Took the underwater lights out for a paddle in some crystal clear water at Coleto Creek Reservoir in Victoria, TX. Cole had never shot a selfbow, but within hours of picking one up he took a few fish with it. They say to take a kid bowfishing, but how about an adult that acts like a kid?
You can read my four-part series showing how I plan for a kayak bowfishing trip below:
- Part one: preliminary research and state-level regulations
- Part two: how to find launch sites
- Part three: researching local regulations
- Part four: finding weather and river data
“Holy crap,” you think, “I have to do all this garbage just to go kayak bowfishing?!”
I don’t always do all of this research. I do it to pass the time between bowfishing trips, when my mind is on the water and I can’t stop thinking about my next adventure.
The only things you need to know before kayak bowfishing can be simplified by asking yourself a few questions:
- What will I do with my fish? Please stay home if your answer is “Leave them at the boat ramp.” Not only is this illegal, it’s disrespectful and gives those who would prefer bowfishing to be illegal ammo against us. Respect your prey and have a plan to somehow use it.
- Is it legal? Find the regs and give them a once-over, then a second-over, then maybe a third. They’re there for a reason.
- Is it safe? Use common sense. Careening through freezing snow-melt rapids on a stand-up paddleboard in a thunderstorm while holding a barbed arrow isn’t worth stickin’ a carp (I’m exaggerating, but you get the idea).
Once you have an answer to these three questions, you’re ready. If you simply want to have fun daydreaming about your next trip, follow the links above for some ideas.
Part one of this series began with a discussion about researching forums and blogs and state-level bowfishing regulations. Part two continued to discuss finding launch sites. Part three covered local regulations. Check them out if you missed them.
Weather and River Data
You only have to paddle into rough surf, a strong headwind, or a heavy current once to learn a hard lesson about why weather matters when kayaking. If you bowfish from a kayak or canoe, these factors affect you more than your powerboating brethren.
Everyone knows how to check the weather online, so that part is easy. Driving to City X to go bowfishing on the weekend? Look up the forecast for City X on the weekend. I personally use the National Weather Service because it lacks the sensationalist clickbait garbage that plagues most weather sites (I’m looking at you, weather.com!). Is a thunderstorm likely on the day I plan to bowfish? Then I’ll probably try to avoid that area.
Every paddler should also check wind speed and direction, and decide what they’re comfortable paddling in. Continue reading
Summary: The Apache Hills launch is a large, clean ramp at the back of a neighborhood along the shores of a flood-ravaged Lake Somerville. It’s a popular spot for the friendly locals. The cove makes for a nasty paddle when the wind kicks up, but you can access some creeks and shoreline at the mouth of the cove for a sheltered paddle. Wildlife was surprisingly quiet when I went in mid-spring, but the scenery was beautiful when the sun saw fit to shine through moody clouds.
I’ve often overlooked Lake Somerville as a paddling destination due to what appears to be a lack of cover if it’s viewed from Google Maps. There is a lot of open water, but not much cover. Mother Nature made me the fool when I put this hypothesis to the test on April Fools’ Day in 2017.
Summary: If you’re looking for a short paddle through sheltered waters with plenty of wildlife, I highly recommend launching at Hugo Point. If the weather permits, you can also venture into some of the surrounding, bigger waters for more marsh to discover. The safety and quality of the launch site at Hugo Point Park is top-notch, and you can enjoy a pleasant day on the water without worrying about coming back to your windows being broken.