Asian carp have invaded the Illinois River near Peoria, Illinois and Carp Hunters Captain Nathan Wallick is doing his part to quell the destructive species’ expansion.
One year ago, Captain Wallick started his business leading guided trips in the Illinois River for bowfishing carp and other fish. He teaches his clients how to shoot a bow if they have never had the experience and then takes them out for an action-filled adventure on the water. The carp are particularly jumpy creatures that indeed bounce out of the water at the sound of a boat motor. Captain Wallick also has an aluminum hull that amplifies vibrations in the water, which make the fish jump out like popping popcorn.
The idea to start a guided bowfishing business came to him after he took family out on trips. He saw they were laughing and having such a great time that he thought, “maybe people would pay for this.” He got all the equipment he needed and a federal captain’s license. Now, business is booming and Carp Hunters will soon be featured on Animal Planet’s new show Off the Hook, premiering July 29.
Captain Wallick calls the area around Peoria “carp ground zero”; there are so many of them and every year he notices more and more Asian carp. While traditional bowfishing, where people shoot into the water, is still available, the silty water makes bowfishing for jumping Asian carp much more popular.
The sport is especially popular with people who are first-time fishers, many who have also never been hunting before.
“Most people that I get coming out on my trips are people that have never shot a bow or haven’t shot one since camp in junior high. Everybody tends to love it,” Captain Wallick said. “I think the biggest reason why these people don’t like to hunt and fish is because it’s boring. It’s a lot of sitting and waiting and with this sport, it’s just non-stop action and non-stop shooting.”
Indeed, the video below reveals lots of action and laughing from people aboard the boat who can’t avoid the fish even if they’re not the ones with the bow in their hand.
“This is the only sport where tunnel vision is a good thing,” Captain Wallick said. When there are so many fish popping out of the water, he suggests just focusing in on one window instead of trying to hit any fish in every direction.
“It’s the least you can do to help reduce the population. It’s just getting worse every year. For me, every fish you can kill is a good day. It’s catching on, more and more people are enjoying the sport and wanting to go out and get their own bows.”