Perhaps you’ve decided to get involved in the exciting sport of bowfishing. Bowfishing seems to be unique in and of itself, and it may leave you wondering if you need a special type of license to go.
Do I need a license to bowfish? While you will need a sport fishing license to bowfish, you don’t need a special license. In addition, you don’t need to have special gear or a special reel for bowfishing. Before you begin, check local and state laws to get the specific details.
What Do You Need to Get a Sport Fishing License?
You don’t need a real lot to get a fishing license. In most states, you can buy a fishing license by phone, online, at retail establishments or local gas stations. The age for getting a fishing license depends on the state, but generally speaking, you don’t need to get a fishing license until you turn 16. For non-residents of a state, you will normally have to buy a fishing license at 15. Check your state regulations because it can vary from state to state.
At the end of 365 days, your fishing license will expire, and you will have to buy another license. This begins from the date of your purchase. You have different types of licensing that you can get as well that include:
- One-year license
- Multi-year license
- Five-day license
- One-day license
- Non-resident license
In some cases, you don’t need a sports fishing license if you are disabled or are a foreign exchange student. Young children below the age of 10 usuallly won’t need a license either. After someone has turned 74, they normally won’t need to buy a fishing license. As always, these regulations will depend on the state.
What to Be Aware Of
Before you go out and start bowfishing, you should first look at the state and local laws. In some cases, the government has enacted restrictions on bowfishing in certain parts of the state. For example, you may be restricted from bowfishing in local, federal and state parks. In some areas, they have prohibited this sport because of how they consider it the use of a deadly weapon. Some city areas may have this as a restriction, and you want to stay aware of it. You could ask your local DNR to get the most useful information on where you can go bowfishing.
What Types of Fish Can You Bowfish For?
- Grass Carp
- Bighead Carp
- Common Carp
- Alligator Gar
- Silver Carp
- Freshwater Drum
Before you ever decide to bowfish a particular species, please check your local and state regulations because it will differ in every state. With that said, in particular, you can fish for what’s known as the “Rough Fish.” This means the common carp, the alligator gar and the suckers. If you happen to live in Alaska, in some places like South Central Alaska, you can bowfish for northern pike. You can do this in these areas because of how northern pike are considered an invasive species that is ruining the local inland waters, and these fish eat up the local baby fish. In fact, it’s illegal to return northern pike to the waters, which is why you’re allowed to bowfish for them there. Before you begin, however, check with your local DNR.
Bowfishing Regulations: What to Keep in Mind
In many cases, the regulations vary from state to state, and even some localities will have different bowfishing regulations, which is why you want to acquaint yourself with the local rules. In most cases, with a lot of the invasive species, you don’t have a limit on how many fish you can take. For example, common carp are considered a non-game species by the DNR, and you can take as many as you want. Many people like bowfishing for this reason because unlike with fishing where you have limits on how many you can catch, bowfishing targets what’s known as the “rough” fish, and this means that they’re often less prized. As a result, you can often fish for as many as you’d like if they’re an invasive species.
Bowfishing does have other regulations that you need to keep in mind. For example, the arrows you shoot must have a barbed head on them, and you must attach the arrow to a line to shoot from the bow. This isn’t a normal fishing line, however. It’s a little thicker. In addition, you must shoot the arrow from the bow for it to be legal. In case you’re wondering, you can also bowfish using a crossbow.
For safety reasons, when you go bowfishing, you must be 50 feet away from docks, ramps and swimming areas that have people. You must also be away from camping and picnic areas or public-use areas.
Will a Hunting License Work?
Because bowfishing has a lot of similarities to hunting over fishing, some people wonder if they can use a hunting license instead to go bowfishing. In fact, you cannot use a hunting license to bowfish, and a fishing license is very specific to this sport.
What Season is Bowfishing?
Most states let you bowfish year round. With no other archery or hunting-related sport do you have the option to do it all year, which is one of the reasons that bowfishing has been taking off in popularity in recent years. What I like about bowfishing is that when you don’t have anything else to do, you can always fall back on it as another sport that is always available. People like it because you can do it all season, and it’s easy to get started. You just need a bow with a reel, and you can get started with bowfishing.
A lot of times, you will see bowfishermen doing bowfishing at night away from the summer heat, and this can also be advantageous if you’re fishing in muddy waters because the lighting can help to show the fish more easily.
Can Children Bowfish?
Yes, you can take your children bowfishing. As long as they are old enough to pull back the draw weight of a bow. At 15 pounds of draw weight, they will be able to penetrate the fish. In particular, if you have a child that wants to go bowfishing, compound youth bows are one of the best because of how they will make it easier to pull back the bow.
Doing a Public Service
Bowfishermen almost always go after the fish that are invasive or less desirable to the state. For example, common carp have been destructive to the local environments because they provide competition for local fish species, and once they reach a certain size, they have no known predators. That makes it easy for them to take over the natural environment while the local fish die off.
As always, before you start bowfishing, you should check with your local regulations to have a better understanding of what you can and cannot fish for. In addition, you want to know where you can go bowfishing in the state and where you can’t. Getting started with bowfishing isn’t terribly difficult because of how you don’t need a special license to get started with it. You can simply use a sports fishing license to try it out. That said, check out this cool license holder here.