The fast-paced sport of bowfishing is an absolute blast, but it has also evolved into a valuable conservation and wildlife management tool.
Most of the species of fish that are targeted by bowfishermen are considered non-game or rough fish and are not commonly pursued by anglers. Moreover, many of these species are classified as invasive and pose a threat to the propagation of native game-fish species.
Due to their classification, many targeted bowfishing species’ usefulness is disregarded. As ethical outdoorsmen, it is important to utilize the game we pursue, and this includes those species that are taken with your bowfishing rig.
Continue reading to learn more about 3 great ways to utilize your bowfishing harvest.
1. Meal Prep
Likely one of the most overlooked uses for invasive, non-game fish species is consumption.
However, if cooked properly these fish can provide a great tasting meal.
There is a ton of recipes online that you can find for each of these species. Be sure to do a bit of additional research when you finish this article.
Carp have been long used across the world as a food source.
When prepared and cooked properly they can be surprisingly delicious. Two of the best ways to prepare carp are by smoking or baking the filets.
Be sure that you cover your prep surface before filleting the fish because carp do have a potent smell that can stay on cutting boards.
Carp filets also contain a lot of oils, so be aware that these oils can raise the cooking temperature of the meat and cause charring.
Snakehead is another rough fish that can make a great meal. Snakehead is a boney fish, so be prepared to pick some bones from the cooked filets.
One of the best ways to cook snakehead is by preparing a dry rub to apply to the filets and slow cooking them on the grill.
Another bowfishing species that is great for the grill is the Longnose Gar.
A barbeque or a Caribbean marinade with some lemon zest is a great choice for cooking gar.
One of our favorite species of fish to eat is stingray.
Make sure you allow the meat to soak in saltwater to draw the subtle taste and smell of ammonia from the meat prior to cooking.
Stingray meat is a great option for barbeque, but many people prefer to prepare it with a Caribbean Jerk and serve it on a bed of fried rice.
Of all the species that are legal to bow fish, there is an argument to be made that Catfish is the best.
You can cook Catfish in just about any way that you would cook other game fish and it will provide a great meal.
Still, it’s hard to beat fried catfish.
Frying catfish filets and using them to make Po’ Boys is definitely one of the best and most delicious ways to eat these fish!
Chances are, you might land more fish in the boat than your family can eat and interested in other ways to utilize them.
Instead of throwing fish out, which may be in violation of wanton waste laws in some states, consider using them as fertilizer.
Indigenous cultures have used the waste parts of fish as fertilizer for hundreds of years.
Fish are filled with many bioavailable nutrients that plants can effectively repurpose and thrive off of.
Chemically manufactured fertilizers may contain higher levels of Nitrogen, Potassium, and Phosphorus than fish, but there is evidence to suggest that when these nutrients come from fish fertilizer they are more easily absorbed by plants.
So, if you have a garden in the back yard, don’t miss out on the opportunity to utilize some free, organic fertilizer!
3. Dog Treats
Another great use for your bow fishing harvest is to make some homemade dog treats for man’s best friend.
Most fish meat spoils quickly, and soft fish like carp are very susceptible to spoiling – especially if all the blood is not removed during the cleaning process.
To preserve your bowfishing harvest and make it go a little further, get a food dryer and dry filet strips into fish jerky treats for your dog.
Your dog will love them, and they are very nutritious and free of color additives and preservatives.
Hopefully, the above list will get you thinking about new and different ways to utilize the fish you take while bowfishing.
If you are looking for more bowfishing articles about equipment, tips, and tactics – make sure to check out our Fin-Finder bowfishing blog.