Places To Go Bowfishing In The U.S.
If you love fishing but you want to step it up a gear then bowfishing might just be the sport for you.
By combining the ancient sport of archery with fishing, bowfishing can add extra excitement and adventure to your day on the water, giving you more of an action-packed fishing trip that might feel more like a hunting trip.
So, you're probably wondering where the best places are to go bowfishing? Well, that’s why we’ve put together this guide to the best spots.
Bowfishing Hotspots - U.S. Destinations
We have made a list of the best states for bowfishing and have included the top spots in each state to give you the optimum chance of a having a successful fishing trip.
While there may be numerous places within each state that can be good for bowfishing, we have narrowed it down to areas we think you should definitely check out.
If you’re looking for your best shot at a trophy sized catch, then Lake Guntersville, fed by the Tennessee River in northeastern Alabama, could be the place to be. There are many species in the largest lake in Alabama, including a variety of carp, buffalos and gars, although only one alligator gar, per person, per day, is permitted.
In 2015 Lake Guntersville was the setting for the world record for bowfishing, when a 92 pound grass carp, originally weighing 93.3 pounds, was shot and caught during a bowfishing tournament in the lake. It has also been the location for previous bowfishing world records.
It may be known as Big Sky Country but Texas is also home to a lot of big fish, with the main attraction being large alligator gar that can weigh up to 300 pounds. The lakes and rivers in southern Texas can be a big draw for bowfishing, and particularly the Trinity River, Choke Canyon and Lake Texoma.
In Texas you can bowfish for non-game fish and fish that are not a protected species, and the alligator gar is limited to one per day, with some exceptions. Choke Canyon is one of the main hotspots for alligator gar, with 200 pound specimens shot and caught here. It can also be a good place to catch longnose and shortnose gars, buffalo, tilapia, as well as carp.
While Florida’s Gulf Coast may offer great opportunities for shooting a stingray and other saltwater fish, the St. John’s River in Central Florida can be a lucrative place for bowfishing for tilapia and catfish.
At 310 miles long, it’s the longest river in Florida and is known for its bass fishing opportunities.
Florida has laws on the types of fish you can catch with an arrow, with gamefish off limits, including sharks, which is why the St. John’s River may offer up more bowfishing opportunities, as well as more variety, such as drum and even alligators, provided you have the correct licenses and your catch meets the required minimum sizes.
The Gulf Coast of Louisiana is filled with opportunities for bowfishing, with less restrictions compared to some other states, meaning you can shoot at more species, including alligator gars, sharks, redfish, as well as sheepshead, flounder and mullet.
The marshes and bayous where the freshwater meets the saltwater could have a wider variety of species for you to catch but you will need to make sure you have the correct fishing licenses for either salt or freshwater, and that you make sure you’re in the correct zone for your license.
Bowfishing off the Southern California coast can be a fantastic place for catching big game fish, just be sure to check out where the protected marine areas are before you head out, as these can be off limits for fishing or have limits on what you can catch.
That being said, the ocean off of Southern California is home to a variety of large sharks, including Mako, which can be taken legally, as well as rays and skates, so this could be the fishing adventure you’ve been waiting for. Just make sure your rod and reel can handle the large fish you hope to shoot, but remember you’re not allowed to shoot whites, as they are a protected species.
Learn more about bowfishing and bows.