Bullseye for bow anglers
Springfield — The spring legislative session ended with little to offer sportsmen – except for those with a hankering to stick a catfish.
As the sport of bowfishing takes hold across the state, it seemed natural for lawmakers to move forward a measure that will allow the addition of the whiskered fish to the list of aquatic species that can be taken by bowfishermen.
House Bill 5788, which passed both Houses on May 25, adds catfish to the list of aquatic species that “may be taken by pitchfork, underwater spear gun, bow and arrow or bow and arrow device, including a sling shot bow, spear, or gig.”
It now awaits the signature of Gov. Bruce Rauner.
Groups like the Bowfishing Association of Illinois (BAI) had been pushing for the addition of catfish for some time.
“This is a great step for fair utilization of the resource for all who bowfish,” BAI proclaimed on its Facebook page following the vote. “BAI have worked with the DNR for several years to gain this opportunity and we thank them for all the work they have done on it. We are very proud of this accomplishment.”
If Rauner signs the legislation – there is no reason to believe he won’t – DNR will then issue a proposed administrative rule change notice outlining any regulations regarding species, limits, and any restrictions regarding the bodies of water where catfish can be legally taken by bow and arrow.
During the administrative rule process, the public will have an opportunity to comment regarding any specific rules regarding bowfishing for catfish that will be issued.
BAI indicated that it expects the process to take time, but is hopeful things will be set by early next year.
“We will be bowfishing catfish on April 1, 2017 at the latest,” the group predicted.
Meanwhile, BAI and other bowfishing groups warned that it is important for bowfishers “to refrain from taking any catfish by bow and arrow until the rule change process is complete”
HB 5788 was filed by Rep. Charlie Meier, R-Okawville. He also filed HB 5796, which also passed and is awaiting Rauner’s signature. It “provides that the limits on the number and size of fish a person may take in a day do not apply to a person fishing in waters wholly within his or her private property.”
Silencers for hunting stalls
In other action, House Bill 433, which would allow the use of suppressors, or “silencers,” stalled as the session ended.
Filed by Rep. Brandon Phelps, D-Harrisburg, in January of 2015, the bill died during the spring session last year but came back to life this January. It gained a little more momentum, picking up co-sponsors from both parties. Specifically, language in HB 433: “Removes a prohibition on the use of a silencer or other device to muffle or mute the sound of the explosion or report resulting from the firing of any gun.” It also states that it would be illegal to possess, transport or use a silencer for the taking of game, “unless such silencer, suppressor, or device is in compliance with the National Firearms Act.”