Hundreds of bowfishers, and total of 72 boats descended on Aurora, Kentucky over the weekend for a record setting Bowfishing Association of America’s (BAA) World Championship tournament.
Said BAA Points/Sanctioning Chairman, Amanda Nichols “Kentucky always has the biggest turnout for the World’s, but this year was the record year so far for turnout for any of the World’s tourneys. This is the biggest World’s to date and we would like to thank everyone for their support and participation in the 2014 BAA World Championship. Without all of the bowfishermen and the supporters we couldn’t have done it. Big thanks to Marshall County for all the support and donations towards this event.”
The BAA’s World championship Tournament brings the best of the best bowfishers from across the country to compete for nearly 14,000 dollars in prize money. The first place winning teams in the Big 20 Division and Numbers Division both went home 3,000 dollars richer and payouts were also made to those in the top five slots.
But “The World’s” as it is referred to by bowfishers is much more than just another tournament, and just another purse. It’s a full blown weekend event that gives bowfishers from across the country a weekend together filled with friendship, fellowship and fun. For many it is the one event of the year where all of their bowfishing buddies are in one place.
For the communities that that host the World’s it’s a huge influx to the local economy. “It’s hard dispute what we bring in, when that guy with the truck and airboat walks into to your gas station and slaps 4 hundred dollar bills down just for fuel. “ Said Mark Lee, President of BAA. Lee pointed out the economic benefits to the community in dollars spent on lodging, meals, and trips to local shops for last minute items. Additionally local civic groups can help fill their organizations coffers by providing food, drinks, etc. at the tournament site.
At this year’s Worlds the Aurora Fire Department Ladies Auxiliary were kept hopping serving up food both before and after the tournament. “We are just thrilled to have the bowfishers in Aurora – we had the Kentucky State Shoot here earlier this year and we loved every minute of it. We couldn’t wait for the Worlds to get here. Our small community is suffering, just like so many, and the bowfishers bring us so much! “Said a representative from ladies auxiliary.
That sentiment was echoed by Tammy Nanney from nearby KenLake State Resort Park where “all those big bowfishing boats” were the talk of the resort guests and staff. Nanney pointed out that bowfishing at Kentucky Lakes is excellent, sporting some of the largest big head carp in the Midwest, and the myriad of available Kentucky State Parks lodging options from camping to cottages to resort level are always welcoming to those who plan a bowfishing vacation at Kentucky Lakes.
The tournament was truly a community affair, with many from Kentucky Lakes area coming out to talk with bowfishers, ogle the boats and equipment on display and to watch well-orchestrated take off of 72 boats.
Spectators gathered on piers below Kentucky Dam to watch tournament participants who were fishing the tailwaters
Companies and industries affiliated with the bowfishing community also recognize the importance of the World’s as a premier bowfishing event and provided excellent in kind and monetary support. For instance, PowerTran donated a full system as a prize in a side competition sponsored by their company.
PowerTran winners with representative Greg Pyle and tournament participant, and their new PowerTran system
This year’s successful BAA World Championship proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that bowfishing has arrived as an outdoor sport and is no longer considered fringe, redneck, or a bunch of goofballs with bows chasing fish in the dead of night. It requires specialized equipment, specialized skills, and is a great conservation tool for the removal of injurious and invasive species.
When the bowfishers arrive in your neighborhood – everybody wins.
