Registrations for the second annual U.S. Bowfishing Championship are on pace to make this event the largest bowfishing tournament ever. The May 2 – 4 event, which is being held at Table Rock and Bull Shoals lakes in the Ozarks, is capturing the skyrocketing interest in bowfishing. The event will feature big time cash and prizes, great entertainment and will benefit the environment, too.
“This successful Big-20 format bowfishing offers something for everyone — from the ultra-competitive tournament team to the casual bow fisherman shooting in their first tournament,” said John Paul Morris, RedHead® Pro Hunting Team member and general manager of Bass Pro Shops online store. “Interest in bowfishing is starting to explode. This year’s Bowfishing Championship is already bigger than last year’s with more than 700 anglers from 27 states registered.”
The tournament is a 100 percent payback event and also features great prizes such as a TRACKER 1860 Bowfishing Boat (an $18,000 retail value), new bows, a big fish package worth $5,000, and $10,000 in cash for the champs. Competitors will also vie for a state record jackpot. Anyone who takes a new state record longnose gar or common carp during tournament hours wins $10,000.
This year’s tournament will begin Saturday, May 3 at 7 p.m. and continue through Sunday, May 4 at 7 a.m. at Bass Pro Shops new Bass Pro Shops Outdoor Academy, 1901 S. Hwy 86, Ridgedale, Mo. A new aspect of this year’s event is including Bull Shoals Lake to the tournament venue along with Table Rock Lake. In addition, air boats will be excluded from the 2014 Bowfishing Championship.
“Bowfishing is a great way to get new archers excited about the outdoors as well as engaging those people who already love to hunt and fish,” said Bob Ziehmer, director of the Missouri Department of Conservation. “Plus, with participants coming from across the country, it’s a great way to showcase the beautiful lakes and rivers of the Missouri Ozarks.”
Bowfishing promotes better game fish populations
Bowfishing is not only fun, it’s good for lakes and reservoirs as well. Species harvested by bowfishing are often rough fish such as common carp, grass carp, buffalo and gar. Many of these species degrade water quality by stirring up mud. They also directly compete with spawning game fish by destroying their spawning beds. This is a huge problem in deep water lakes such as Table Rock because they already lack spawning areas.
Bowfishing is also a way to control populations of invasive species such as Asian carp. These non-natives pose a serious threat because they not only ruin fish habitat but could actually push some fish species to extinction.
“Bowfishing has a positive effect on sportfishing as it helps control species like carp which rely on the same spawning ground as popular game fish like bass and crappie,” said Brian Canaday, chief of fisheries for the Missouri Department of Conservation. “Last year, tournament bowfishers relieved Table Rock Lake of some 17,000 pounds of carp making for a healthier habitat for our game fish.”
All fish taken during the U.S. Open Bowfishing Championship will be put to good use as environmentally friendly fertilizer. Advances in technology have made it possible to liquefy fish into a safe, healthy fertilizer for use by organic farmers and home and garden purposes. SF Organics, a Division of Schafer Fisheries, uses hydrolysis to break the product down while maintaining the vitamins, enzymes, amino acids and minerals that create high-quality natural plant food.
“We love being able to get the kind of tonnage this bowfishing tournament will produce,” said Brian Kruse, assistant sales manager for SF Organics, a Division of Schafer Fisheries. “We’re able to pick up the fish in our refrigerated trucks the same day they’re caught so we can convert them into organic fertilizer.”
Tournament anglers help boost area economy
Bowfishing is also big business and provides a much needed economic boost to the local area. Last year’s event featured more than 127 boats and 500 anglers from 27 states. Most were accompanied by their families and friends. These anglers pump a lot of money into the local economy for food, gas, ice, lodging, gear and more.
“It’s not unusual for us to spend up to $500 a day to participate,” said Andy Cardwell of Kentucky who participated in last year’s event. “The boats take a lot of fuel, and we and our families go out to eat every night.”
Edward and Linda Alders, owners of the Happy Hollow Resort near Branson, were pleased with the extra business last spring.
“The tournament was held during a slow time of the year so the resorts, hotels, restaurants, and retail shops all benefitted from out-of-state dollars,” said Linda. “We were completely full that weekend and less than half participated in the event. Everyone got a kick out of talking with the fisherman about a sport most of them knew nothing about and enjoyed looking at all the crazy, innovative boats.”
In addition, Linda says they already have reservations from bow fishing anglers attending this year’s event.
Event features live music, merchandise booths, and kids’ activities
The action kicks off Saturday, May 3 beginning at 2 p.m. at the new Bass Pro Shops Outdoor Academy as anglers prepare to launch their boats. At 4 p.m. there will be live music and entertainment; booths featuring merchandise, activities and information; and lots of giveaways. There are also special activities for kids such as the practice bowfishing tank, inflatable BB gun range, and a casting competition. The King of Bucks mobile exhibit featuring 25 world-record whitetail mounts will also be on display. Plus, FREE hot dogs and sausages will be available beginning at 4 p.m., while supplies last.
Everyone is invited back for the weigh-in on Sunday, May 4, beginning at 7 a.m. at the Bass Pro Shops Outdoor Academy.
Tournament Supports a Great Cause
U. S. Open Bowfishing Championship will do more than help manage invasive species and boost local economies. Proceeds from the event will be donated to the James River Basin Partnership to fund a clean-up effort. The James River Basin Partnership is a grassroots, nonprofit, organization working to improve and protect the water quality of the springs, streams, rivers, and lakes in southwest Missouri’s James River Watershed.
For more information and rules and regulations, visit http://www.basspro.com/usopen. To pre-register for the event, visit http://www.Centralpro-am.com. Registration will also be available at the tournament site Friday, May 2, between 4pm-6pm. However; to be eligible to win the boat and bow, team captains must pre-register at least 72 hours prior to the event, and they must be present Sunday morning, May 4, at the fish weigh-in to win.
Sponsors of the 2014 U.S. Open Bowfishing Championship include Bass Pro Shops, Tracker Boats, Big Cedar Lodge, Under Armour, Oakley, GoPro, Realtree, BowfishingZone.com, NDesigns, Streamlight,Rigid Industries, Coca-Cola, American Airboats, Elite Boats, AMS Bowfishing, Muzzy Products, Cajun, PSE Archery, and Rinehart Targets.
Images courtesy Bass Pro Shops