When you go bowfishing, the conditions for the water don’t always look spectacular. Sometimes you can have a hard time with spotting the fish because the water looks so muddy. In addition, in a boat, by the time you spot the fish, you have scared them off.
How to bowfish in muddy water? When you struggle with water clarity, one of your options is to find a backwater, which does have the same continuous water flows that muddy the water. In addition, look for pinch points where rough fish like to swim up at times.
Bowfishing in muddy water can be tricky, but you do have tactics that you can use to come out ahead.
Bowfish near Rocks and Shallows
Bowfisherman will take on what’s known as the “rough fish.” This means common carp, grass carp, bighead carp and alligator gar. Carp are smart fish, and they will stir up mud and create difficult shots for you. Many a bowfisherman has commented on how it seemed like after a while of bowfishing, in a pond, they had a harder time baiting the fish because the carp caught on that bait equaled death. If you try to find rocks or shallows, you keep them from being able to stir up the mud.
How to Bowfish a Muddy River
Let’s say that you see water up against a levee. You might check the grassy levee slopes. Also, if you can find where the water might be running out from, for example, under a road culvert or out of a restricted area, such as a field, these areas will normally have less muddy water for shooting. Anywhere where you might see a current away from the river will offer you some good bowfishing opportunities. It takes some time to find these areas, but they are worth it. Some people say that night fishing in muddy water is normally better. However, when the muddy river has flooded waters, you can normally catch some big fish. Other good advice is to shoot them whenever they roll near the surface of the water.
Polarized Fishing Sunglasses for Bowfishing
One of the easier ways that you will be able to spot the fish in muddy water comes from wearing a good pair of polarized fishing sunglasses. The biggest mistake that people make with polarized fishing sunglasses comes from not trying them before buying them. Buying them online can be a big mistake because you will wear these a lot, and you want to make sure that they feel comfortable. You never have the chance to figure out what feels comfortable on your face if you buy them online, and getting a good fit matters.
Many bowfisherman will tell you that one of the best ways to overcome muddy water comes from bowfishing at night. You use lights called HPS lights, and the advantage of these lights comes from how they tend to illuminate the fish at night even in muddy water. It penetrates the water better than many of the other choices. If you’d like to learn more about bowfishing lights and how to choose the right ones, check out this other article I wrote on choosing the right kind of bowfishing lights. In this case, for muddy water, I’d recommend that you choose HPS lights because they offer some of the best penetration compared to halogen and LEDs.
What to Do in Super Muddy Water?
You have different levels of muddy water and some will have better visibility than others. Truth is in really muddy water, you’re going to have a huge challenge. However, you can search out areas that will be less likely to be muddy to get better shots. Even in super muddy water, HPS lights can make a big difference to help you with getting your shots in because it shows the fish better. If you were to take one boat out with LEDs and another boat out using HPS lighting, many times the HPS lights will help the bowfishermen to shoot more fish even in more challenging waters. Nevertheless, it’s all about preference, and in some cases, the LEDs might perform better because you have quieter lighting that doesn’t scare off the fish and lasts longer. With super muddy water, you can either wait for it to clear up or try to find a place that has less muddy water.
Baiting the Fish out of Hiding
Before you attempt this, check your local and state laws to make sure it’s legal. However, you can bait the fish out of the muddy water so that they will be easier to find. I wrote about how to bait carp in this article here. After you have baited them, look for fins and loose the arrow.
Wait until Spawning
Another one of the ways that you can cut through the muddy water is to wait until the common carp are spawning. Usually, you will find them in shallow water or near the banks when they do spawning, and they will be in large groups, making them easy targets. When they’re spawning, they most likely won’t care too much about bait because they’re busy with other things.
Finally, sometimes the only thing that you can do is to wait it out. If the water is too muddy, it could be because of the rains. If that’s the case, you just have to wait a bit until the water conditions look clearer again. However, if you have a river that is characteristically muddy like the Ohio River, you may have to either learn to shoot in muddy water or seek greener pastures.