Take the time to introduce fishing and hunting to people who have yet to experience the great outdoors. I try to take out numerous potential new bowfishermen/women each year to see what the sport of bowfishing is all about. As of yet I have not once had a person who did not thoroughly enjoy the opportunity and some have gone on to bowfish frequently on their own. Land of Lakes Bowfishing Association member Tim Lais of Alexandria, MN takes out on the average 40 new people each year with ages ranging from 12 to 75 years old. Tim has the same experiences as do I, people totally understand why we love being on the water!
We hear quite often the need to get the youth involved in fishing and hunting, please make no mistake this is a must for the future existence of the outdoor sports, but perhaps we miss the idea of getting adults out who have not picked up a bow, rod, or a gun. I believe this is an untapped resource of folks who, on some level, would like to get involved but they just don’t know how to at this stage of their lives. At the very minimum you will expose them to why you have such a passion for your sport. It is a chance to show them that fishing and hunting is not always about the harvest; just being on the lake, in the field or in the woods can sometimes be the prize!
Every year we continue to hear license sales are on the decline. With the demographics of our state changing it is even more important to reach out and teach as many people as possible. Whether it is a neighbor, your legislator (perhaps the most import), or a friend’s child the work you put into your sport today could last a lifetime for someone else!
As of July 1st the new law regarding bowfishing in Minnesota is well under way! We now are able to do so day or night statewide on all legal bodies of waters from May 1st until the last Sunday in February. Along with the new law is a lower decibel rating for generators (65 db @ 50 feet) and setbacks for occupied structures at 150 feet and campsites at 300 feet while night bowfishing.
For those of you who have not experienced bowfishing under the lights you are missing out on an evening of fun. Fish like the common carp come into the shallows at night to feed making it easier to locate fish to harvest. After the sun goes down the fish are more relaxed and they are not nearly as spooky like they are during the daylight hours. This provides bowfishermen/women better shooting opportunities with most of your shots within 5 yards. Another advantage to night shooting is reducing the effects of the weather elements. No longer will you have to fight cloudy days and even windy nights are not as bad to deal with as during the day. You are surely to increase your harvest when compared to day shooting.
With anything new comes concern. You may experience lake residents questioning what you are doing. Please be courteous and take a moment to let them know what the lights are all about if they approach you. Also understand if a conservation officer checks you to assure laws are being followed or they are following up on a complaint, they are simply doing their job! One way you can help our CO’s is to leave them a message about which lake you will be fishing and your contact information. This way if they receive a call on the lake you’re fishing they know you are out bowfishing. As time goes on more folks will become informed and we will certainly see a reduction of calls for service.
I hope many of you take advantage of this new chapter for Minnesota bowfishing. Choose undeveloped shorelines, respect property owners, and have a game plan for fish disposal before heading out on the water. But most importantly get out there and enjoy what we all love about Minnesota……..The outdoors!