We’ve all heard the old saying, “you don’t get a second chance to make a first impression.” While this may be accurate, sometimes an overwhelmingly positive second impression can completely overturn the first.
I’m talking of course about our dear friend the polar vortex (DUN DUN DUNNNN!!) I lambasted the weather media for exploiting a doomsday-ish term they found lurking in the first printing of the Encyclopedia Britannica, used simply for sensationalism and attracting viewers, back in January when it first appeared. Now my tune has changed, drastically, and after the type of weather we endured this past weekend, I’m celebrating the coming of another polar vortex!
Although it was so hot and humid it made your knees sweat on Saturday, we are allegedly on the verge of much cooler weather, with lows in the 50’s and high’s in the 70’s! Wednesday looks to be the best day to take advantage of the weather, with the barometer well over 30. Although I spent the weekend in the pool, manning the grill, and playing game after game of volleyball (I have no explanation for my new-found love of America’s 17th favorite sport, but dang it it’s fun!) there were some among us who got out and caught and/or shot some fish!
My buddy Kevin Murphy was back at Kentucky Lake pulling crankbaits, and put up decent numbers of crappie again, although he dealt with some serious trials and tribulations in the process.
The tactic of pulling crankbaits, as I have described in this article previously, requires baits to be 100+ ft. behind the boat and moving at a speed of 1.5 mph respectively. Pulling eight crankbaits is the norm, and even with poles spreading them out as much as possible, incidents arise. Kevin found crappie in 12 ft. of water, right off a 10 ft. flat. The problem was that the 10 ft. flat was loaded with catfish, largemouth bass, stripers, and so on.
The only way to get to the crappie was by making big, wide turns over the flat the cross back through the target area. One 10 lb. catfish took it upon himself (or herself, I didn’t ask for specifics) to engulf one crankbait and fight through the other seven lines, providing one of the biggest clusters Kevin had ever seen. The color that worked the best, was once again “Awesome Pink” in a Bandit 300 series.
Jon Hunter from Southeast Missouri is the founder of SEMO Bowfishing, a bowfishing team that travels and fishes, or shoots, tournaments. Jon got into bowfishing in 2010, and started fishing tournaments shortly thereafter. He hooked up with another avid bowfisherman, Corey Bates in 2012, and SEMO Bowfishing was officially started.
For those of you who know nothing of the sport (and I am only slightly more informed), these guys rig up a boat with more lights than a Def Leapord concert, stand up on platforms on the deck of the boat, and quietly ease through the shallow waters looking for “rough fish” to shoot with a bow and arrow. The arrow is attached to a string, and once shot the fish is reeled in with a reel attached to the bow.
This is not a hunt for food, but for game, which is why the conservation departments of most states limit their quarry to only rough fish, i.e. Asian carp, grass carp, common carp, buffalo, and gar. These species are not sought after by conventional anglers, and are therefor overpopulated and under-harvested, and the limits are quite liberal.
Jon’s equipment is extensive, but starts with an AMS Power Eagle bow with AMS Tiger Shark arrows. He fishes out of a 2070 Express rigged with eight, 50 watt Air Ranger Allwater LED’s, and ten, 27 watt LED’s. All the lights run off a 24 volt system, and when the power gets low, an onboard generator kicks on to recharge the batteries. He uses a 101 lb. Minn Kota tiller handle trolling motor, an 899 Humminbird Depthfinder, and a Yamaha 90 horsepower outboard. He built his own raised deck that puts the angler (or hunter, to be honest I’m not sure how to categorize the predator in this setup) up above the glare of the sun or the lights. The line is 200 lb. Decron braid.
The tournaments differ in that some are rewarded for a team’s biggest 20 fish, biggest 30 fish, most fish, or total weight. There is always a “Big Fish” prize, and there is always a side-pot for most fish shot. This past weekend was the First Annual Flying Carp tournament at Peoria, Il. on the Illinois River.
The problem was, the carp were not flying. The tournament directors had to deal with high water that kept the airborne and invasive fish from showing up, so they opened the contest to all rough fish. This played right into Jon’s hands, as he quickly gave up on the Asians and went to more familiar tactics targeting grass carp and buffalo.
Team SEMO Bowfishing, which can vary in team members but consisted of Jon Hunter, Luke Hunter, Josh Harding, and Max Clark from Outdoors in the Delta, won 1st place with their 20 fish haul weighing in at 179.3 lbs., and won 1st place Big Fish with a 19.73 lb. grass carp. They earned $1,825 for the win, and this marks SEMO Bowfishing’s 3rd win of the year, with other two coming at Wappapello and Reelfoot Lake.
The next tournament is at the Bowfishing Association of America’s World Championship next weekend at Kentucky/Barkley Lake. Jon wanted to thank his sponsors, Viscious Fishing and Outdoors in the Delta.
Josh M. Gowan, Outdoors Writer, Crappie Angler Magazine, www.joshgowanoutdoors.com