Bowfishing, once it gets in your blood, sticks with you, and you find yourself going back to it again and again. For those bowfishermen living in Ohio or planning a trip to Ohio, I have put together this guide on how to bowfish in the state along with some of the most essential information. First, we will have a look at the legal aspect of bowfishing in the Buckeye state.
If you’d like to go bowfishing, you may need a bowfishing bow, but you may not know where to look. I put together this helpful list of the “Ultimate 14 Best Bowfishing Bows.“
Is Bowfishing Legal in Ohio?
You can bowfish for carp, drum, suckers, buffalo, frogs and the southern alligator snapping turtle in the state of Ohio. The state lets you use a crossbow, recurve, compound or longbow for bowfishing. You will need a fishing license and you can use any weight pull. Be aware of how bowfishing prohibits the taking of gamefish like sunfish, northern pike, walleye and bass. The only exception to this rule is in New Mexico where you can literally bowfish everything.
Ohio, on the whole, is quite relaxed with its bowfishing laws. Don’t worry too much. However, stay aware of the laws because it can vary from one body of water to the next.
Ohio Bowfishing Guides: Where to Look
Let’s say that you want to hire someone to be your guide when bowfishing in Ohio. You can often book a guided bowfishing charter for up to four people. This depends on the charter and who you will be going with. Instead of booking a charter, you could also look for someone who likes to bowfish and would be willing to take you out on a bowfishing tour to act as your guide.
Doing this can be particularly advantageous when you don’t have a boat yourself, and you don’t know if you will like the sport.
Trips with a bowfishing guide range in price, but they can be anywhere from $600 to $1,000 for four people and depending on what’s included.
Best Bowfishing Lakes in Ohio: Where to Bowfish
You have several great lakes to bowfish on in Ohio that we will cover here. Some of the best lakes where you can go bowfishing include:
- Dillon Lake
- Hoover Reservoir
- Buckeye Lake
Dillon Lake offers a decent chance at carp especially since it has its fair share of them. You can shoot them from shore if you don’t have a boat. In fact, you can shoot carp from shore from almost anywhere on the lake. The lake has some big carp in it.
Another one of the awesome lakes to go bowfishing for carp on, Hoover Reservoir has had carp going crazy along the banks. Depending on the day that you go, they will do this all day long, making for some great bowfishing.
Make sure you know the laws and regulations ahead of time because the cops and DNR in the area like to write tickets here. For example, they have a law where you need to bowfish above the first bridge in Galena. Check ahead of time to get the most updated information.
You can also find gar at the Hoover Reservoir. Many of the carp tend to hang out along the banks to the northwest of Sunbury bridge. Keep in mind, this may change, but it gives you an idea of where to find the fish when bowfishing.
The bowfishermen who go to Buckeye Lake tend to shoot a lot of carp. I’ve heard of people who have bowfished for catfish here as well, but it’s illegal to bowfish for catfish in Ohio. If you see someone who has done this, turn them in to the DNR. Buckeye is probably your best lake for carp in Central Ohio.
What are the Best Ohio Rivers to Bowfish?
You have a couple of great rivers to bowfish in Ohio that we would like to mention to give you more ideas on where you can go bowfishing in the state:
- Scioto River
- Ohio River
- Alum Creek
Full of gar and carp, Scioto River has become a favorite among Ohio bowfishermen because of how you never stray too far from the action. Along the lower Scioto, you can take more carp and buffalo. Take the Williams Road until you reach a dead end with a treatment plant. During the late spring and early summer, you will find an area full of fish.
You may want to go in the morning because once people start driving their 4x4s around, the bowfishing becomes next to impossible.
You can never go wrong bowfishing on the Ohio River since this marks out prime bowfishing territory. The river holds carp. If you’re willing to go into the Indiana side of the Ohio River, you will see some of the best action on the Ohio. Check around the dikes, docks and close to shore for the carp. You will want to make sure that you have a big enough boat to do the Ohio River, since this massive river is 981 miles long.
Alum Creek offers a healthy population of carp. I’ve heard of bowfishermen who could take up to 30 carp in a single session, and that was easy! The water on Alum Creek is shallow and crystal clear, making it ideal for bowfishing. This creek winds through Columbus, Ohio.
When is Ohio Bowfishing Season?
You can bowfish year-round in Ohio as far as I know, but you may still want to check ahead of time to make sure that this still remains true. Keep in mind, the bowfishing season will differ in each state and while over 35 states allow you to bowfish year-round, not all allow it.
Where are Some Bowfishing Tournaments in Ohio?
Bowfishermen have a couple of choices for tournaments in the state of Ohio. The tournaments in the state include:
- Ohio State Championship Shoot
- Northern Ohio Bowfishing Tournament
- Buckeye Bowfishing Tournaments
Anyone who wants to participate in bowfishing tournaments around Ohio may want to check it out.
Ohio is a great state to go bowfishing, and they have many different species that you can bowfish. In general, going after the carp tends to be more favored since they have become such a problem in many areas. It protects the environment and makes it better for everyone. You can learn more about the damage that Asian carp have caused to the local wildlife here.