PORT ARTHUR — Texas archers can legally shoot any “rough fish” with a bow and arrow. Rough fish include gar (only one alligator garfish per day can be taken), carp, buffalo, grinnel (bowfin), mullet, and stingrays.
During spring and early summer, gar spawn in very shallow water and offer some tremendous shooting opportunities. Drainage canals are great places to find spawning gar, as are flats in the backwaters of reservoirs.
Some archers prefer to pursue the fish at night with spotlights, but I prefer bowfishing during the day. Small gar are plentiful at night, but I see far more during daylight hours and personally one 3-5 foot shoot gar for food. These days I pass on the super-sized specimens for conservation reasons.
Carp are also super fun to hunt.
I’ll never forget watching my cousin Frank Moore prowl like a cat through the waters of a large canal north of Deweyville. With surprising grace for someone wearing neoprene waders in ankle-deep mud, he scanned the murky waters for potential prey.
While scanning the shoreline behind me, I noticed him drawing his bow as a huge, yellow tail surfaced in a shallow grass flat, swinging lowly to the side like a ponderous oar. Before I could make out exactly what he was shooting at, a large carp shot out of the water with an arrow in its side, then rocketed away stripping all the line from his retriever rig.
“It's a big one!” he shouted. “A really big one!”
The arrowed carp put up a strong fight, cutting a roostertail wake in the shallows despite the arrow through its body. After a considerable struggle, the fish had enough and Frank retrieved it.
“I told you it was big,” he said as he strained to pick up the heavy fish. “It's going to make great trotline bait.”