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What would you do when you have a couple young kids and the buffalo are spawning? You take off work, arrange for the kids to get there and go get ‘em! That’s what I’d do anyway.
It was Mid-May and we were patiently awaiting notice of the annual 2-3 day buffalo spawn on Castlerock Flowage. A friend of mine had been watching the water every day, waiting to catch the beginning of the spawn and finally, he called me one day at work.
“They’re going.” He reported. “We shot a few 50 pounders yesterday.” I wasn’t sure whether I could take the day off. We were busy, and there was plenty of work to do. It was the middle of our busy season, but it was also one of those weeks. I told him I’d see what I could do. He was already on the water for round two of Buffalo hunting and I couldn’t stand it.
It was hot, clear, and calm. Perfect conditions for bowfishing, especially during the buffalo spawn. It was killing me, the buffalo were spawning. I had yet to shoot a buffalo. Work is always there. I could go bowfishing and work late some other day. I couldn’t concentrate on anything, anything but the buffalo hunting that I was missing.
Within minutes I had a plan, called Joel back and told him to save some fish for me, I was on my way. I grabbed my gear, hopped in the truck and headed out to meet them on the water. I expected to be there around noon. I convinced my husband, Jeff, that it was my turn to bust out from the daily grind. But, I wanted my kids to come out too, to experience the spawn, so he stayed at the shop and waited for the kids to get home from school. Then he’d come down with them and our boat to show them what the spawn was all about.
I arrived at the landing and hopped into Joel’s boat and out we went. He took me to their favorite haunting grounds and the buffalo were spawning everywhere. They were in the middle of the channel, in the weeds, pairing up and spawning. The dorsal fins of very nice sized females were breaking the water surface. They were surrounded by smaller males, fertilizing the eggs as she released them. I saw a nice group, picked out the big female and let my arrow fly. It was a nice fish, about 20 pounds and had she still been full of spawn, I bet she’d have weighed ten pounds more.
“Shoot her again!” I shouted. I wasn’t sure that my arrow was going to hold as she fought so Joel backed me up and we boated the fish! It was my first buffalo carp and a nice one at that. “That’s a little one.” Joel kidded me as we ventured on in search of those 50 pounders that he had promised. We arrowed a few more and headed back to the boat launch to meet up with Jeff and the kids.
The kids were so exited to be on the water. Sawyer is 8 and Sierra is only 6. They’ve been shooting bow for a couple years and we’ve been telling them that this year they would be shooting their first carp. They were both armed with Mathew’s Mini-Genesis bows, AMS Retriever reels and short kid-sized arrows with AMS safety slides and short tips. We shorten the arrows and use the points that require less penetration for the kids gear. Their bows were only set at about 20 pounds but should have no problem penetrating a fish at close range.
They were ready and very excited to take their first shots of the season at these fish! They each took a few practice shots before we arrived back into the honey-hole. Sawyer shot, then Sierra. Both missed a couple times but were still giving it 100%.
Finally, Sawyer spotted a nice buff wiggling around on a shallow flat. Without words, he took aim quickly and shot. Sure enough, his arrow took off and danced around in the water! Fish On! He set his bow down, knowing this fish was a fighter and brought his fish in like an old pro. Hand over hand, he pulled it in, with an ear to ear smile. I had the camera on, and wasn’t thinking about providing a backup shot. Joel was there to help him bring it in the boat. Joel grabbed the arrow and gently pulled it up while also trying to support the weight of the fish with his other hand. The arrow pulled out. Now Joel was left to bring the fish in with his bare hands! What a sight! Tail in one hand and head in the other, the fish started flopping and threw water all over. He did what he could, but holding on to a wet slimy carp is like trying to catch a greased pig. Finally, he was able to scoop the fish up and toss it into the boat! Sawyer was thrilled! We couldn’t wipe the smile off his face if we tried. Sawyer had just shot his first fish!
Then, only minutes after the water exploded with Sawyer connecting with his fish, we approached a patch of weeds that was wiggling and Sierra saw something move beneath it. I didn’t see anything, but she shot. Then, her arrow twitched and swam off. She didn’t quite realize what had happened! “You Got One!” I shouted. “Crank him in!”
She jumped into action and did what a 6-year-old could and finally got the fish boat-side. Somehow, she found the smallest common carp in the lake and arrowed it. It was a “Sierra-Sized Carp,” about 5 pounds and she was as thrilled! It was her first carp. How many kids can say “I shot my first carp when I was six?” What a milestone, huh? Only in our family.
A few days later we went out again night fishing with the kids. Sierra decided she was too tired to shoot that night, but Sawyer stood up on the platform all night, until finally we found fish. He arrowed two more fish that night. We’ve started a new generation of bowfisherKIDS. They’ll be on the water shooting fish with the rest of us real soon. Take your kids bowfishing. Spend a day on the water, boat around, talk, laugh and shoot at fish. Its quality time, whether or not the fish are there, or whether or not anyone can hit one. It’s just a great time on the water and a memory that will last a lifetime.
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