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Is Bowfishing Legal in 2021? Get Your Answer Here

Bowfishing is one of the most popular hobbies across the world. Some consider it as adventure sports where some differs to that ideology. But one thing certain that this thing is getting traction especially among the new age people. If the trends to be believed then bowfishing will continue to be popular for many people in the days to come as well. But is bowfishing legal? Is it even allowed to do? 

Well, in this article we will try to decode the answers. So that your doubts regarding the legality of bowfishing can be cleared once and for all. But before that first we need to understand what bowfishing actually is.

What is a Bowfishing?

Bowfishing is a method of fishing that entails archery equipment in shooting and retrieving of fish as per Phelps, J. G. 1991…Fishing is done with the help of the best bowfishing bows that is barbed and is attached with special line mounted on it. In this kind of fishing, water bodies are put into consideration. There is freshwater fish and the salty water fish.

Most of the commonly fished freshwater fish are; common carp, buffalo, alligator gar, bowfin, catfish and suckers. The salty water fish that are mostly fished are; flounder, mullet, sharks and sheepshead. In this kind of fishing method, there is no specific season for fishing but there is a best time to do the fishing. Bowfishing can be done as long as one adheres to the fishing laws of any state.

Is Bowfishing Legal?

Bowfishing is a legal activity in most states for non-gamefish species. Some of the states that allow non-gamefish fishing are Texas, Ohio, Florida and India. Other states like New Mexico and Nebraska allow bowfishing for popular game fish and are reserved for regular hook and line angling.

is bowfishing legal

One is required to have a license or permit to bowfish wherever one lives. The fishing laws vary from state to the other thus one is required to have a regular sport fishing license for fishing. For few states like the Washington, one does not need a license to bowfish for common carp. 

Before starting bowfishing, one has to investigate or check the licensing requirements in the area of fishing before starting bowfishing. If rules are not available, one can decide to make a call to the officers in charge and they will direct you on where to get started and the fishing maps. The fishing maps always help someone to fish without getting to the neighboring states boarders. 

So stop asking “is bowfishing legal?” multiple times, and gather more information regarding that.

What Water Bodies are suitable for Bowfishing?

As per Thomas, L. 1989 every state tells out what type of fish is legal to shoot with a bow in a different manner. Everyone who is bowfishing has to familiarize with bowfishing rules before starting fishing. Since seasons and locations are controlled, it may take time for oneself to familiarize with this technique of fishing.

The seasons and locations may be controlled due to the fact that, in both salt and fresh water areas, it will take time to get familiarized with the area and how fishing is done in the area. There are plenty of bowfishing opportunities regardless of the state. In many lakes, rivers and saltwater bays, rough fish or non-game fish provide plenty of areas to do fishing. Some fish are highly invasive, non –native fishhave become the most popular targets of bowfishing enthusiast.

If one loves bowfishing which is an addictive combination of both sports, he\she loves hunting and fishing. The method of fishing used is cheap since the bow used ischeap in its construction. Fishing and hunting regulations for non-game fish may be taken by hooking and line method, by use of special device and by grabbing.

The special devices include; dip nets, bow nets, gigs and spear guns. For most commercial and non-commercial special devices, licenses are required to fishing using the legal devices I have listed above. If three or fewer devices are used, non-commercial license is needed. If four or more devices are used, the commercial license is required. Most bowfishermen use the rigged boats which they climb out in shallow waters to get to know if the boats can navigate with easy.

Ways on How to Catch a Fish

In bowfishing one has to know where to aim a fish and this may take time to master since it’s a difficult skill. Water has a lot of refraction and this will lead to distortion of the object in the water, due to this reason aiming straight at the target my lead to a miss.

The depth and distance of the target also has the impact on how far the fish is to be aimed. The angle, depth and the distance will always matter in the case of actual compensation of the target. One has to master the key things like angle at which one is to strike and also the depth of the target. In this one will be in a level to get a catch without a miss.

Since most fish that are caught using bowfishing method are edible, seasons will always be a factor to be considered. As seasons change, the test of fish will also change as per fish like carp. Most of the species have a muddy flavor and mushy texture which is not palatable.

Time of the year and where the carp fish was taken from will always tell the difference by its test. The best time to get a large carp is by the month of May. Some fish may be hard to handle since they have teeth which may be dangerous and may cause harm. Care should be taken when handling gar fish.

Harvesting and waste fish

While harvesting fish make sure one has the right number of fish one can handle. This will reduce wastage. Waste of fish is prohibited by most states. If more fish is harvested (trash fish), proper smoking should be done and proper cooking should be done for a meal.

On issues regarding discarding of fish, don’t discard it in a public trash cans or shorelines for others to come and work on it. It is advisable to share the excess with the family members or even the friends. Fish can make a good fertilizer to a garden.

 Fish carcasses have most of the nutrients a plant may require. Since only every few people can do the outdoor work, it is advisable to check out for and make sure no fish is left as trash. Donating is another way of making sure that the trash fish is removed from the shorelines. Places where more care is needed, one can take the excess fish (trash fish) and show some efforts on how to leave the state clean.


Finally we have to legally enjoy what our bow fishing fisheries have to offer. If one has familiarized with the rules of the state, it is good to feel encouraged and try bow fishing. In this way one can be able to have a better hobby and a better way to put food on the table. This is our take to the question, is bowfishing legal or not, if you like reading more of such articles, kindly share this post. 

Rocky D

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