Bowfishing for Bighead
By Alyssa Haukom,
© August 2012
The AMS Bowfishing boat slid off the trailer into the inky darkness of the
A few years back, Robin had generously invited us all to meet him in
A non-native species, Bighead carp are present in many waterways of the
Bowfishing for Bigheads requires a completely different technique than the normal bowfishing which is done with halogen deck lights. Any use of bright lights will send the 20 to 40 pound carp (on average) plummeting downward. The key to bowfishing Bigheads as Kevin Parks instructed us, is in the “sneak approach”. First; cut the engine and engage the trolling motor. Second; bring a spotlight and battery, leaving only your running lights on while you slowly maneuver toward the ripples and rings along the water’s surface, and third; lower your voice and speak softly – no whooping it up and boisterous shouts on a Bighead hunt.
To be efficient, you need one person to spot and run the trolling motor and one or two shooters. The “spotter”, as Kevin demonstrated, carefully and quickly scans the surface with the spotlight locating Bigheads in the distance. Quickly dousing the light, you then quietly approach and search for long, dark shadows along the surface. If you listen carefully, you will even hear the Bigheads feeding at the water’s surface.
Cindy Braun, owner of AMS Bowfishing, readies herself for a shot at a Bighead in the middle of the night on the
As we scan the surface, shadows take shape and Robin whispers, “Are you ready?!” signally us to come to full draw before he turns the spotlight on the suspended Bighead just 10 feet in front of us. “OK” I whisper from his left and he shines the carp as I quickly release my arrow from my AMS Fish Hawk bow. The water is quiet for a second and I’m perplexed….then as I begin reeling in my line through my AMS Retriever Pro reel I feel a distinct tug followed be a strong surge and realize I have in fact struck my first Bighead…and he’s making a run for it in a big way! Twenty-some pounds of fish is “gettin’ out of Dodge” and I’m forced to lay down my bow and hand-over-hand pull in my Bighead, while Jeff Braun shoots and reels in his second Bighead of the night on the other side of the boat. I switch spots with Cindy, taking over on video duty, and she quickly connects on her first Bighead of the night.
Bigheads are very “soft-fleshed” fish and we quickly learn that it’s imperative to make a hit in the head or gill-plate to insure we don’t lose one as we pull them in. Reeling them in steady and evenly is key, avoiding any “horsing” of the line or arrow which could result in the fish point pulling out.
Cindy Braun (below)and Alyssa Haukom (top) with their
Bigheads are really slimy buggers; wear gloves, use a gaff hook to bring them aboard, and exercise caution when removing your arrow.
Having a blast, we all continue shooting until dawn, then dog-tired we head in for some much needed rest. Kevin Parks has certainly introduced us to another addicting form of bowfishing, and we’re all sure we’ll be back for more!
To watch a video of our bowfishing night, go to this link:
Its a great video!
For more information about bowfishing and gear, visit: www.amsbowfishing.com
Gear used for Bigheads:
AMS Fish Hawk bow, set to 40 lb. ( Also available: the “AMS Fire Eagle” 50# bow, or for juniors the AMS Junior Hawk or Mini Hawk bow with Mothwing Camo)
AMS Retriever Pro reel
200# braided Dacron line
Muzzy Quick Release points
AMS Wave rest
AMS Bowfishing Gaff hooks
**Special gear note: Since I went bowfishing for Bighead, AMS has introduced their “AMS Special Ops Night Vision Bow Light System” which would be a huge advantage for using when bowfishing for wary Bigheads.
Visit the AMS website for more information.