A lot of bowfishermen like to go out at night because of how it makes it easier to see the fish. Maybe you have work obligations or children that make sticking the fish all night out of the question. In those cases, you go bowfishing during the day, and you can still come out equally as successful. Here are a couple of tips that can make your trip during the day more successful.
Tip #1: Put on Some Polarized Glasses
You can see the fish much better if you put on some polarized glasses for seeing the fish. These glasses will normally cost you anywhere from $50 to $100, and you may want to buy one with a strap so that they stay on your face. Always keep in mind, the quality differs from one brand to the next. The Costa Del Mar Men’s Fantail 580p Rectangular Sunglasses works well as the best all-around pair of polarized sunglasses.
The biggest mistake that you can make with these is to not try before you buy. You want to make sure that the polarized glasses that you have put on your face will feel comfortable over the long term, and you want them to fit properly.
You also have two different lenses: Polycarbonate and glass lenses.
Glass lenses have become the most popular option because of how they give you a crystal clear look into the water. They’re also scratch resistant and let you see into the water a little better. Meanwhile, Polycarbonate glasses cost a little less, but they don’t work as well either for seeing the fish in the water.
Tip #2: Know Where the Fish Hang Out
Let’s say that you want to bowfish carp during the day. You should have an idea for where they hang out. During the day, the carp will normally be found under the docks, or they will be near the trees that hang over the water. Normally, you will find them in the shallower parts of the water like near the lily pads, and they will be splashing in the water making them an easy target to bow fishermen.
Tip #3: Watch the Lily Pads for Irregular Movement
When you see the lily pads moving irregularly, this indicates that the carp could be running into them. This will help you spot them. Grass carp have a reputation for eating the leaves on the lily pads, and you will be close to a source of food for them. Another area where you can sometimes spot grass carp is in the weeds. Watch for irregular movement. If you spot the movement, you should act slowly because these fish are skittish. Normally, you will see the tail or the fins sticking out of the water.
Tip #4: Look for a Spawning Area
One of the easiest ways to shoot carp during the day comes from looking for one of their spawning grounds. Normally, the carp will start to spawn anywhere from March 15th to August 15th, and you will usually find these areas in shallow or weedy bay areas. The carp that spawn in the shallower areas will throw up a lot of commotion, which makes them easy to see. In some cases, several males could be spawning with a single female.
Carp prefer to do spawning as the water levels rise. Normally, you will find them in water between 2 feet to 3 feet deep. Nevertheless, you should understand how this will vary based on the state and the weather. If you can catch them while spawning, you will have an easier time shooting them. Just shoot for the splashing carp. It can be great fun especially for a beginner.
Tip #5: Look in the Shallows
During the day, your best time for bowfishing carp will be to find them sunning themselves in the shallows. However, you have to be careful not to spook them. These are smart fish, and you have to exercise caution not to disturb them before you can shoot them. In addition, carp are prey fish, and they spook more easily during the day than at any other time.
Tip #6: Use a Bright-Colored Arrow
One of the biggest advantages of using a bright-colored arrow comes from the fact that you can see where you hit in the water. Most arrows are sold in the standard white color, but when you go bowfishing, it can be advantageous to use a bright-colored green arrow, pink arrow or a yellow arrow so that you can see where your shot hit. This can also let you know how hard to pull on the arrow because in some cases, you might only nick a fish, and they can pull themselves free from the arrow or if you pull on it too hard, you can accidentally set them free. Knowing precisely where you hit them can be an advantage.
Tip #7: You Don’t Need as Much Gear During the Day
For bowfishing during the day, you don’t need to have as much gear to make it happen. To give an example, you don’t need a generator because you don’t need lights, which can add to the space on your boat. Especially for someone who has just started to bowfish, this can be a great way to get started, even though you will want to try bowfishing at night because this is where the sport shines. For bowfishing during the day, you can get as simple as possible, and that’s the beauty involved in it. You don’t even necessarily need a boat, but it can help.
Tip #8: Stealth Matters
During the day, the carp spook a little easier than at night. You can use a trolling motor to sneak up on them, but if you want to use extreme stealth, you might even use oars to get close to them. You don’t want to get too close if you can help it because they may swim off if they think you’re a threat.
Tip #9: Calculate Light Refraction
One of the biggest mistakes that people make with bowfishing comes from not considering light refraction. This means that the fish be lower in the water than what they appear to be.
To shoot a carp from afar, you have to take light refraction into consideration. For example, aim lower than what the fish appears in the water. When higher up in the water, you don’t have to aim quite as low, but if they’re deeper down in the water, you will want to aim lower. As I said in a previous article, pretend like you’re trying to miss the fish and aim low.
It takes some time to get used to this style of aiming because with regular bow hunting, you don’t have to calculate light refraction.
