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The night is quiet, except for the hushed hum of the generator. Directly in front of you, the water is lit up with all of the intensity of the midday sun, a stark contrast to the wall of darkness just a few feet away. You catch the slightest hint of movement in the corner of your eye, putting your senses on high alert. As the shadow just beneath the water’s surfaces inches closer, you instinctually draw, holding your arrow at the ready. As the silhouette passes directly below, you relax your grip let loose your arrow.

With the rapid rise in invasive species in our nation’s waterways, the popularity of bowfishing has risen exponentially. For many bowhunters, it is a great way to keep their skills sharp, and extend their season. Because the most of the fish targeted are classified as ‘rough fish’ they can be taken year-round in many states. There are opportunities in just about every state to test your aim with the creatures of the briny deep, with the Midwest and the states along the Mississippi River perhaps providing the most opportunities. Carp provide most of the shooting, but Gar, Buffalo, Freshwater Drum, Bowfin, Catfish, Suckers, and Paddlefish also provide sport. Some intrepid anglers are even pursuing skates and rays with the stick and string.

However, DIY bowfishing is not a cheap endeavor. In addition to the bowfishing bows, bowfishing reel, and bowfishing arrows you will also need a boat capable of taking you to the shallows where these fish live. But you’re not done yet- you still need to add a full array of bowfishing lights to your list of fishing supplies to make your time on the water as productive as possible. So before you go out and plunk down the money to invest in a custom boat decked out with all of the lights and other gadgets, give it a shot with a guide.

The best way to get started in this growing sport is to hire a guide. They will have all of the expensive equipment needed, as well as the knowledge you need to significantly shorten the learning curve. You may be an excellent shot on dry land, but on the water refraction kicks in and completely changes the game. Only experience, and a good teacher, can help you stick these tough shots. So before you plunk down some serious coin on the ultimate bowfishing rig, get yourself a good taste of the action with a seasoned pro who can show you the ropes. Who knows? It may just turn into your biggest outdoor passion…