For more information about bowfishing or the Bowfishing Association of America click here
Big 20 (twenty heaviest fish taken by each team) Division Top Ten
1st Tommy Woods, Hunter Woods, Scott Baxter - 585 pounds
2nd Gill, Taylor, Carlson
3rd Damian Loveless, Jermi Redden, Dennis Redden
4th Jo Lambert, David Lambert, Zach Lemire
5th Spiceland, Devine, Kitchens
6th Matt McGuyer, Chancy Crowell, Kenzie Taylor
7th Greg Pyle, Adam Hull, Josh Morris
8th John Hood, Greg Campbell, Brian Ellenberg
9th TJ Johnson, Gary Johnson, Alex Mosley
10th Bryan Hughes, Mark Land, Jeff White
Numbers (total number of fish shot) Division Top Ten
1st Bubba Suggs, Shawn Hoelzeman, Jason Gibson - 341 fish
2nd Keith Roberts, Marty Marrett, Virgil Robinson
3rd Craig Wardlaw, Josh York, Brandon Carter
4th Clint Horn, Marcus Hayes, Ramon McDonald
5th John Hood, Greg Campbell, Brian Ellenberg
6th Brian Little, Taylor Farrar, Bob Esper
7th Jerry Broadnax, Chad Sullivan, David Campbell
8th Monte Reid, Jordan Lancaster, Josh Terry
9th Nathan Bula, Matt Smazal, Brandon Cole
10th Tim Hunter, Mike Ellison, Eric Rowbatham
Big Fish Winner
John Hood, Greg Campbell, Brian Ellenberg 51lb grass carp
Bowfishing across Illinois is picking up and about to hit peak season. Along with that comes the flurry of social media posts, forum posts and boat ramp discussions about where bowfishing is legal , what’s legal to do when bowfishing. Just in talking with other bowfishers I find that many are woefully uninformed about the regulations, putting themselves at risk for violations.
IDNR did a superb job in the 2013 -2015 Fishing Digest of addressing bowfishing regulations. Something that previously had been lacking. Prior to this bowfishers who wanted to stay legal were forced to plunder through both the fish and wildlife code, talk with CPO’s and in general hunt hard just to figure out what was what.
Even with the good resources available in the fishing digest I still find bowfishers with several common misconceptions.
1. I can bowfish anywhere I see shootable fish. WRONG you can only bowfish in waters open to bowfishing. Referring to the digest again, there is clear map of waters along with site specific regulations listed for each body of water. The short version is this – if a site does not have the indicator that bowfishing is allowed listed – you can’t bowfish there. If it’s public land or water, it’s also very simple to contact the site superintendent to inquire. I frequently hear bowfishers say “Well, it doesn’t say to pole and line only so I am legal there” Nope – it must be designated as open to bowfishing with the required indicator. Additionally, entire areas or sites may not be open to bowfishing, may only allow bowfishing on foot, may only allow bowfishing by boat etc.
2. I can shoot fish from a bridge - WRONG – IL law clearly states “it is unlawful to discharge any bow and arrow device along, upon, across or from any public roadway, highway, or right of way. Highway (right of way) means the entire width in the boundary lines of EVERY PUBLIC road. Roadway means the portion of the public road that is improved or ordinarily used for vehicle travel excluding the berm or shoulder. That phrase excluding the berm or shoulder is what trips some folks up. Bearing in mind that the definition of highway extends all the way to the private property line; what folks would normally consider the shoulder of the road or right of way is not exempt, as it falls under the definition of highway. Since bridges are crossed by public roads – there you have it. No shooting from a bridge in IL.
3. I can shoot in the flooded field, or from a creek or river bank even if it’s private property. – WRONG – Unless you specifically have permission from the property owner to access flooded fields, unflooded fields with waterways or creeks you can not go in there on foot. If you access navigable water backwater or floodwater from navigable waters via boat you are fine until you anchor the boat or set a boot or a dog on land, then it becomes trespassing.
4. It’s okay to dump these fish in a ditch somewhere or throw them into a field on my way home, I’m just feeding the wildlife. And again, WRONG. There is never ever an excuse for dumping fish anywhere. While a farmer may give you permission to place them in his fields – insure that you have permission, and scatter them out some vs. just dumping in a pile.
Have a look at this previous post to see the conundrum currently facing folks in Illinois when it comes to fish disposal.
5. If I am on private property, I can do what I want, shoot whatever kind of fish I want. WRONG – fish and wildlife codes still apply. Just because the property owner says it’s fine to shoot bass or bluegill it’s not.
6. I can take my boat and lights and generator anywhere it will float. WRONG – be sure to check the area you intend to bowfish for any restrictions on motors, motor size, use of lights and generators at night. Some great bowfishing spots are also waterfowl areas/sub impoundments that have very specific motor regulations, and may be no motor zones. This means you as well as the duck hunters.
