefully, this bowfishing Missouri guide has taught you something that you could use for a better bowfishing experience in the state. We tried to use the best state information to help bowfishermen have a better time and know where to go when bowfishing. Missouri has a lot to offer bowfishermen and it has less restrictive bowfishing laws than some of the other states. You may still want to acquaint yourself with the laws.