Published by archerchick on 05 Sep 2010
Archery World – May 1968
Bowhunting with the Dutchman
By H.R. “Dutch” Wambold
During the first days of May as the waters of the
streams warm under the rays of the spring sunshine,
the spawning run of the carp makes its appearance
in the backwaters.
This is the time of the year when many archers
tape their.bowfishing reels on their bow, round up a
few solid glass fishing shafts and points and hit the
waters for some fast shooting fun.
Bowfishing for carp finds many variations by which
to enjoy the sport. Shooting can be done from a
canoe as it is guided into productive waters, or from
any boat for that matter. The method that apPeals
to most bowhunters is the sream bank stalking, or
getting right into the water to work onto the carp.
The large doe carp bursting with eggs keep work-
ing the muddy bottoms of the backwaters making
their nests. The smaller buck carp keep bunting the
doe to force the eggs out of her. In hunting waters
where this takes place, the large doe will rise to the
surface of the water, roll, showing her large dorsal
fin, give a flip of her broad tail and head for the
By the time you spot the doe rolling, or hear the
splash of her tail, the carp has usually disappeared
beneath the surface. If you can get into a shooting
position in jig time, all you have to aim for is a slight
swirl in the surface to indicate where the carp had
been. Using some “Mississippi Dippage” you hold
for where you think the carp might be and let go.
The shooting is fast, and the misses are numerous
while the action is tremendous. This type of blind
shooting averages about one hit out of three shots.
If you get into the middle of things and spot a
large doe being bunted around by several smaller
buck carp, you can usually work within range for a
shot while the large doe is still rolling to elude the
males. Nlany times you may wind up with two small-
er buck carp being skel.ered lvhen you miss the old
Early morning, just before sunrise, seems to be the
ideal time for top action when the spawn is at its
height. The waters are calm, a mist hangs or.er the
surface, and the splash of working carp are the only
sounds. Stalking along the stream banks during this
early morning bowfishing finds many of the carp
hugging the shorelines, and working along the under-
cuts in the banks. If you move slowly, and do not
teveal your profile you can shoot quite a few sleepers.
If you get too close to the edge of the water the carp
will spot you and spook.
Another good opportunity for some fast shooting
can be had if a shallow section of riffles or gravel
bar happens to be in the course towards the back-
waters where the carp are headed for. By working
your way into an advantageous position and playing
the waiting game you may find yourself in for some
fast and furious shooting if carp are working their
way past at the time. When this is the case you can
see your target in the shallows as the carp splash
their way across into deeper waters beyond.
When May ends and the carp start slowing down,
one can find plenty of action in salt water bow-
fishing. June finds the stingrays coming into the
coves and bays for the long summer months that lay
The feeding grounds of the rays are where the
clam and oyster beds are located. The rays feed
mainly on mollusks. The early days of June find
the larger rays working into the coves as the mating
season is at its peak. Large numbers are seen during
the first couple weeks after which the numbers seem
to taper off until late August.
This type of bowfishing requires a boat and out-
board. Although .any boat can be used, the ideal
model should have a small quarter-deck so that the
bowfisherman can stand high and up next to the
bow as the coves are trolled, slowly looking for the
sign of a ray. This position also gives the shooter
the advantage of left and right as well as dead ahead
shots on the scooting rays.
Cruising at trolling speed, a sharp lookout is kept
for the darker holes or nests of the rays on the
bottom. Many times a ray may be lying in these
nests and either spook as the boat approaches, or
play possum as the boat passes overhead. An
experienced eye can many times spot the end of the long
tail protruding out of the nest and get a guzzy shot.
At other times when the ray spooks before the boat
reaches his nest, the powerful wings will leave a mud
trail of churned sand along the bottom. The boat is
quickly turned to follow this trail with motor gunned
wide open. When the ray is spotted the shooter on
the bow signals the operator into position for a shot
at the fast moving ray from a moving boat. This
type of shooting takes a few misses to get the hang
of proper lead and compensation for light refraction.
