After an action packed night or day out on the water and plentiful fish ending with overflowing barrels, you might start to think to yourself, "I bet I could make some money taking other people out!"
Here’s what you need to start your own bowfishing guide service!
When evaluating your bowfishing boat to decide if it’s guide-worthy, here are a few questions to ask yourself.
These things are not only very important to keep yourself and the clients safe, but imagine how it would look to get cited by the wardens/police while out on the boat in front of them!
To start taking clients out, you’re going to need bows - lots of them! Make sure you have adjustable bows (I suggest compound bows) to accommodate most draw weight and lengths. The majority of people are right-handed, but you should also have some left-handed bows to accommodate all your clients.
AMS retrievers are what I run with my charter service. Not only are they safe and easy to use, but the company my charter insurance is through requires them.
First time or new shooters tend to get very excited while drawing back, so equipping each bow with a fully enclosed rest will keep that arrow contained no matter how excited they are!
Before taking a client on your boat, you have to recognize how detrimental it could be if someone got hurt on your boat and filed a claim against you. I dealt directly with Gallagher Charter Lakes to get guide insurance on both of our bowfishing boats. It’s cheaper than you’d probably think, and knowing they have your back if something happens is priceless.
Make sure to abide by all your state and local laws regarding certification. Here in Wisconsin, all you need to purchase is a state guide license ($30) to guide in most small bodies of water. If you’d like to guide on large bodies of water or rivers considered navigable water by the Coast Guard, you must obtain your OUPV/6-pack Captains Credential. This license is by no means cheap or easy to get, but would put you a step above other guides in your area!
Some of the best guides I know have these traits:
Giving your clients an unforgettable night goes much further than simply the number of fish in the barrel at the end of the night. You could board 200 fish, but if your personality diminishes the overall experience, they’ll most likely find somebody else to go with next time.
Still think you have what it takes? Awesome! We wish you the best of luck and encourage your success with your bowfishing guide service!
Captain Hunter Engelman
Modified Outdoors Bowfishing Charters LLC
Bowfishing is a great way to spend quality time with your bow each summer. It’s also a good workout and fun way to spend time with your friends. Before heading to the lake or river with hopes of filling your boat with carp, ask yourself: Just what will you do with all those dead fish? Craft a plan to use the fish you shoot productively.
Legal fish species vary depending on where you are in the country. Some of the most common freshwater fish shot are bighead carp, common carp, grass carp, catfish, buffalo and several varieties of gar, including the massive alligator gar. Many of these fall under the category of rough (or trash) fish. Rough fish are those fish which fall outside of the category of sport fish. They are species not commonly eaten and are often invasive species. Because they are not typically targeted by fishermen, bowfishing is a very good means of population control and removal of these often undesirable fish.
To help you get started, we have compiled a quick list of every US state and whether or not bowfishing is legal, some of the rules, and what you should be aware of. We've also included links to each state's fish and game or department of natural resources website for more information. So let’s get started!
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