Tip #10: Earlier in the Day Works Best
What I have found when bowfishing during the day is that you want to go a little earlier in the day, one to two hours after sunrise. This is because you don’t have to deal with as much glare from the water, muddier water tends to be more settled, and the fish haven’t fled off into the cooler waters yet, which would be deeper and less ideal for bow fishermen.
Tip #11: Stay Aware of Your Shadow
When you go to take a shot, try to position yourself so that you shadow doesn’t get cast over the water. Carp will especially spook easily to this, and it can leave you having missed your shot. You have to stay aware of your shadow as you get ready to take the shot.
During the day time, bowfishing will be the most effective near the surface of the water and in shallower water where you can see the fish. At night, the fish get illuminated by your lights, which makes taking the shots much easier.
Tip #12: Put on Some Gloves
You want to put on some gloves because of how fish can get slimy. With carp, you don’t have to deal with their teeth as much, but if you were to go after another species like the alligator gar, you will want to have some gloves on because of how these fish have sharp teeth that can mess up your hand. In general, it’s just a good practice to wear gloves, even if you’re bowfishing for carp. These fish can start to jump around without warning.
Tip #13: Understanding the Difference between Night and Day Bowfishing
With night bowfishing, many times, you will have a few seconds to take the shot. You won’t see the fish until you’re almost on top of it. During the day, however, you will have a big opportunity to see the fish and take your shot as the opportune moment to strike arises. That’s part of what makes bowfishing so exciting for a lot of bowfishers is that you have to take the shot quickly or the fish will vanish off into the night.
Tip #14: Where to Bowfish During the Day from Shore
If you bowfish from shore, you will inevitably have a different experience than if you were to fish from the boat. You have a couple of ideal places to take a shot when bowfishing. When fishing from the shore, you will normally aim for the shallows, check under the docks, backwaters and coves. You can have a lot of success bowfishing in this way on a river or creek.
Depending on your state, you should always check your local regulations to make sure that you are following the rules. Some areas may not allow bowfishing, or they may restrict it to certain times and fish. You have to stay alert to the local regulations when you do this type of fishing.
Tip #15: Check the Shady Parts
Normally, when you go bowfishing during the day, you will want to check the shallows and the shady areas where they might be staying cool and out of the sun. Heavy vegetation and grasses can also be another area where you might find the fish hiding. Bowfishing in the day time is a completely different game from fishing at night and both have their advantages and disadvantages.
Tip #16: The All or Nothing Appearance
When it comes to the fish, it seems like they all start showing up at a specific time. Figuring out this specific time can be the trick of the trade. You may spend all day not seeing a single fish and all the sudden they start popping up everywhere. Some of the fish that are the worst culprits for this include:
- Big gar
- Grass carp
If you aren’t seeing the fish, don’t worry too much. It may just not be the right time yet. Sooner or later, they may show up in a constant stream for some wild bowfishing action.
Tip #17: Brown Tint Polarized Glass
A lot of bowfishermen, myself included, have found that the brown tint polarized glasses work the best for seeing the fish during the day. You can spot them much easier in this way so that you can take the shots. Try it out for yourself to find out. Meanwhile, the yellow tint for polarized glasses was intended more for overcast skies and seeing the fish.
Tip #18: Practice, Practice, Practice
One of the trickiest aspects of bowfishing comes from the fact that the fish don’t appear where they really are. You have to look at light refraction and consider it carefully. The only way that you will get better at bowfishing comes from practicing—a lot. After a while of shooting calculating light refraction becomes secondhand nature. You still will miss the shots from time to time, but that is part of what makes this so fun.
Tip #19: How Low Should You Aim
Everyone tells you to aim low, but they don’t tell you exactly how low you should aim in the water. To use a general rule, you might say to aim 6 inches below the target fish for every foot of depth that you have in the water. This also assumes that you will be bowfishing from a 45-degree angle. For anyone who aims directly at the fish, they’re almost guaranteed to miss.
Tip #20: Bring Along an Experienced Friend
If you have a friend experienced in bowfishing, it can go a long way in helping you to shoot more fish. At the very least, someone will be shooting fish which can make it more exciting. Having a friend along, he can also correct your mistakes in real-time to help you get much better at a faster rate. Having an experienced friend along, they can also help you to find where the fish are hiding.
Bowfishing gets more exciting with the more people that you have along. In some cases, you could go with four friends and if each of you gets 50 carp, you walk away with over 200 fish. This can and has happened. There’s no limit on the number of carp that you can shoot because they’re an invasive species.
Tip #21: Dams and Spillways
Over the summer season during the day time, one of the best places to go bowfishing is below the dams and the spillways. Also, you might check any area where a stream or creek feeds into a bigger river system as they like to hide out in these areas.
Keeping these things in mind, you will have a higher chance of getting the fish during the daylight hours. While a lot of bowfishers prefer to do bowfishing at night, the advantage of doing it during the day is that you can take in your surroundings more, and you don’t have to put up with the noise from the generator, which can be loud. Not to mention, no generator means that you won’t scare the fish off.