Only a short length of line is placed on the bow
reel, about 30 feet, and the end opposite the arrow is
tied to a small float which is taped to the upper limb
of the bow on the belly side. When the ray is hit,
you hold onto the bow with both hands until the
line has all played off the reel. The float is torn
from the bow as the ray flees. Now you follow with
the boat until the ray stops to sulk on the bottom.
The float is now picked from the surface and
quickly attached to the end of a line of a game fish
rod and reel rig.
Now the bowfisherman becomes the
worker as you start pumping and trying to horse
the big ray in alongside the boat. When the ray on
the end of your fishing arow is a 100 pounder with
a four to five foot span on those powerful wings, you
have your work cut out for you!
Fishing waters should be from three to five feet
in depth and as calm as weather will permit to see
to the bottom. \Vatching the incoming and outgoing
tides will clue you as to when the right time will
permit ideal conditions. Polaroid sun glasses are a
must and help greatly in reducing the light refraction
which will mislead placing the shot in the right place.
Most salt waters find some sharks around. The
bigger species are usually found miles offshore in
deeper waters that average from 40 to 90 feet. This
of course does not apply to the tropical waters of the
Florida Keys or similar areas.
When trying for sharks in the northeastern waters,
late surnmer seems to be the most ideal time. Although
small boats can be used and will get results in many cases,
the big sharks are out in deep waters
and require a boat that can ride the open sea.
Chumming must be done to attract the sharks.
When a shark bowfishing trip is planned, a regular
fishing boat seems to be the best bet. Several years
ago I did some shark bowfishing with Captain Munsen
who specializes in this type of sortee. He calls
himself the “Monster Fisherman” and brings in many
good sized sharks.
Operating from Montauk Point on Long Island,
Munsen works his broad-beamed power boat 40 miles
offshore to where the continental shelf lies. Here
the waters drop off to 90 feet or better. This is shark alley.
A chum slick is now spread for several miles.
As the boat drifts along over the shark waters, the
oily slick of the chum winds into the distance behind.
When the chum atracts the sharks up from below,
and the fins are spotted, a teaser bait is thrown out
on a hand line to lure the shark in close to the
The bowfisherman has rigged himself with about
20 feet of line, one end of Which is attached to the
end of his fishing arrow, and the other is tied to an
innertube on the deck alongside his feet. The line is
carefully coiled so that it will play out freely when
the arrow is put into the shark.
The tube follows overboard, and the shark takes off.
Later, when the shark has played itself out fighting the
inflated innertube, which is painted a bright
yellow, you check the waters with binoculars to spot
the float. The shark is now worked in to the boat
Our day’s shark bowfishing found me shooting a
nine-foot blue shark and missing a leviathan that
must have gone at least l2 foot or better!
Care must be taken to attach the line only to the
nock end of the glass shaft. This will keep the line
clear of rubbing on the shark’s hide which is like
sandpaper and will cut the line. About a six foot
length of flexible and light wire cable leader is good
insurance against the shark cutting the line while it
fights the innertube float.
The nemesis all bowfishing faces is light ray refraction
on the surface of the water. The position
of the sun overhead in comparison to the location
of the bowfisherman, and the target’s direction of
movement presents some optical illusions.
For example: With the sun shining down from
behind the bowfisherman and the fish swimming
away, requires that you shoot behind the fish to make
a hit. Should that same fish be swimming in towards
you, you shoot ahead of the fish to make your hit!
Should the fish be swimming from left to right
in front of the bowfisherman’s position you again
shoot below to make a hit. If the fish is swimming
from right to left you again aim below to hit. This
of course is taking for granted that the sun is still
behind the bowfisherman.
Should the sun be in front of the bowfisherman,
and shining into his face, cross-swimming fish from
either side will appear to be closer to you and will
require shooting over them to make a hit.
Polaroid glasses eliminate most of this refraction
problem as well as enabling the wearer to see into
the depths to spot the fish. Surface glare is eliminated
by the polaroid lens.
Whatever your bow shooting activities might be
during the summer months, don’t pass up the chance
for some bowfishing action in your locality. The
change of pace is a welcome one, and the recreational
pastime is a satisfying experience.
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