Photo © Nicole Swafford

In Southern Idaho we like our fishing and we like our hunting. Combine the two and you come out with a sportsman’s summertime paradise. Though lazy days lounging on a riverbank wielding a traditional rod and reel will never lose their place as one of our greatest pastimes, bowfishing presents the opportunity to switch things up a bit, get active and add a new hobby to the list.

Photo © Nicole Swafford

Shawn Vantassel

Though the sport eliminates a few age old fishing dilemmas it replaces them with a new set of challenges. The traditionally required fine art of locating dark pockets where fish will hopefully bite is entirely unnecessary. Don’t breathe a sigh of relief yet though. When bowfishing, the slippery little buggers have to be spotted from and close to the surface. And instead of agonizing over the perfect bait, bowfishermen get to spend their time calculating precise angles at which to let their arrows fly. The deeper the fish swims the further under it a shot must be made.

Shouts or, at times, frustrated grunts of “Dang!” and “Just over his back!” commonly echo from the Snake River’s towering rock walls during bowfishing season. If you hear them feel free to chuckle a bit knowing some guy’s buddies are doing the same while a smug fish darts to deeper waters.

Photo © Nicole SwaffordWhen first starting out, bowfishing is a game of trial and error. Depth and true distance calibrations add new dimensions to even the most seasoned shooter’s routine and is one of many adjustments required by those just introduced to archery. The good news, however, is that missed shots bowfishing are chalked up to a learning experience much less severe than those learned in traditional archery. Specialized reel systems allow arrows that elude their intended mark to be easily retrieved… much less damaging to the bank account than shattering or losing an arrow from traditional archery set-ups.

Photo © Nicole Swafford

Matt Colvin and Shawn Vantassel reel in another carp.

Each missed target is a lesson though and eventually fishing archery-style becomes an addicting and adrenaline pumping excuse to spend more time in the great outdoors Idaho has to offer.

If you’ve got a competitive streak in you the Idaho State Bowhunters will be hosting a Carp Derby on June 9. To get in on the action call Caleb Drake at 735-9878.

If you prefer a slightly more laid back atmosphere, load up a cooler, some friends and family, find a nice little spot along the river and let the good times roll. Carp: Beware!

About the author

Nicole Swafford - Nicole's deep affection for Southern Idaho's outdoors and rural heritage has long been an integral part of her life. Whether guiding horseback in the majestic Stanley basin, avidly pursuing big game archery-style, attempting a successful 8 seconds atop raging bulls or leaping from perfectly good airplanes, she revels in the many adventures Idaho offers. After obtaining a Masters of Public Administration, serving as the Managing Editor of her college's newspaper and writing correspondence for daily newspapers, Nicole has settled back into her beloved world of magazine journalism.

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