Category Archives: Canyon Ferry Reservoir

Bowfishing for Carp on Canyon Ferry Reservoir

Carp can weigh as much as 40 pounds.

Carp can weigh as much as 40 pounds!

Sport fishing. With a bow and arrow. For carp. Disgusting, bloody, barbaric. And eww, the smell of flopping, decaying sucker-lipped fish. But what a BLAST!

Ron and I were first introduced to carp shooting in 2006 when we went to the Montana Bowhunters Association “Carp Safari” at Canyon Ferry Reservoir. Now we go back each summer to partake for a day or two in this deadly and delirious sport.

We rig our traditional equipment for bow fishing with an inexpensive Zebco reel attached with a rubber strap, and some heavy-duty fishing line tied to an unfletched arrow. We wear hip waders and walk the shallow waters to stalk spawning carp along the banks and inlets of Canyon Ferry.

Double shot carp

Ron lost an arrow in this carp, so he had to shoot it a second time to retrieve his arrow.

Carp splash all around. The water muddies as their yellowish brown scaled bodies gyrate above water and just below the surface. Thunk. Splash, splash, splash. One less carp. An arrow through the body. If you hit them in the head, there’s no splashing, just a trail of blood. And one less carp.

These carp are actively spawning at Canyon Ferry in June and July. They can lay up to 300,000 eggs and spawn several times a year.1 There are literally thousands of these monsters along the pristine shores of this mountain reservoir during the summer months.

Carp shoot on Canyon Ferry Reservoir

Carp can lay up to 300,000 eggs and spawn several times a year.

The Montana Field Guide states, “The introduction of carp into North America from Asia is considered to be one of the greatest mistakes in the history of American fisheries management by biologists who have documented the widespread loss of native fish and habitat to this aggressive intruder.”2 Not only do their feeding and spawning habits disturb sediments and effect water quality, but carp also prey on the eggs of other fish species.

Ron and I generally practice catch and release, but these fish are not trout. Ron often says, “Trout are God’s canvas.” If that’s the case, then carp must be the devil’s spawn.

Carp shoot on Canyon Ferry

Bowfishing for carp on Canyon Ferry Reservoir.

1 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Common_carp

2 http://fieldguide.mt.gov/detail_AFCJB08010.aspx