Bowfishers spring into action at Rend Lake

Whittington, Ill. – Activity by bowfishing enthusiasts in the
central and southern portions of the state has began to heat up,
but many of the sportsmen hitting the water are finding fish
activity remains lukewarm.

One group, the Illinois Bowfishers, opened its tournament season
on April 17 with its fifth annual Billy Davis Memorial Tournament
at Rend Lake, which drew a total of 29 boat teams representing six
states. A six-team walking division at the tournament was hosted by
the Bowfishing Association of Southern Illinois, as well.

Despite an increase in attendance, harvest numbers for the
tournament were down considerably from last year, with the lion’s
share of the approximately 1,100 fish harvested being made up of
gar.

Tom Fowler, of Highland, had scouted the lake a week prior to
the tournament and said that while buffalo were hard to find then
as well, the common carp have been spawning hard.

“If they would have held this tournament the weekend before, you
would have probably seen an average of 100 fish per boat,” Fowler
said.

The actual average fish count per boat ended up being around 33
fish, with three teams finishing with more than 100. Many felt that
a cold front, which arrived on April 16 and brought temps down to
the 30s the night of the tournament, was to blame for the lower
carp sightings.

Illinois Bowfishers will be going next to Carlyle Lake on May 1
for the Lake Carlyle Classic and will also work jointly with BASI
to provide support for the Passing on the Tradition Illinois State
Youth Bowfishing Championship, which is on the same day.

Dave Mothershead, of Waterloo, has been bowfishing Rend Lake and
said that common carp began spawning the week of April 12 in the
flooded impoundment areas on the east side. Few gar were sighted,
however, and he saw little activity near the Kaskaskia River at
that time.

Eric Giles, of Marion, visited a number of southern Illinois
spots in early April. He said that at Crab Orchard Lake grass carp
and bowfin had begun spawning by April 10, though not as heavily as
last year, and that carp and buffalo were both spawning at Kinkaid
Lake. Giles had also been along the Big Muddy River where every
species for bowfishing was up, with bigheads and silvers hitting
the top.

Further to the north, in the central part of the state, Kendall
Carrigan found gar in the weeds at Rice Lake, but said that the
other fish apparently didn’t think it was time to come up as of
April 10. At Dawson Lake, he found carp active but not spawning. He
said that females were full of eggs but he didn’t see males chasing
at the time. He anticipates a good year there for carp.

During the same time frame at Lake Shelbyville, Mike Menden-hall
reported that spawning still hadn’t started and he wasn’t seeing
buffalo, although gar and some common carp were cruising the
surface in 55-degree water. Mendenhall, who bowfishes the lake
often, said he expected spawning to start in earnest there around
the first full week of May.

Pyramid open to bowfishing

Pyramid State Park in Perry County has opened all of its ponds
and lakes in the original portion of the park to bowfishing this
year. In addition, the 50-acre Green Wing Lake and the 35-acre Blue
Wing Lake in the park’s Denmark Area, as well as the 125-acre
Goldeneye Lake in the Galum Area, are available to bowfishers.

Cha Hill, Pyramid State Park superintendent, said that
approximately 90 percent of these waters would require a boat due
to steep banks and foliage, but that the spillways for the three
lakes in the newer portions should be fine for bowfishing on
foot.

The Pyramid waters have a 10 horsepower limit.

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