Bowfishing is a combination of hunting and fishing, and it’s the fastest growing sport in the archery world right now. It’s also the hottest new event at the 2015 Game Fair going on this weekend and next at the Armstrong Ranch Kennels in Ramsey.

            The “Ultimate Carp Shoot” presented by Edge Bow Fishing has been a big hit throughout the first weekend of Game Fair said Curt Cich, owner of Edge Bow Fishing. “A lot of people have heard of bowfishing, but never tried it before—out here they get to use our equipment and see how much fun it is, not to mention how addicting a sport it is,” he said.

            Besides just for fun, there’s a competitive element to this event located along Eddy Lake within the Game Fair grounds. For a fee of $5,  bowfishermen and women who hit two targets, with three attempts, are entered into a drawing where the grand prize is $500 cash and a bowfishing trip for four.

            Second place is a $600 bowfishing platform and third is a $100 Cabela’s gift card. Products from Cajun Archery and Portram will also be given to the winners.

            You don’t have to be a seasoned bowfisher to participate and you don’t even need your own equipment. “We have bows and equipment for people and the bows are adjustable from 15 to 50 pounds of draw meaning most anybody can give it a try,” Cich said.

     

       Nine-year-old Will Cederstrand of Ramsey was at Game Fair on Friday taking his first few shots as a bowfisherman. He managed to hit one of the foam carp targets concealed anywhere from one foot to four feet underwater.

            “That was a lot of fun,” Cederstrand said after his turn was up.

            Cich said his company and guiding business Edge Bowfishing has been exhibiting at Game Fair for the past three years but he wanted something more interactive this year. “Everybody always asked how do you do it and I had my boat out here to show them, but bowfishing is like anything where you have to try it to get it—this is the closest we can come to the real thing.”

            Four years ago Cich started Edge Bowfishing www.edgebowfishing.com as a guide business for bowfishing enthusiasts in the Twin Cities. He had one boat that first year (his) and one guide (himself). Now he has a fleet of six boats and 10 guides who take clients out all over the metro.

            That first year he had 30 clients and thought he was doing pretty good. The second year there were 100, followed by 150 in the third year and more than 200 this year.

            Cich has been bowfishing himself for eight years. He started after a friend called and said he needed to try this sport. “I was already an avid hunter so I didn’t think I had the time to do something else but bowfishing combines all the elements of every kind of hunting I’ve ever done.”

            He likes the spot and stalking aspect of the sport, being on the water, being out when its quiet, having lots of activity, and being at the moment of the shot all night long. “It’s the speed of pheasant hunting, the strategy of duck hunting, and carp are about as wily as whitetail,” Cich said.

            Carp are an invasive species in Minnesota waters, and they are beginning to catch on to this bowfishing sport. “Five years ago you could go right up and shoot them, now they see the light and know that the great white shaft of death is coming soon after,” he said, referencing the high-visibility white colored arrows used while bowfishing.

            The sport is done at night meaning there are rarely any other boats on the water. Not only that, but the use of artificial lights is perfectly legal meaning that a bowfisher can see down into the entire water column. “It’s not uncommon to see 50 to 60 muskie a night along with northern, bass, walleye. It’s a visually entertaining sport because you are always seeing something.”

            Carp bowfishing is not just a for fun kind of venture, it’s also good for lake water quality and provides a potent fertilizer for organic farmers.

            “We are improving the water quality of lakes by removing these evasive species that stir up the lake bottom and reduce water clarity,” he said. “I also give the carp we shoot to an organic farmer to uses them for his vegetables.”

            Many who go bowfishing use the carp they shoot to fertilize their trees and gardens. “Eventually you run out of places to dig but a lot of hog farmers will gladly take them along with any farmer interested in free fertilizer,” Cich said.  

            Politics is part of everything and bowfishing for carp is no exception. Carp fishing is not a sport that can be enjoyed everywhere because of discharge laws that were written before bowfishing was much of a sport.

            “The funs we earn from the Ultimate Carp Shoot at Game Fair are going to be used to help us open up bowfishing opportunities in the metro area by advocating local governments to adjust their policies to be accommodating of bowfishing,” Cich said.

            He has already started an organization for getting that message out to effected areas called the Minnesota Bowfishing Association. The group has a Facebook page and can also be found at www.minnesotabowfishingassociation.com.

            The Ultimate Carp Challenge runs from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Game Fair on Sunday, August 9. It will continue throughout the second weekend of Game Fair starting August 14, 15 and 16. For directions and other information on Game Fair visit www.GameFair.com 

            “This event really gives people the sense of what it’s like to shoot.”

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