By Dustin Mizell
I had never heard a 250-pound man yell like that. As I grabbed the line to keep the fish from jerking my bow in the water, I found out why he had screamed, and then I did the same.
I built my first bow with some fishing line and old bow parts. I shot a few fish, but looking back I laugh at how ridiculous my rig was. Later, some innovators came out with some basic bowfishing equipment and I was in business. I took the recurve bow every place I went and devoured every small bit of information regarding different hunting conditions and species.
It was not until I came back home to south Alabama that I found I had left the best bowfishing area in the world! A great hunting area, coupled with the new high tech gear available-- there would be no fish in safe waters.
Coastal Alabama is a premier location for this sport for many reasons. We will start with fresh water. A variety of freshwater species are available in close proximity. Some fish species harvested here are bowfin, carp, gar, alligator gar, buffalo, suckers, catfish, and shad. Most of the fresh water bowfishing is done at night with the aid of lighted boats. Bowfishing is productive during the day for some species, like gar for example.
Some of the best freshwater to enjoy this sport is in Mobile Bay and the surrounding delta and river areas. Most of these fish are very good eating. Carp and gar are edible, but difficult to clean. A fresh water trip in Alabama will often produce many shot opportunities at many different species.
If quantity is the intention, nighttime is often the better choice. Cruising along the shallows at night with powerful water piercing lights will bring the salty shore to life, with shiny fish swimming in and out of the lights constantly. Hundreds of mullet and monster stingrays will glide into your site. This is also one of the most effective ways of bagging flounder. Most of these species are very good eating and a night of frantic and fun-filled action will certainly fill your freezer.
If you want heart pumping fun in coastal Alabama, try offshore or deep sea bowfishing. Common species include sharks, snapper, tripletail, dolphin fish, tuna, and marlin. Shark is often the primary target. Chumming draws the sharks close enough to the boat for a shot. Nothing gets me excited like a shark below me and my bow at full draw! It's an experience that can't be imagined-- it must be experienced.
Other species will also show up while chumming. They can also be spotted while trolling or near structure. Some of the smaller fish species can be harvested with common recurves or compound bows, but the bigger species require special equipment. High poundage line and arrows are often used in conjunction with buoys to ensure the giant fish make it into the boat. This is a rare adventure that can not be enjoyed in very many areas of the world. It can also also fill your freezer with a ton of great tasting meat.
Animals that can be harvested with a bow and arrow are alligators and snapping turtles. A tag must be drawn in Alabama to hunt an alligator. A bow and arrow is not the most popular method of harvesting alligators, but it might be the most exciting-- you must use special gear for such a large animal because it is one of the few creatures that you have to fight to bring it in after you hit it with an arrow. Snapping turtles are hard to find, but when hit with an arrow they are another creature that you will have to fight to get your arrow back. Snapping turtles also taste great.
Bowfishing is an extremely addictive sport that combines many different types of outdoor activities and skills. Little to no experience is needed to begin, but there are always new goals to set. Veterans here will all tell you south Alabama is one of the few places where you can try it all.
Here is your first tip: Aim low because of the magnification of the water. It is often one inch low for every foot the fish is under the water. To experience this thrilling outdoor sport, book your trip of a lifetime with Captain Dusty Mizell of Fish-Kabob Bowfishing at 251-504-4709 or at