Do You Need A Fishing License To Bowfish? The Answer Is Here!

If you are really into fishing and archery, bow fishing will be the perfect pastime you can take up.

However, it would be best if you learned many things before going bow fishing. Besides equipment and gear, it’s best to learn about the regulations. 

Do you need a fishing license to bowfish? Continue reading to find out whether you require a special permit and everything before getting one.

Let’s get started!

Do You Need A Fishing License To Bowfish? 

The answer is yes! If you want to go bowfishing in your region, you generally need a permit or license, just as for other outdoor activities.

Although state regulations differ, it’s a sure thing that you must have a standard bowfishing license before getting outside and enjoying this hobby.

For instance, if you live in Minnesota, you can’t use your hunting license instead of a bowfishing one. 

All residents of this state between the ages of 16 and 89 must have an eligible license for bowfishing. 

If you are a non-resident in Minnesota, a license is mandatory if you are under 15 years old and don’t have a lawful guardian or parent. 

It’s also worth noting that the bowfishing licenses vary, depending on your status in your region and the duration you intend to go fishing in an area. 

Some permits are only valid for a day or a year, while others are valid for residents for their whole lives, or you may obtain a license for non-residents.

Before applying for a permit, you must know about many licenses in your state to choose the appropriate one.

Nevertheless, there are some exceptions. People who don’t need to have a bowfish license include:

  • Residents who are under the age of 16 or above 90.
  • Those citizens enrolled in the United States military are either stationed outside the state or on furlough.
  • Exemptions also apply to people who have completed their abroad federal active duties and have been discharged from their obligations.
  • The resident of a registered nursing home or boarding or a patient of the United States Veterans Administration institution.

Ensure you possess the documentation to demonstrate that you meet all the mentioned requirements.

Your state’s Department of Natural Resources (DNR) will issue all bowfishing licenses.

You must follow specific procedures to get a fishing permit or license based on your state’s DNR.

You must file an application form along with other prerequisites and personal papers and pay a licensing fee.

What Types Of Fish Can You Bowfish For?

Each state offers a slightly different classification of the varieties of fish for bowfishing. Always check the regulations carefully before departing.

Bowfishing regulations in both saltwater and freshwater places are relatively strict. Seasons, limitations, and sites are all subject to these restrictions.

There are undoubtedly many options for bowfishing, no matter the state. Below are a few of the most widely fished species:

Saltwater species

Most people find the task of shooting fish to be action-packed enough. But a saltwater range will be the solution for those looking for a more exhilarating experience.

Prepare many arrows to win some saltwater behemoths, such as:

  • Sharks
  • Stingrays
  • Flounder
  • Mullet
  • Sheepshead 

Freshwater species

You may live near a river or lake that holds various rough species. 

Some non-native and invasive species have become the preferred prey of bowfishing hobbyists, as shown below:

  • Common Carp
  • Aligator Gar
  • Freshwater Drum
  • Buffalo
  • Catfish
  • Bowfin
  • Paddlefish
  • Suckers
do you need a fishing license to bowfish

What To Do With Fish After Bowfishing?

After you’ve discovered and gone bowfishing in some local spots, you may gain a bucket full of fish. What to do with these creatures?

First, try to restrict how many fish you catch. In several regions, it is illegal to trash fish intentionally.

Many rough species are considered trash fish but don’t taste bad. You can make a good meal if you prepare and cook them properly. 

You should target some species with a better taste, including stingrays, flounder, or suckers. 

Here are some general guidelines for managing an excess of fish legally:

  • Don’t leave leftover fish in open garbage bins and on public beaches for people to handle.
  • Nobody likes the unpleasant smells or filth that come with decomposing fish. Always bring them home and try to use them legally.
  • Share these fish with your loved ones and friends. While not everyone can love outdoor sports, some enjoy food. If you have surplus fish, filet it and present it as a thoughtful gift.
  • If your neighborhood food banks accept donations of fish, send them some.
  • Utilize fish as garden fertilizer. Fish carcasses are rich in numerous nutrients that plants require to flourish.
do you need a fishing license to bowfish

Extra Tips For Bowfish 

If you have just taken up this hobby, it’s best to check the following practical tips for a better experience. 

Start in the rough.

You can start bowfishing rough fish in rivers, lakes, and ponds, such as smallmouth buffalo, bigmouth buffalo, common carp, or grass carp.

These species are relatively large and taste good. You don’t need to be concerned about possession limits. 

These varieties are generally visible from the water’s surface. Ensure you identify them before shooting. 

Go with your friends.

Large fish, such as carp, often require many shots to capture effectively, and they frequently migrate in packs, especially during the breeding season.

Invite a partner along to assist you in pulling in a large catch and to support you in achieving your missing shot or fish from a nearby area.

Target anywhere

Bowfishing is excellent if you are seeking flexibility in your fishing experience. 

You can select the location or the time depending on your interest. However, you must remember to check the laws of the region you plan to visit.

Have fun

Don’t push yourself too much. It’s great to enjoy this outdoor activity rather than working too hard to get a bucket full of fish. 

Don’t bowfish more than the number you need. Also, it would be best to deal with rough fish properly and never leave them on the seashore.

do you need a fishing license to bowfish


Can You Bowfish In NM?

Yes! If you are over 16 years old, you must have this license if you aren’t in the exemptions.

Is BowFishing Legal In WV?

The short answer is yes. It’s legal to enjoy this outdoor activity except in June and May.

Can You Bowfish In NH?

Bowfishing is legal in New Hampshire for invasive and non-game fish species but is prohibited with game fish.

What License Do I Need To Bowfish In Alabama?

You must have a saltwater fishing license to go bowfishing in this region.

Do You Need A Special Bow To Bowfish?

The answer is no. You can start this outdoor sport with any bow if you select suitable accessories. 

Is It Illegal To Use Bluegill As Bait In WV?

Yes. You can use bluegill as the perfect bait for catching catfish.

Read More: What Is The Best Time To Bowfish For Carp? The Answer Is Here!

The Bottom Line

It’s great to get out and catch fish with a bow. However, it would be best to learn about many things before bowfishing with your friends. 

Do you need a fishing license to bowfish? Yes! Almost all states require a permit for this outdoor activity. It’s not acceptable to use a hunting license.

Always check the regulations of the areas you want to visit for bowfishing. Hopefully, you will have an exciting experience with our tips. 

Thanks for reading!

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