What Fish Can You Shoot With A Bow? 9 Most Sought-After Targets

Bowfishing is a technique for hunting fish that involves shooting the prey with specialized archery gear and recovering it. This activity has become increasingly popular these days because of the high level of excitement it brings out. 

Yet, not all species are suitable for bowfishing. What fish can you shoot a bow? Only when you answer this question can you prepare the right gear for your trip. 

This article will reveal the best fish for bowfishing. You can also learn some tips to catch them. Let’s scroll down until the final line to discover! 

What Fish Can You Shoot With A Bow?

Bowfishing targets come in various shapes, colors, behaviors, and habitats. Some of them can be very hard to fight with. Here are nine of the most sought-after species for bowfishing.

1. Common Carp

There are many carp species, but common carp is the most common in bowfishing and the easiest to recognize. The fish have barbels on their mouth and long dorsal fins extending toward the tail.

These fish are strong. They can live in nearly any freshwater region in North America thanks to their adaptability.

Common carp may like to swim in muddy water, which might make it challenging to pull off a shot. Acting quickly on your feet is essential since they may also be exceptionally watchful.

The best technique for bank fishing is to stroll slowly down the bank, search out some of the target’s favorite hiding places, and be prepared to shoot at any time.

what fish can you shoot with a bow

2. Grass Carp

Grass carp may also be easily distinguishable from common carp by their unique jaw shape, lack of barbels, and lack of a dorsal fin.

Grass carp are native to eastern Asia. They moved to North America to aid with the control of algae development in residential and commercial ponds.

Grass carp is an ideal target for bowfishing. These fish fight hard and may grow to be large, which is a wonderful extra motivation to hunt them.

The primary food sources for adult grass carp are higher plants and submerged terrestrial flora. As a result, you should use a boat with a quiet trolling motor to fish around the borders of weed beds and shoreline plants.

what fish can you shoot with a bow

3. Longnose Gar

Longnose gars are predators that prey on small fish species. Hence, anglers don’t often hunt for these fish. 

However, they will give you a fantastic bowfishing trip. You can also make many delicious dishes from those fish. 

Longnose gar may grow up to six feet and are aggressive. While bowfishing, please pay attention to their razor-sharp teeth. 

Gar can breathe water and air, enabling them to survive in backwater channels. But they prefer slower-moving, calmer waterways.

We advise employing an all-steel tip with a retractable barb when going for these species to make fish removal simpler.

what fish can you shoot with a bow

4. Snakehead

Northern snakeheads come from Asia. They may grow up to 33 inches long. The dark, erratic color patches that run down these fish’s sides make them most easily identifiable.

Bowfishing these fish is pretty straightforward. However, you must know the water depth you will shoot in. The best way is to aim for waters that are no deeper than three to four feet. 

Bowfishing experts suggest using a draw weight of about 35 pounds for shooting snakeheads. This weight raises the chance that your arrow will pierce the fish without landing on the ground.

what fish can you shoot with a bow

5. Catfish

Catfish are one of the only species that we can consider game fish. Hence, they are the most prevalent fish for bowfishing this way. 

The size of catfish varies, and some fish in North America can grow extremely big. They are undoubtedly trophy fish to catch in the boat because of this.

Catfish have negative buoyancy and feed at the bottom. Therefore, if you’re after these fish, set up the proper rig for the body of water where you’ll shoot. 

If you are looking for a more exciting experience, try night bowfishing. You can catch bigger fish, then. Remember to equip your boat with enough lights.

what fish can you shoot with a bow

6. Stingray

Cownose rays are famous among bowfishermen for the terrific and amazing experiences they give. Their wonderful taste has also earned a lot of recognition. 

These rays have an important influence on oyster beds. As a result, they are not the target of commercial fishing. So bowfishing can be a good way to control their population. 

You’ll need a setup for bowfishing in deep waters when hunting for rays. Additionally, ensure that the tips on your arrows are robust.

7. Freshwater Drum

Freshwater drum fish mainly live in East Texas, Oklahoma, and Kansas. You also find them in Hudson Bay. These fish like clear waters with gravel bottoms while being resistant to turbid conditions. 

These fish are nocturnal. It means that you should plan for night fishing. A boat with powerful lights and a generator will help you succeed in bowfishing freshwater drums. 

While fishing, aim for deeper waters on shell banks. It would be best to prepare deep-driving gear for the best result.

8. Bowfin

Bowfin fish are native to the eastern United States and southeastern Canada. Like gar, these fish can breathe air via their swim bladders. Hence, you may sometimes see them breaking the water surface to gulp air. 

These fish have different names, such as dogfish or grinnell. They may snap your fingers with their sharp teeth, so be careful when releasing them. 

Bowfins are ideal targets for bow fishermen because they like to swim around shallow waters. You have the most productive trip when cruising them from a boat or around the shorelines.

what fish can you shoot with a bow

9. Paddlefish 

Paddlefish look like sharks. Although they have similar skeletons and tails, the two species have no relation.

These fish have a long snout that works as an antenna to detect their prey. This feature makes them powerful and dangerous predators. 

You can find paddlefish in free-flowing rivers with rocky, sandy bottoms. You need a strong head to hold the fish fast and a heavy-duty line to fight with them.

what fish can you shoot with a bow

Can You Bowfish For All Kinds Of Fish? 

Bowfishing is only legal for non-game fish. So if the fish you intend to catch belong to any list of game fish and endangered species, you must not hunt for them. 

Also, please note that the regulations differ from state to state. Thus, before heading for the fishing spot, check your local rules.

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


There are several fish that can bring you the best fishing experience. They live in certain areas, so make sure you look it up on the internet to identify the right place for bowfishing. 

Remember to check for the bowfishing rules of your area, too. Different states may have different regulations about this sport. 

If you need more tips for your adventure, please comment, inbox, and send us an email. We will reply to you soon. 

Thank you for reading!

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