Well, January has finally arrived. For those of us here in the north, that means deer season is over and hard water (that's ice for our southern friends) is upon us. Although we still have ice fishing and small game hunting, I use this time to do inventory of my bowfishing gear and determine what upgrades I want so I’m ready by ice off.
Ice off is hands down some of the best shooting you will have all year. Fish are still schooled up and coming in to feed in warmer, shallower waters. That means it’s one of the best times to get on some of the biggest fish you will shoot in one location. As an added bonus, the water is so cold the fishes' metabolism is slowed down enough to make them sluggish. Often times, you can get multiple shots at the same fish without moving the boat.
1. Check your bowfishing bow
How is that bow of yours holding up? With the number of shots we take in a season, our strings may only hold up for a year or two. It’s good to keep an eye on your string to avoid a bow failure while out on the water. Cables even need to be replaced from time to time, so keep an eye on those as well.
2. Give your bowfishing reels a tune up
We try our hardest not to have a reel failure in the middle of a tournament. However, sometimes it just happens. We don't throw that “broken” reel in the trash either. A lot of major reel manufacturers sell replacement parts and kits to fix your reel. With some time, and a few tools, you can get that reel as good as new in no time. And while you're at it...
3. Change the line in your reel
I should have known better. First tournament last year, we roll into a new spot, I arrow the biggest gar I’ve seen In my life, around 50 inches. For Michigan, that is a giant gar. I stuck the gar and with one kick, the fish snapped my frayed line and took off never to be seen again. So for every reel you have rolling into the new year, change the line.
4. Replace any broken nocks
A lot of times an arrow will go down just because of a broken nock. Which in reality is a simple fix. Strip the remaining nock off the fiberglass and glue on a new one.
5. Replace dull tips
That dull tip is fixable, too. One of the greatest assets a bowfisherman can have is a sharp tip. One year, at the Great Lakes Bowfishing Championship (GLBC), I shot a really nice carp, or so I thought. When the arrow hit the fish, the arrow just bounced off the scales because the tip was so dull. Tips are cheaper than points and usually come with multiple per pack which makes upgrading multiple arrows convenient.
6. Do a flex text on your bowfishing arrows
The most common arrow type on the market today has to be the fiberglass shaft. Fiberglass arrows tend to break in chunks or fray. For the safety of yourself, and others, try doing a flex test. Take the arrow and hold it close to your ear. Bend the arrow and listen for any cracking. Twist the arrow 45 degrees and repeat. If you hear cracking, the arrow is damaged. The last thing you want is an arrow to shatter mid-shot.
7. Make sure your boat and trailer are ready
If you own a boat, there will be times when something goes wrong. It could be as simple as lights or tires on your trailer. Now is the perfect time of year to go outside and work on it. Boat projects have got to be the biggest focus for the spring thaw. Whether it’s moving stuff around to get more organized, upgrading your lights or building a new deck, it’s a great time to do those big projects you put off during last bowfishing season.
This list may seem like a lot, but knowing where you stand today can make for much better bowfishing tomorrow. With some of the best shooting of the year fast approaching, it’s nice to have everything ready. I find it best to get on these projects as soon as possible. That way everything is done and ready for shooting as soon as the ice thaws.
Also, as a relatively new father and husband, the financial burden isn’t felt quite as much if you stretch it out over the next three months. If you are looking to restock any items, go check out the Loxley store for your bowfishing gear needs.
- Jonathan Beebe
Johnathan Beebe is an expert bowfisherman from Michigan with 20+ years of experience. He was the winner of the 2019 Great Lakes Bowfishing Championship (GLBC) and is a proud member of the Loxley Bowfishing team.
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