So what do you do when the temperature outside is 110 degrees and you don’t want to fish in it? You go night fishing! No not for bass (as in I’m to chicken to run the Dirty D at night), but you go Bow Fishing. I do this a few times a year with my wife Tracy and my two nephews Jim Rogers and Tim Rogers. Jim has the boat setup, which is a center console River Angler Jet Boat. This boat has an 84-lb. thrust trolling motor and against that current you will need all of it. Any boat will do for your drift, just make it a jet boat. I don’t advise running a prop on the Feather River, up near Gridley, too many gravel and sand bars, stumps and trees, and believe it or not a few cars. We also built a bow deck on it, with lights.
The water temperature was a cool 63 degrees, as they are letting water out of Lake Oroville, to the tune of about 7500 cfs. This is twice the flow what we normally shoot in but we were adventurous. Launched at 8:30 pm and were shooting at 9:00pm. The water, with this amount of flow, was murky and visibility was low below 3 three feet, above it was better, low water across a gravel bar was even better. I am an Elk and Mule Deer archery hunter, and I can say this is without a doubt the most fun you will have with a bow in your hand. To be successful you need to judge the clarity of the water, the depth of the fish, the speed of the fish, the fractionation of the fish in the water column, the speed of the current and the drift speed of the boat. What? You missed that fish, so what, reach back grab your favorite beverage and knock another arrow, because while you were doing that 20 fish just went by.
For this adventure you will need a fishing bow, several arrows and several replaceable tips. Do not use your elk hunting compound bow for this, as your draw weight is turned down to 20-25 pounds and you don’t use a sight. It’s a line of sight shot, like you do with a recurve bow or a long bow (which by the way people use). Your draw weight is turned down this much, because most times you are shooting in 3 feet of water or less, but at times down to six feet. I’ve seen arrows bounce back off bottom and bite you, because some rookie shot at Full Draw, in 2 feet of water. So, your draw should be ¼, ½, or full depending on your depth of the shot.
You can either go to the expense of buying a setup, which will run you $150-$200, or more, without the arrows, or you can do what I did and go on eBay and buy an old laminated wood, single cam bow, and convert it, with a fishing bottle and reel. I also bought this on eBay for about $70. Arrows will cost you about $15 each, which includes the string slides. You will need an arrow rest as well, the roller rests work just fine. Some setups, like my nephew Jim’s, doesn’t use a bottle and slide but a string tied directly to your knock! I like the slides. Also, make an arrow case out of three inch PVC pipe, with a female thread on one end, then get a male thread cap for it. It would be wise to make it floatable, however you do it. Next have a utility box with extra arrow heads, knocks, stops and stop screw, because you will break some. We boated 20 fish for our 5 hour drift, and we lost another dozen fish or more that got off the arrow! This may not sound like much, but I bet we each drew an arrow back 100 times and let it fly! Great fun! So for $20 in fuel it was a good time by all…..if you are up for it, you can drift all night and come in when the sun is coming up. Go have fun!