Chicago Sun-Times
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Bowfishing bass OK: BAI prez

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Illinois bass fishermen had best pay attention Bowfishing Association of Illinois president Ed Devries sees no reason why bowfishing for bass should not be OK. I will try to get a stance from the IDNR today.

In a stunning comment to a STRAY CASTS (I had to read it again this morning to make sure I read it right) short yesterday, Devries had this in his extended remarks:

If I can harvest a bass by hook and line and legally keep my limit these fish will be removed from the waters. Why cant one take these fish with a bow using the same limit? It still results in a limit of fish harvested from the water either way. If I didnt bowfish and legally took my limit it would be OK, but I cant take the same legal limit using a bow. Same result, just different gear. So, why?

That comment is exactly why I think I think GASS founder Bill Meyer's push to limit bowfishing to non-native species is right on. I say that as somebody who has enjoyed bowfishing, and thinks it is a good sport for drawing in kids.

Just be aware if you oppose bowfishing for any species, you are liable to be labeled PETA related or anti-hunting. As witness this blast e-mail Devries sent this morning:

Hey Everyone;


Usually my emails to everyone have been about upcoming fun activities and shoots the Bowfishing Assoc of Illinois has, but unfortunately this time our email is of a more serious nature, the moves by a gar angling organization to have bowfishing for all native species banned.


The Bowfishing Association of Illinois was formed back in 2004 when then vice president of the carp anglers group made some very negative comments regarding bowfishing in the Chicago Tribune, then in In-Fisherman. After these comments strong moves were made by the Carp Anglers Group to ban bowfishing in several lakes across the country in order to "protect" carp they wish to release after catching. Officials of this group even boasted on their forums of releasing carp bought in bait stores into public lakes so they would have more carp to fish. They were investigated by the authorities for these comments as it was an illegal activity.


After these comments, bowfshermen decided it was time to organize so their voice could be heard. We have done much good promoting this great sport in Illinois and have spent countless hours at shows and dedicating our personal time teaching many how to bowfish. And we have done well. We have also strived to promote ethical bowfishing.


Unfortunately, another group, the Gar Anglers Sportsmans Society (GASS) is now urging Illinois DNR to stop bowfishing for all native species by having them declare ALL native species a sport fish and have them protected from bowfishing.


There is no need for protecting gar as their numbers are as strong now as ever and fisheries biologists have told me many times that bowfishing has no impact on gar or other native fish populations. Plus the DNR keeps track of fish populations and would surely impose limits on fish harvested by any means if their numbers were seen to decrease.


All this amounts to is a so called outdoor sporting group trying to stop another group from legally harvesting a species they think should ONLY be caught by hook and line. And that my friends is anti hunting. The same type of anti hunting PETA wants to impose on all outdoorsmen. In these days of attacks on the hunting/fishing sports, outdoor groups need to support one another, not attack for selfish reasons.


There are over 3000 people who get our emails and newsletters. We have met most of you at outdoor shows or outdoor bowfishing ranges where we tried to introduce many to bowfishing. Our club has always been free and we will continue to support all outdoor activities. We would ask that everyone here to PLEASE write to;

Steve Pallo
IDNR, Division of Fisheries
One Natural Resources Way

Springfield, Illinois 62702


And tell him that you support bowfishing, and oppose any moves by the Gar Anglers Sportsmans Society to have bowfishing for native species banned.


Make no mistake about it everyone, these are anti hunting/fishing actions taken by a selfish group who simply dont like the fact we can legally harvest gar by bow and arrow. We cant give the hard core anti groups any help, and those who do or support those who do should be ashamed and have no business in the general hunting/fishing community in my opinion. The BAI will be reporting all actions supporting anti bowfishing to the US Sportsmans Alliance and to the Illinois Federation of Outdoor Resourses and ask their help fighting these anti bowfishing agendas.


I will paste the letter GASS is sending to the DNR also. Please everyone, take a few minutes and write to Steve Pallo and help bowfishing, help the general outdoor sports.


Thank You;


Ed DeVries
Pres. Bowfishing Assoc. of Illinois


Letter From GASS To DNR;


Steve Pallo
IDNR, Division of Fisheries
One Natural Resources Way
Springfield, Illinois 62702

Dear Mr. Pallo,

The objective of the IDNR Division of Fisheries is clear.

The mission of the Illinois Division of Fisheries is to demonstrate leadership through education and scientifically-based management for the protection, restoration and enhancement of fisheries and other aquatic resources, and promotion of responsible utilization in Lake Michigan, Reservoirs, Impoundments, and Streams.

