Can You Bowfish With A Crossbow? Comprehensive Guide For Avid Anglers

So the question many anglers ask me is this – “Can you bowfish with a crossbow?”

Bowfishing is without a doubt an enjoyable and challenging activity for most anglers. And if you are curious if bowfishing can be done with a crossbow, the answer is a resounding yes.

However, this is not one easy thing to do. There are regulations to take note of, as well as key tools and equipment you need to have. These will all help to boost your experience with crossbow fishing.

So without further ado, let us cover these topics – and more – to get you set up on your upcoming angling trip. Let’s get started!

Can You Bowfish With A Crossbow?

Crossbowfishing is a fun way to make good use of your crossbow when not out hunting in the forest. It also allows you to remain sharp, especially right before game season begins.

Plus, if you are starting to get bored of catching the same target over and over, then a nice twist to this activity is by catching fish with a crossbow.

So, what should you keep in mind when it comes to bowfishing with a crossbow? First of all, you need to have the right equipment. You can also add some barbed bolts, which join a fishing line often crafted from dacron fiber. You need to add this to your reel, then you mount it right onto the crossbow located at the lower front and under the bolt path’s trajectory.

However, if you do not plan on attaching your reel with a dacron line, then you can simply make use of your old reel and rod. Just push your reel’s button or open up the bail, just like when you cast your lure. As a result, the line can freely flow out. Next, pull the line you need and hook up to your crossbow bolt.

Getting Started With Crossbow Fishing

Speaking of bolts, you can use the best one that’s designed specifically for crossbow fishing. These are usually heavier than the normal game bolts. You need this to penetrate the water faster, and you can be able to harvest the fish faster.

But do take note that there are certain regulations when it comes to crossbow fishing. You need to check with your state to learn more about these laws.

It is, however, common that crossbow fishing is not legal to do at night. An exception to this is when you are catching channel catfish, American shad, flathead catfish, or blue catfish.

With this in mind, you should stick to non-game types of fish when crossbow fishing at night. With some reliable light, you should be able to catch more fish since your target is most likely to be attracted to the light.

Important Information On Crossbow Fishing

As we have mentioned earlier, crossbow fishing is most certainly a fun and enjoyable activity. It is also quite rewarding to do, especially when you are able to catch plenty of fish.

But you need to know the rules involved when it comes to bowfishing. Unlike traditional methods of fishing, catch and release is not allowed. When you hit the fish, you cannot put it back into the water.

Once you are able to strike the fish, then you have to keep it no matter what. Moreover, there are states that prohibit crossbow fishing for bass and other sport fish. This is why you need to check your state’s regulations to be on top of these regulations.

Crossbow fishing is also a bit tougher for others because of its heavy weight. Modern bows are not as heavy, as compared with a crossbow used for fishing. With this in mind, the bolt easily penetrates the fish and overpowers your catch.

As a result, the line gets easily frayed while causing some damage to the bolt. Other anglers are keen on using the crossbow to catch alligators and sharks because of how tough these targets are. However, if you are catching flounder, redfish, or carp, a crossbow may be too heavy to use.

Lastly, a crossbow is not as fast when it comes to drawing it, unlike with a modern compound bow. Thus, this takes time to redraw, in addition to creating some kind of noise that may startle the fish.

Read More: Top 9 Best Smallmouth Lakes In Illinois For Your Next Fishing Trip 

Tips For Crossbow Fishing With Best Results

tips for crossbow fishing with best results

For greater success at crossbow fishing, you will need the right setup. Here are some things you need:

1. Reels And Bolts

Now, most reels include a dacron line measuring 25 yards in length and 200 lbs. This is a good reel to use when crossbow fishing. In addition to this, the bolts include a safety slide, so you can attach your line for retrieval purposes.

2. Crossbow

You will be pleased to find a wide selection of crossbows to use for bowfishing. The cost also varies greatly, which can range from $100 to more than $1,000. Some anglers even opt for a used one, so this can help them meet their budget.

The most important thing is that you are able to attach your reel to the crossbow. But in case you are unable to do so, then you can always use your standard fishing reel and rod and tie the line to your safety slide. But be sure to attach the reel with a dacron line to the crossbow when you are bowfishing.

Safety is important when crossbow fishing. So, be sure to use the right fishing reels for crossbow, which are also rather inexpensive. Hence, you should be able to still stick to your budget while at the same time getting proper tools.

Additional Information On Crossbow Fishing

A scope sight may or may not be added to your bow. It is not a requirement but it can help for some people.

You may want to get one to further improve your catch rate such as when you are huntin. But since your target fish should be only about 20 yards away from you, then aligning the arrow and not using a scope should work out just fine.

But one thing to note is that there are regulations that cover the area you are planning on doing crossbow fishing. You need to be aware of these, especially if there are strict laws involved. This way, you will have all the correct paperwork and spare yourself from trouble.

Some states ban bowfishing when it comes to sport fish. You need to be aware of these permits and licenses that may be required. Give the proper authorities a call or send an email to inquire ahead of time.

Lastly, be sure to go to the best location for crossbow fishing for greater success. You can do it in ponds, lakes, and even freshwater rivers. If you opt for saltwater fishing, then there are estuaries, bays, and beaches to choose from.

The most important thing is that your target is clear in sight. Usually a depth of 3 up to 4 feet should work, since your target may be hanging out in shallower waters. Also, with the density of the water, shallow depths make it easy for the bolt to go down quickly and hit your target.

Bottom Line

Crossbow fishing is most certainly a challenging, yet highly rewarding activity for every angler. As long as you have the proper tools, knowledge, and skill in crossbow fishing, you should be able to achieve success in your endeavors.

Stay on top of your state’s rules and regulations for crossbow fishing and have the best of time with this exciting sport!

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