Today I hand over the reins of my blog to Edina Senior/Intern Extraordinare, Seth Bartodziej….
At the end of May, Edina seniors have the opportunity to do a two week project or internship on a topic of interest. I wanted to do an internship with a company in the outdoor industry. I met Mitch Petrie, owner of Muddy Boot Outdoors, through a friend of my father. I enjoy watching fishing and hunting shows on TV and wanted to have a behind the scenes look at the outdoor-recreation industry. Two months after laying out my plan I started my May-Term Project as intern for Muddy Boot Outdoors.
One of my projects was to write a blog post on an outdoor experience. Mitch suggested I try out bowfishing and relate the experience in the blog. I know the sport is growing in popularity and have seen videos but have never tried it before. I was up for the adventure.
Carp are an invasive species that reproduce rapidly and if not taken care of will take over a body of water. They cause damage to our native fish species including our state fish, the walleye. Carp eat walleye eggs and cause a huge decrease in population in native game fish. When they forage they disturb sediment at the bottom of the lake that contains pollutants like phosphorous and nitrogen. Once disturbed these pollutants fertilize algae and weeds that negatively affect water quality. We also targeted bowfin (dogfish), though not invasive, they're classifed as a rough fish and can reek havic of fish beds as well. As a bonus, the sport is fun, enjoyed by people of all ages, and easily accessible in Minnesota’s many lakes and streams. How often is it you can have fun while helping the ecosystem of our local lakes, streams, and pond? Some may ask why are you killing them for no reason…it’s clear to me there’s a strong conservation argument to remove carp for lakes and enlisting sportsmen who volunteer for the task makes sense.
Our adventure started at Lake Independence MN, which coincidently is infested with carp and struggles with severe algae blooms each open-water season. When we arrived the conditions were not in our favor. Mitch got a shot off at a monster carp, probably 25 lbs; unfortunately he missed him and by the time I had a shot the carp was long gone. We perched on top of a bridge and scoped out the water for a while. After several unproductive minutes we decided to try a calmer and shallower spot. On our way it started to rain heavier but it didn’t matter as our spirits were high in anticipation of success.
Mitch led the charge down a rain-slicked embankment and through the woods to a creek he had told me about. As we walked Mitch told me the plan and what to expect. I took the lead along the creek in hopes of seeing a trophy swimming in the water. We got about 30 feet down the trail when Mitch spotted the first one. We stopped and tried to get a clear shot at him but never did. The fish spooked and swam upstream and we quickly made chase. We came up to a clearing and Mitch had a plan, there was a bridge about 50 yards up and I was to sneak ahead and post on the bridge. Mitch would walk on the bank and throw rocks and branches to push them towards me. The plan was perfect but unfortunately no carp swam past. Apparently the fish were able to sneak by in a deep channel in the creek.
We decided we should try one last spot a few hundred yards down the creek. As we approached the spot I had the bow in hand and crept down hoping spook any fish that might be near. I spotted a huge carp lying in a grass bed no more than 3 feet away from me. I drew back, but the fish saw me draw and swam away. At this point I was wondering how we were ever going to get one.
We continued to creep downstream where 50 yards later we found the mother lode of carp. There were so many, maybe 50, that I thought if I shot into them I couldn’t miss. Sure enough when I draw back the bow and shot, I missed! Needless to say I was disappointed. We saw a fish off to our left and Mitch took a shot and scored a huge dog fish; it weighed around 10 pounds. We pulled it up on to the shore and snapped this quick picture:
Mitch Petrie with a 10 pound bowfin (dog fish)
I was so excited watching it flop in the grass and when I remembered Mitch was still behind me shooting… As I turned around he had our first carp of the day hooked up. A few seconds later we had two on the shore! Seconds later, I see a big bull headed straight at me and draw back and release…it’s a hit! I couldn’t believe that I finally had one on but didn’t know what to do next. Mitch helped me pull the big boy in and congratulated me on my first carp.
Seth holds up his first carp taken with bow and arrow.
We wasted no time getting back to the shooting spree. At this point we realized the carp were stuck between a dam of trees and a big drain pipe feeding into the creek. As we moved upstream I saw a dogfish. I pulled back and wham, fish on! It was my first dogfish with the bow only seconds after my first carp. But the day wasn’t over… Mitch headed down stream to the dam and I started up top and walked in the water down towards him, hoping to spook a few him. It worked; he shot two before my drive was complete. I waded across the water to a little grass patch that had a back water cove where they were really loaded up. Sure enough I put a shot on a nice one, right in the back and brought on shore. After another half hour, we wrapped up our experience with a total of eight fish; four carp, four dogfish.
Author Seth Bartodziej and his mess of carp & bowfin (dogfish)
An experience like this has me hooked on bowfishing; I can’t wait for my next chance to go again!
For more information on bowfishing, check out the Minnesota DNR website.