7. I have nothing to do with duck hunting so I can go in there and shoot fish even its duck season. Those duck hunting rules don’t apply to me. WRONG most duck hunting areas are closed to everyone for two weeks prior to the opening of season. If it is a designated waterfowl hunting area and season is open many are also closed to all activity that is not waterfowl hunting. Once again, check the site specific rules.
None of this is meant to dissuade anyone from enjoying bowfishing – but instead is to help folks stay legal and ethical. The better picture we present of bowfishers, the more widely it will be accepted as normal type of angling. Download a copy of the regs to your smartphone, so you have them readily available. Talk with area CPO’s when you have questions. Stay out of trouble, aim low and think big!
I recently had the opportunity to talk with Sharon Williams, Peoria County Board member and committee member for the 2014 Flying Fish Festival and Bow Fishing Tournament about the upcoming event that will be held July 11 and 12.
Williams was happy to share with me all of the fun that’s being planned around those dastardly silver carp. For a variety of reasons, the Peoria area seems to be ground zero for the hordes of invasive silver carp that have been working their way north through the Mississippi river system since the early 1990’s.
The Peoria area has come to grips with the thousands of invasive silvers and is working hard to turn a negative into a positive for the area, and the Flying Fish Festival is just one of many programs and activities in the works.
Williams stressed that the Flying Fish Festival is a family friendly fun event. “The bowfishing tournament is a piece, and we can’t wait to welcome all the bowfishing teams to our area, but there’s really so much more also going on with Flying Fish Festival.” Said Williams.
Williams shared that the festival is about preservation and conservation on the Illinois River, but it’s also about a whole boatload of fun as bowfishers and anglers with all variety of nets try their hands during the tournament to remove as many flying silver carp from the Illinois river as possible.
It’s worth noting that in a 2012 study by Southern Illinois University found that more than 60 percent of all fish in the Illinois River near Peoria were Asian carp. At the time, researchers recommended fishing and eating the carp in order to slow their growth.
The invasive fish can be highly detrimental to habitats they are introduced to, and tend to force out native fish through competition for food and habitat destruction. The US Army Corps of Engineers recently released a report that it may take as much as $18 billion to keep carp out of the Great Lakes. If the species should enter the Great Lakes system, it could spell disaster for the region’s fisheries and associated industries.
Since anglers have also found it next to impossible to catch the filter feeding silver carp on hook and line bowfishing has become the method of choice for sportsmen to take the infamous fling fish. Bowfishers find that the fish’s leaping ability adds a bit more excitement to their chosen method and helps to improve their archery skills as they make for fun and most challenging targets when in the air.
In addition to the bowfishing tournament, there will be these other great activities for the whole family to enjoy during the weekend.
Asian Carp Cuisine
Several local restaurants will prepare food using Asian carp. Award-winning Chef Philippe Parola from Louisiana will demonstrate preparation methods and assist local chefs.
Food sampling will occur on July 12 from 11 a.m. until 3 p.m. at Bass Pro Shops.
Two25 restaurant at the Mark Twain Hotel in Peoria
Par-A-Dice Hotel-Casino in East Peoria
Echo Valley Meats” in Bartonville (as seen on Shark Tank)
Schafer Fisheries of Thomson
Whitey’s BBQ in East Peoria
Uncle Bucks Fish Bowl & Grill at Bass Pro Shop in East Peoria
Among the carp “delicacies” are:
Smoked carp pizza
Beer battered carp
Canned cooked carp
Additionally these family friendly activities will be going on from 10a.m. until 3p.m. Saturday July 12 at Bass Pro Shops.
The Illinois Department of Natural Resources will have a tent with kid friendly activities, a biologist to talk about the carp specifically,complimented by displays of mounted carp and educational material.
Wildlife Prairie Park will have educational displays and activities.
Bass Pro Shops will host several activities including youth archery, casting, and fishing booths.
The tournament weigh-in is at 2 p.m. at Bass Pro, when everyone will learn who’s the king of the carp killers!
For additional information, including entry forms, rules, and payouts for the bowfishing tournament please visit Flying Fish Festival
So mark your calendar Heartland friends, and make plans to attend this great event!