Fishing license sales and fishing participation are not growing and declines in ifishing are a threat to the future of freshwater fishing and fish conservation. Activities such as fish stocking are important, however, stocking alone does not necessarily lead to increases in participation. Angler motivations have been well studied and they revolve around catching something (anything), catching big fish, catching many fish, and keeping fish. These motivations have so shaped agencies, that they have shown little imagination for facilitating other fish-related activities, such as snorkeling, fish watching, and native fish keeping.
|Bowfishing at dusk. Photo from Indian Head Ranch.|
In 100 Weird Ways to Catch Fish, Waldman (2005) described bowfishing as “a blood sport, a shoot-and-release is not an option, at least not legally or morally.” Bowfishing is practiced in many regions of the world to harvest fish for food. In North America, it is legal in many states and common carp is a frequent target. Many other large fish are targeted by bowfishers and the sport is growing. In 2005 Bowfishing Association of America (BAA) had only 500 members (Waldman 2005), but today BAA has around 4,000 members (Jason Emmelm, What is Bowfishing). Bowfishing may never reach the popularity of trout fishing or black bass fishing. However, numerous guides may be found to help the novice to enjoy this new sport.
|Winning TKO team at the 2016 US Open Bowfishing tournament.|
|Robb Kemper with a 59 pound, 4 ounce Bighead Carp. Source|
Rough fish (or the slang trash fish) is a term used in the U.S to describe fish that are less desirable to sport anglers. Harriet Carlander, in History of Fish and Fishing, explained that the term "rough" was a term used for lower valued fish that had only been partly processed during a busy day of fishing. These fish could not be sold for full price. In northern Europe the term is coarse fish. The negative connotations of the term “rough” fish are unfortunate and the term must be abandoned. Putting Buffalo fish, carp, and gar in the same category for management makes no sense.
"What's in a name? That which we call a rose, By any other name would smell as sweet." These rough fish have values and the terms we use should reflect that value. For example, the common carp and the four Asian carps all have demonstrated a high probability of causing ecological and economic effects where populations become established (Conover et al. 2007). Regulations on bowfishing should be liberal to encourage the take of these species rather they are turned into food or fertilizer. Bowfishing tournaments have partnered with organic fertilizer companies to utilize the harvest. Carpbusters Inc., a non-profit, created the EcoCarp® project that take carp and make nutritious, affordable food for zoos, sanctuaries, and other applications.
|The 2016 US Open bowfishing tournament partnered with SF Organics to create healthy organic fertilizer products.|
|Specialized bowfishing gear and boats are used, such as the bowfishing equipped airboat. Photo by William Sikes|
Bennett, D.L., R.A. Ott, and C.C. Bonds. 2014. Surveys of Texas bow anglers, with implications for managing Alligator Gar. Journal of the Southeastern Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies 2:8-14.
Conover, G., R. Simmonds, and M. Whalen, editors. 2007. Management and control plan for bighead, black, grass, and silver carps in the United States. Asian Carp Working Group, Aquatic Nuisance Species Task Force, Washington, D. C. Available: http://www.asiancarp.org/Documents/Carps_Management_Plan.pdf. Accessed May 30, 2017.
Morrow, J.V., Jr, J. P. Kirk, and J. Killgore. 1997. Collection, age, growth, and population attributes of triploid Grass Carp stocked into the Santee-Cooper Reservoirs, South Carolina. North American Journal of Fisheries Management 17: 38-43.
Quinn, J.W. 2010. A survey of bowfishing tournaments in Arkansas. North American Journal of Fisheries Management 30: 1376-1384.
Waldman, J. 2005. 100 weird ways to catch fish. Stackpole Books, Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania.