What Is Paddle Board Bowfishing?

by Kyle
What Is Paddle Board Bowfishing?

Paddle Board Bowfishing is the art and sport of hunting fish with a specialized bow while on a paddle board. This is done in shallow water close to shore or on a dock, where other normal fishing methods are not practical. 

A Paddle Board Bowfisherman (PBBow) sits on a paddleboard while the board’s stability makes it easier to shoot. This also allows PBBow’s to get into areas where normal fishing methods are not possible or just plain difficult.

Although sport is relatively new, it has become very popular in just a short amount of time.

Overview Of Paddle Board Bowfishing

Paddle Board Bowfishing was first made possible by the invention of specialized bowfishing arrows. These arrows were specifically designed for paddle boarders to get much further from shore than they would with a normal bow and arrow. 

The specialized bow shafts are balanced for use on the water. They also have a smaller profile to fit into the specialized paddles and paddle board arrow holders. 

The arrows themselves have a substantial diameter to make up for being shot from a long distance out in the water. They are also designed with extra weight so that they fall faster than normal archery or fishing arrows. 

After these advancements were made, it wasn’t long before the paddle boarders were shooting everything from catfish to largemouth bass. Now, paddle board bowfishers catch everything from snook to redfish, and even saltwater species like tarpon and sharks.

Paddle board bowfishing is easy to acquire skills for, and after a few days of practice, anyone can be an expert. Each year Paddle Board Bowfishing gains popularity as more people discover its fun and exciting aspects unique to PBBow fishing.

How Do You Catch Fish Paddle Board Bowfishing?

How Do You Catch Fish Paddle Board Bowfishing?

Catching a fish with a bow is about accuracy, not distance. You must learn how to shoot instinctively and get as close as possible, so your arrows will hit the target in the vitals of the fish. 

There are many tricks or tactics you can use to catch fish. For instance, some bait fishing methods with a bow are possible, but this is tougher than spearing the fish directly. 

Fish often hang tight against structures such as docks and boat slips, and they don’t often move around. This makes it easier to shoot accurately at them.

If you are going into deeper water further from shore, I recommend using an archery float arrow tipped with special barbless fishing. 

Most fish are stunned or killed instantly by a PBBow shot. However, other times you may have to get the arrow back and hit it again. Never reel in your catch until after you confirm that it is dead.

Paddle Board Bowfishing Tips

Below are some of our best tips for an amazing paddle board bowfishing trip. 

  • Go early in the morning before the wind arises or late afternoon when the tide is running out. Find fish that are feeding, not just suspended- you must see fish below your line of sight and well within shooting range. 
  • Each state has different regulations, so please visit your local DNR Website to get the latest information. 
  • Bring an extra paddle with you if you break or lose one while shooting or fighting a fish. I would also recommend carrying a life-vest. This could save your life if something bad were to happen and you.
  • The best way to bow fish is with a kayak fishermen’s paddle board. However, any self-bailing board can work.
  • Be Patient. Most fish may not hit on the first pass.
  • Try different arrow types, including broadheads, cut-on contact, and barbless arrows.  Cut-on contact works well in 24-inch water or more, while barbed arrows are better for deeper water less than 6 feet deep.
  • Never shoot the arrow while you are holding your breath.  Holding your breath will raise your heart rate and increase the chance of a miss.
  • Make sure you have a good shooting platform for your bow to sit on, so you don’t have to hold it up from below water level. This becomes difficult in 24-inch water, and if your arms get tired, your accuracy will suffer. I have a shooting platform that sits on top of my board to kneel, stand or sit to shoot.
  • Wear polarized sunglasses to reduce glare from the sun and water surface while aiming.
  • Always drink plenty of liquids before going out and while out on the water to avoid dehydration.
  • The more board you have under your feet, the easier it will be to shoot accurately. This is because it becomes harder to keep your balance in deeper water when standing on the narrow part of a standard paddle board. I recommend getting a stand-up paddle board with padding at knee or thigh level to help keep your balance when standing.

What Gear Do You Need For Paddle Board Bowfishing?

Bowfishing requires appropriate gear. If you have never bowfished before, here is a list of some top-rated products that work well while paddle boarding.

GoPro Hero4 Black 

This is on my list of things I need for paddle board bowfishing. It is an action camera that can be mounted anywhere and has a special setting for underwater use. It also shoots in 4k video for amazing underwater footage.

Archery Float Arrow

Barbless arrows or special barbless fishing tips with the same weight and balance as a normal broadhead arrow.

Paddle Board Saddlebag

These are easy to carry your gear and still keep it close at hand if needed.

Paddle Board Arrow Res

This keeps the arrow steady in the water and off your paddle, so you don’t get tangled up while paddling. It also reduces bounce back when shooting in deeper water.

Moment DW Paddle Board 11

This is the perfect SUP for paddle board hunting. It has two large padeyes where you can attach a shooting stick and arrow rest for stability. Although it is not specifically designed for archery, it has a large surface area for the board to sit on and provides a stable shooting platform.

Flexible Shooting Stick

This is a piece of carbon fiber rod about the size of a popsicle attached to either side of my paddle board where the padeyes are located to set up my bow and arrow between paddles when they are clipped on. This allows me to keep my hands on the paddle and use my leg to shoot.

Bow Holder

This is a bale that slips over my bow wrist strap to keep the bow secure while paddling. It also helps me keep track of where it is during those times, I have to put it down somewhere between fish or out in the open water trying to get back to my kayak.

Belly Band Archery Bow Holder

This is a neoprene archery bow holder with velcro straps and comes in a universal size to fit any bow up to 35 inches long. I have tried different methods of keeping my bow secure on the water and getting tangled in the paddle. This is by far the most secure and fastest way to mount my bow.

Floating Arrow Stops

These keep your arrow in place on the surface of the water when you’re not shooting. They are also good for keeping your arrow out of the way when climbing on and off your paddle board or shore landing it.

Paddle Board Bowfishing Footwear

These shoes have an Aqua Seal that keeps water from getting in through the toe and heel areas. The upper part of the shoe is made of a waterproof dry suit material and has special drain holes to allow water out. They make a huge difference when paddle boarding in those areas that are shallow or have underwater obstacles like submerged logs, stumps, or rocks.

Archery Gloves

These are a good pair of lightweight gloves with a soft lining inside and Velcro straps that keep them secure. They are not waterproof, but the snug fit keeps water from getting into your hands.

The Advantages and Disadvantages of Paddle Board Bowfishing

Paddle Board Bow Fishing

Like all things in life there are advantages and disadvantages, and the same thing goes for paddleboard bowfishing. Here are some of the advantages and disadvantages that you should know about before you go paddle board bowfishing:

The Advantages of Paddle Board Bowfishing

The biggest advantage to paddle board bowfishing is that it doesn’t require boats or trailers. When I am done, I paddle off and float in the water until I figure out my next move or paddle back to shore. It’s also nice not having to deal with other boaters on the river while chasing monster fish like this guy.

The biggest advantage to paddle board bowfishing is its stealth and mobility. I can get into those small sloughs and coves that are hard for big motorboats to maneuver through. Once in the area you want to fish, you can stay out longer than someone who has a bunch of gear they have to haul back and forth.

The Disadvantages of Paddle Board Bowfishing

The biggest disadvantage to paddle board bowfishing is that you have to be more mobile than someone sitting in a kayak. You can’t just anchor up on the bank and set up your bow. That also means you lose the stability of both feet planted and solid footings like those who use tree stands or ground blinds. You will need some shooting stick, paddle board bow holder, or a combination of both.

Start Paddle Board Bowfishing Today!

Paddle boarding is a fun sport that many people are enjoying. Whether it’s paddling around looking at fish while waiting patiently to shoot or just a hobby to develop your balance and core, paddle board bowfishing is gaining popularity because it is an easy transition from one of the most popular board sports.

If you have any other tips or suggestions, please let me know in the comments section below!

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