motionless yet again as Michele Eichler (Muzzy Products) and the aptly-named Harold
Speed made snap shots on fish I hadn?t seen.
Michele Eichler of Muzzy Products
been deer hunting, I would have found it frustrating. But we were fish hunting,
and somehow it was so ridiculously funny. I didn?t feel that same pressure to
?get my deer,? and that was the first thing I liked about bow fishing.
No pressure, just pure fun. Shot,
splash, fish, over and over again, as they spotted the fish and zipped arrows
through them. Meanwhile I stood on the deck at the front of Harold?s airboat, posed
at the ready with my bow and arrow set up, about as useful as some emblem
mounted on the hood of a car.
By the second evening, I was doing
a little better, well, there was nowhere to go but up, because just trying a
shot was an improvement. When big solitary drops announced the slowest rain I?d
even seen, the fish started zipping and jumping.
Harold?s big airboat was outfitted
with spotlights, mounted like stage lights to shine out into the water. With
the fish moving, my eyes started to pick out the parts that without the breakup
of the waving weeds would connect to form the horizontal body of a fish.
Finally, I got one. And that was
the second thing I liked about bow fishing.
It was so much fun to zip an arrow
through a fish and reel it into the boat. Okay, so my fish was approximately
the size of the big round pencils we all used in
kindergarden. I proudly held up the fish for Harold and
Michele, explaining how the little ones are so much harder to hit.
Then Michele shot an alligator gar
that made my fish look like bait. Her fish slipped under a swamp mat of
vegetation that rolled like a giant shaken rug in the forward wake from the
stopped air boat. Harold got another arrow into it, and Max Koch, the son of
lodge owner Terry Koch, hacked away at the vegetation as the three of us hauled
the heavy, prehistoric-looking fish out and into the boat.
We shared a great weekend in Louisiana, shooting
alligator gar, redfish, spotted gar and buffalo carp. We stayed with Terry
Koch, manager of Bayou Carrion Crow Refuge, near Jeanerette (985-855-9555).
Sharing a room, Michele and I had
laughing jags that approached hysteria, since we did most of the bow fishing at
night and were sleep deprived. Early one morning, as one of the airboats
returned and rocked the lodge with its powerful engine, Michele called out from
?Hey,? she drawled, sure of the
power of her punch line. ?Did you sneak over here and put a quarter in my bed??
But it wasn?t sleep-deprivation
that made bow fishing so much fun, it is so much fun. Miss one? No problem,
just reel in your arrow and try again. Pick nameless muck and tangles of weeds
from your arrow, and endure the teasing of your friends. They will surely miss
sometime too, and you can turn the tables.
Harold is a classic example of how
easy the bow fishing addiction takes hold. Convinced by friends, he gave bow
fishing a try, and then went for 29 straight nights.
During the weekend, I learned how
easy and inexpensive it is to get into bow fishing. I already had a Mathews
Genesis bow, which I?d brought along. Michele shot the Mathews Sportsman model,
which the company created with bow fishing in mind. Another great compound for
bowfishing is the new FishHawk from AMS.
Michele mounted a reel on the bow, swapped my
flipper arm for a roller-style rest, attached the special arrow and I was good
The total cost of my bow was under
$200, but you could get into bow fishing for less if you have a light-poundage
recurve bow gathering dust and in need of a second life.
I arrived back in Pennsylvania with just enough time before
archery season to blab about my new vice. My hunting buddies are interested, to
put it mildly. Bow fishing is something they can do with their families, day or
night, with plenty of places to go.
It?s a long summer, with nothing to
hunt. 3-D shoots are fun, but those targets just stand around. Fish, twiddling
their fins in the weeds, are infinitely more interesting.