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!
What you need to become a bowfishing guide
When evaluating your bowfishing boat to decide if it’s guide-worthy, here are a few questions to ask yourself.
- Can you take clients out without breaking USCG weight ratings for your vessel?
- Can your means of propulsion (outboard, fan, trolling motor, etc.) reliably put clients on fish all night and get back to the launch?
- Do you have a fire extinguisher, first aid kit, and enough life jackets/throwables on board?
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!
7. Last but not least… Your PERSONALITY!
Some of the best guides I know have these traits:
- Great listeners
- Great storytellers
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