And yet, one of the practices of the Division undermines this mission. Throughout the official Fishing Regulations a distinction is made between port fish (such as bass, walleye, and crappie) and other species (including gar, bowfin, and suckers). There is absolutely no scientifically-based reason for such a distinction. There is no reason why gar should be allowed to be taken by bowfishing and not largemouth bass. Similarly, there is no reason why redhorse suckers are allowed to be snagged with no limit and not walleye.

There is a clearer, more scientifically-based division between fish species. In one group should be the native species including but not limited to bass, walleye, crappie, gar, bowfin, and suckers. The other group should be the non-native or invasive species including gobies, ruffe, and common, bighead, and silver carp. The native species should be regulated as sport fish are now and the non-native species should be allowed to be taken by bowfishing, snagging, or commercial methods.

We would like to encourage the Division of Fisheries to make this change to better demonstrate leadership through education and scientifically-based management for the protection, restoration and enhancement of fisheries and other aquatic resources, and promotion of responsible utilization in Lake Michigan, Reservoirs, Impoundments, and Streams.
Regards,

Bill Meyer
Gar AnglersSporting Society
http://www.garfishing.com

Chuck Meyer
Bowfin Anglers Group
http://www.bowfinanglers.com

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30 Comments

Ah yes, way to take that "stunning comment" and use it out of context Dale.

I believe, and correct me if I'm wrong, that this was a question, hence the "?".

"If I can harvest a bass by hook and line and legally keep my limit these fish will be removed from the waters. Why cant one take these fish with a bow using the same limit? It still results in a limit of fish harvested from the water either way. If I didnt bowfish and legally took my limit it would be OK, but I cant take the same legal limit using a bow. Same result, just different gear. So, why?"

But instead of answering the question, which would have presumably brought about a reply with a POINT to it, you chose to use the comment out of context as an attack, warning bass fishermen to "pay attention" or else the Big Bad BAI is going to come get them.

See, that's the difference between true sportsmen, like those in the BAI, and other organizations that try to "regulate" the activity of others for nothing more than their own selfish reasons. If there is as fear...no, let me rephrase that...If there is EVIDENCE that a certain activity is going to send a species into endangered status or destroy a population, then you'd better believe that TRUE SPORTSMEN and CONSERVATIONISTS like those at the BAI would actively try to change regulations to prevent that from happening. The same reason that we actively work to improve the environments that we hunt and fish in, spend our own time and money to gets kids into outdoor activities, clean up areas that need it, make and post signs stating fish dumping is illegal, inform the public about these types of issues,...I could go on and on.

HOWEVER, true sportsmen would never attempt to "regulate" the activity of others just because we didn't share the same passion as they did. What do you think the reaction would be if archery hunters tried to stop gun hunting? It's the same situation and it's wrong.

It was pulled out in the correct context, something that is easy to determine because the link to the entire entry and lists of comments is given. In some sense, the leap Ed made is a logical one. But if you make that leap then you actually have to enter into a discussion with bass fishermen, a group that cannot be smeared with the stain of being PETA people or anti-hunters. True sportsmen can actually hold different opinions.

Dale;
Your statement is about as silly, out of context as they come and is possibly libelous IMO.

In Stray Casts, in a post you directed at my comments, you stated;

"All you need to know about this discussion is if muskie, largemouth, walleye or smallmouth (species all doing well in Illinois) were ever opened to bowfishing or spearing or gigging, all hell would break loose."

THEN, I responded in QUESTION form to you;

"Why dont we bowfish for bass or other native fish? I dont know. You tell me. If I can harvest a bass by hook and line and legally keep my limit these fish will be removed from the waters. Why cant one take these fish with a bow using the same limit? It still results in a limit of fish harvested from the water either way. If I didnt bowfish and legally took my limit it would be OK, but I cant take the same legal limit using a bow. Same result, just different gear. So, why?"

A question to you Dale to see what YOU thought. Not a statement saying we want bowfishing opened for Bass. You are seemingly taking the position that gar should not be bowfished for and considered a sportfish, so again Im asking YOU, not saying we want any other species legalized for bowfishing as your silly comments and questions to the DNR say, but asking why YOU think bowfishing for any other species when the same amount can be killed by line fishing is wrong. Please dont take that out of context (again) we want to hear YOUR views. After the DNR gets the whole story behind this, Im sure you will deservedly loose credibility with them as Im sure you will with Illinois outdoorsmen for starting this smear campaign against me.

As far as labeling someone who wants to stop another outdoorsmens ability to harvest the game they can legally harvest for many years a anti, yes. I totally stand by the comment. Worse, they are hippocrates AND anti hunters. Harvest game my way or no way. Are we going to make field mice a game animal someday so we cant trap them? Who knows! Maybe some "fringe" hunting group will want the DNR to establish seasons for them, protect them from mass trappings. Ive talked with others in the Illinois media about the anti hunting and they have agree`d with me, its anti hunting.

