Bowfishing the Eau Pleine Reservoir
Finally, the winds quieted. Visibility increased under the bright halogen lights, and carp sightings began. The hunt was on!
Cindy asked us if we wanted to go bowfishing. She didn’t have to ask twice. So we set our sights on June. Linda Thompson drove from Michigan and we met Cindy on June 6th for a full evening of bowfishing on the Eau Pleine River and Reservoir (pronounced "O Plane") followed by a full day of bowfishing on Mead Lake, both located in central Wisconsin. Comprising over 6800 acres, the Eau Pleine Reservoir has ample room for Northern Pike, Walleye, Musky, Panfish, Bass and Bullhead… but what we were after, were the Carp. Cindy and her husband generously outfitted us each with their AMS Retriever Reel, channel rest, Muzzy arrows, Safety Slides, and Muzzy Quick-Release Fish Points. Cindy and Linda both used an older model Mathews bow for their bowfishing, while I borrowed an old compound from Cindy. Either a compound or recurve works well, with only 40 to 50 pound draw weights needed. Higher weights will only tire the shooter, as repetitive, quick shots are the norm. No sights are required. Just aim low, shoot, reel in. It’s that simple.
Right: The bright afternoon sun improved visibility for Cindy (left)
We slipped the boat into the murky water at 9 pm and headed for the shallows of the Eau Pleine Reservoir. The bright afternoon sun improved visibility for Cindy (left) and myself (right), but made our June bowfishing outing hot work as well. Spawning activity was slow by this late date, water unusually high due to record May rains throughout Wisconsin, and visibility poor due to current windy conditions, but we kept trolling and searching.
Finally the winds quieted, visibility increased under the bright Halogen lights, and carp sightings began. The hunt was on!
I detected some wiggling cattail weeds just yards away...
an indication a carp was "wallowing" there, and I shot at the base of the reeds where I’d seen a fin flick above the water. I instantly felt the weight on my line and excitedly reeled in my first carp ever!
The AMS Bowfishing boat we used was equipped with a generator, air fan, trolling motor, halogen lighting, raised shooting platform and a railing for safety.
Cindy handled the boat with the ease of someone who’s "been there, done that" for years, and she has. She and her husband Jeff have not only owned AMS Bowfishing for seven years, they have also bowfished and competed in tournaments every chance they get. They’ve bowfished everything from carp to paddle fish, to alligators and sharks. It was evident from her skill and enthusiasm that she loved every minute of it! We continued bowfishing into the middle of the night, finally calling it quits at 2 am.
We needed some rest!
The following day we returned to the water by 10am. As we sped across Mead Lake, a much smaller lake at just over 300 acres, we could easily see carp moving and spawning in the shallows; we couldn’t wait to begin shooting! However, we quickly learned daytime bowfishing was a tougher challenge. (At least today proved to be.) The carp were more active and much more wary and skittish. The spawning period was really winding down, so action was not as hot. We learned to shoot, and shoot fast! Overcast skies didn’t help our visibility and despite our repeated attempts, we were still without a fish by noon.
Cindy Braun displays her carp shot just moments later -->>
We motored over to Cindy’s parent’s cottage for lunch, and that’s when her daughter caught sight of us approaching the dock. I’ll never forget the moment her daughter called out to her Grandma who stood beside her on the shoreline, " There’s Mommy, and there’s two other women…
"There’s three women on the boat, Grandma!"
We all turned and beamed at one another. Three women bowfishing alone, I surmised, was indeed not a common sight for this young girl. How glad I was that we were changing that image! That alone lifted our spirits and we headed back out after lunch in a more optimistic mood.
The clouds had cleared, and the sun helped improve our visibility substantially. Not long after our return to the water, Linda Thompson arrowed a nice 18-pound carp, followed by several more shot by Cindy. By 4pm we were all tired, hot and worn out, so we called it quits and vowed to return earlier next year to catch the spawn at prime time. Regardless, we all had a great time and enjoyed our bowfishing outing. And yes, now I have but another hunting activity I enjoy, and another "dream hunt" to add to my list. Cindy enticed us with her stories of Louisiana bowfishing for alligators and sharks, knowing well enough this would not be our last time to venture onto the water with our bows. If you enjoy bowhunting, you will love the fast-paced action of bowfishing. Bow setups are simple and easy and there’s nothing better than heading onto the water to cure that "in-between seasons-I-wanna-hunt" itch. Take some time to try bowfishing and you’ll see how fun and addicting it is!
Arrowing my first carp was a thrill!
Linda Thompson follows suit and reels one in as well
For bowfishing equipment and advice, visit www.amsbowfishing.com
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