John’s Note: Jon Justice from Rockmart, Georgia, has been bowfishing for 12 years. Chuck Belmore, one of the hosts of “The Habit” (http://thehabit.tv/news/content/1-tv-show/) TV show, got him started in bowfishing. Today both Chuck and Jon host “The Habit” TV show.
Justice: I’ve had so many great trips that just picking one will be tough. But one trip that really stands out in my mind is a trip we made to Mississippi to fish on Chotard Lake near Vicksburg, Mississippi. This lake that once held many largemouth bass tournaments doesn’t anymore due to vast numbers of silver carp, an invasive species, that’s in the lake. The silver carp are those you may have seen on TV that jump out of the water and seem to fly 4 or 5 feet high. When a boat puts in at the boat ramp, the silver carp start jumping and create a problem for bass fishermen trying to launch their boats. There were so many silver carp shot that night I went that we nearly sunk a couple of boats with the large number we’d shot.
Phillips: Were you shooting those carp with your bow and arrow when they’d jump out of the water?
Justice: Oh, yes! And that’s what really made this trip so much fun. We might have 6-10 carp in the air at one time, which was like trying to shoot a covey of quail when they flushed.
Justice: We had to learn to shoot instinctively, depend on our muscle memory and calculate quickly where the carp would be in the air when our arrow arrived at the point of impact. Because there were so many carp jumping all at one time, I learned to focus on one spot in the air. Then I’d say to myself, “When one of those carp jumps into this zone, I’m going to take the shot.” When a carp flew into that area I’d chosen, I’d shoot and see what would happen. You learn how to lead the carp and when to release the arrow. But to shoot a jumping carp in the air, you can’t think about how you’re going to do it. You just shoot. After you start hitting the fish, then you try to repeat the same action you did when you were successful. Before long your brain learns to calculate distance, the speed of flight of the arrow and the speed of the carp as it jumps. Then you don’t even have to think. You let your muscle memory take over and shoot instinctively.
Phillips: Where do you take the shot?
Justice: When I would see the carp coming out of the water, I’d start drawing my bow. I’d instinctively know (after quite a few shots) where the peak of that fish’s jump would be. I’d release the arrow, so it would impact the carp at the peak of its jump – the stopping point between the carp going up in the air and falling back into the water. This was one of those unbelievable trips when there were plenty of targets in the air, and the shooting was non-stop.
Next: Bowfishing for Two Monsters – Alligator Gar and Grass Carp