Dale, I nor the BAI have no worries about any half truths, out of context comments or smear campaigns you start against us or bowfishing.
Rather than sit behind a desk and write about stuff, we promote bowfishing and the outdoor sports in general.

You have any idea how many hours BAI members as well as other bowfishing clubs across the state dedicate to outdoor programs? Personally, I have for the last 5 years sat in booths talking bowfishing at many outdoor shows, set up and run on the water shooting ranges at national hunting and fishing days AND helped set up and plan the event.

For the past 5 years we have set up an on the water bowfishing range at the US Sportsmans Alliance Trailblazer Program where inner city boyscouts are able to come out and try bowfishing as well as many other outdoor activities.

For the past 2 years we have sweated all day at the Tinley Park Outdoors show running a on water bowfishing range for everyone to enjoy, including members of BASS who shared the pool with us.

For the past 4 years we have set up an on the water bowfishing range at the Northern Illinois Conservation Club where many kids can enjoy bowfishing.

This year will be our second year seting up an on the water bowfishing 3D course at the NWTFs Women In The Outdoors event in Essex Illinois.

We have taken many of the media bowfishing including yourself (where we were rewarded by you saying "bowfishng may be barbaric" for no reason other than your apparent dislike for the sport)

We have a free club where we take many out to bowfish for the first time free of charge, getting more adults and kids into the outdoors.

So as you see, pretty much everyone knows us to be a good organization who help the outdoors. And you mount a misinformation smear campaign against us. Nice.

Ill get plenty of letters of support from other outdoor groups, media ect.... to counter any BS you publish about me Dale. Our actions speak WAY louder than your words. Im very dissapointed in you and the Chicago SunTimes for acting as an outdoor columnist while attacking a legal form of outdoor recreation and taking words out of context to start a smear campaign.


A dead bass is a dead bass, is it not? That was the point. Does the method make any difference to the population?

He never advocated taking bass with a bow, only asked a legitimate question. Why do we care how people take their limit of any given species?

Scientifically it cannot possibly make any difference can it?

Are gar, bowfin, suckers, shad, carp, ... in any danger of reduced fishing opportunities? Not a chance. That is the only relevent question.

So intellectually and scientifically, why would we not allow unrestricted taking however you like and if at some point or at specific locations there is a problem, then we make appropriate restrictions to maximize the recreational opportunity for as many people as possible.

Some species that is anything goes and others it is catch and release only and even in some cases it means no fishing at all.

Otherwise why can't it simply be live and let live?

Dale, thank you for promoting the protection of our native fish. This debate comes down to the value of a fish.

I think native fish are to valuable to be used as target practice. If geese, turkeys or deer were treated in that manner their would be outrage. But, older slower growing fish get not protection.

Everyone must agree that their is a finite number of fish and an increasing number of fishermen/ bow fishermen. And that some restrictions (daily limits or limited species) should not adversely impact bow fishers ability to pursue or enjoy their sport.

If bow fishermen want to demonstrate what good stewards of the environment they are, then they will be the FIRST ones to propose a limit on the taking of native fish. A sportsman wouldn't go and kill every deer or duck they saw? Right? In fact, I bet most sportsmen would say that even if they legally COULD shoot 100 ducks that the very idea seems antithetical to their values of being stewards of the environment.

If the BAI does not propose limits on taking native fish I would love to know why. Surly they must realize that the unrestricted taking of any animal is not stewardship. Bowfishers should be contentious of what message they send by opposing limits or restrictions. It is hard to claim that you should be allowed to kill an unlimited number of wild native animals (to "use" as fertilizer if at all) and not look like a blood crazed lunatic. I would hate to see their actions reflect poorly on real sportsmen.

as president of the BAI will answer this comment and then will be done with this blog.

The BAI has no business imposing limits to bowfishing or to line fishing. We are not the people who do that, the DNR is. They are the experts in resource management. When they feel that a limit is needed due to population reduction or for whatever reason, I and all bowfishermen will welcome the regulation.

Target practice? What are you talking about and what right do you have to say our ethical minded bowfishermen use gar for target practice?? If you look at our web site you will see a detailed section on how to clean the meat from a gar. You will also see many recipes. If you would like to stop over and look in my freezer you will find several packets of gar meat and stingray meat from recent bowfishing trips. I and all other bow find your comment that we only use the species we harvest for target practice extremely offensive. We are outdoorsmen as you are not blood crazed lunatics.

How bout hook and line fishermen show what stewards of the land they are. Stop leaving miles of mono line in the waters to trap birds and foul trolling motors. Stop leaving your trash all over the shore after fishing, bait and corn containers, beer and soda bottles, crappy baby diapers. Stop gut hooking and killing fish with small hooks.

