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

bottom again.


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 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

and killed.

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.

Light Refraction

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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