A year ago my wife and I were out at silver springs setting up a tent for hunting and fishing days. We saw 2 european gentlemen fishing with all the carp angling gear in the lake, rod holders line out beepers the whole euro carp thing. Well they leave. My wife and I walk by their spot and find a buch of coffee cups and about 30 cigarette butts on the ground. Guess we need to stop shore fishing to protect the waters and land from all the bank anglers huh?

Native fish are as valuable to us as any other fisherman. We utilize them. I guess not all do but in the same line of thinking do all fishermen leave trash all over the shore? Throw gar on the bank?

Please.....your comments are devisive to outdoorsmen and are truely offensive to all who fish or hunt.

And BY THE WAY!!

If you want to see some "Blood Crazed Lunatics " in action, check out this BRAND NEW Illinois Outdoors TV show . SEE the blood fly!! Don is a heck of a guy and a real outdoorsman. This is what bowfishing is about, having fun and seeing a young lady have fun harvesting her first fish. This is what the outdoors should be about, having fun and getting more people involved. NOT being a devisive anti hunter or one who supports them. Now...Im done w. Mr Bowmans blog....

http://www.myoutdoortv.com/video/video.php?v=NKGuYLKdK5LMJT13LbmP7zbsaPod1N27

I'm appalled that this discussion has degraded into something as divisive as it has. We are all "conservationists" in the true sense of the word, whether our tools employ fishing line, a bow, a gun or a trap.

The energy that has gone into this discussion could be channeled into doing something to further our common goals in this regard.
The BAI takes kids out and introduces them to the outdoors. That in itself is a huge step in educating the next generation of conservationists.

What baffles me is the whole mindset of this conversation, however.

Ed- you made the statements that you made as the President of your organization, and sent an email blast that made those thoughts even more clearly.
This was not a private conversation between you and Dale.
The "question" was posed to the entire world on the internet. Were you truly prepared to defend your statements when you decided to let them fly?

I'm not debating the content whatsoever.
Only the fact that you posed a question to potentially thousands of people with the means of answering it.

Man up, my friend.
You posted it, and lots of people are deciding how they'd like to answer it.
Be prepared for an influx of supporters and detractors alike. That's how the business works.
You can face up to the responses or leave in principle, but the question has still been asked.

As for the question of "divisiveness"-
Every usergroup utilizing the outdoors for their own pleasure has a subset of unethical and/or illegal participants.
To use another group as a tool in this or any other argument is childish and unprofessional.
Talk about "divisive".
When the resource suffers as a result of factional ideology, then we really need to start worrying.
When we alienate others with a stake in the outdoors, that's the first step towards a complete breakdown in the whole process of its preservation.

If you are going to make comparisons between anglers and your passion in the outdoors in a negative light, then you will need to be prepared for the backlash that comes with it.
I'm extremely disappointed to see another usergroup resort to that tactic, and feel that you should be ashamed of yourself for stepping outside the box in such a manner, Mr. Devries.


What a grave mistake this gentleman is going to learn from.

First you said this:

"There is no need for protecting gar as their numbers are as strong now as ever and fisheries biologists have told me many times that bowfishing has no impact on gar or other native fish populations."

"And tell him that you support bowfishing, and oppose any moves by the Gar Anglers Sportsmans Society to have bowfishing for native species banned."

Then this:
"The BAI has no business imposing limits to bowfishing or to line fishing. We are not the people who do that, the DNR is. They are the experts in resource management. When they feel that a limit is needed due to population reduction or for whatever reason, I and all bowfishermen will welcome the regulation."

I am glad to hear that you will support regulation to protect native species. May I forward that message off to the DNR?

Mr. DeVries,

I am afraid that my comments were not read carefully. True, I did paint bow fishermen with a broad brush. This was based not on freezers full of gar but instead seeing 55 gallon drums on bowfishing boats. I am glad that you utilize the fish you shoot. What percent of the fish you shoot make it to the freezer? What percent of total bow-shot fish do you think make it to the plate? Do you think it is fair to say that most bow anglers do not eat the buffalo and suckers that they arrow? How about the carpsuckers?

What really surprises me is when I ask bowfishermen what they are getting and they can't tell me if they are shooting bigmouth buffalo or smallmouth buffalo. Redhorse or carp. When I see two 55 gallon drums on a boat and archers who can't identify their target I get the distinct impression they are shooting as many fish as they can with no plans to eat them.

Is it ever ethical to shoot at a target that you can not identify? Is it ever ethical to kill more than you can use? If I remember correctly from my hunter safety course the answer to both of these questions is "NO". If that is true, how many "ethically minded" bowfishermen are members of the BAI?

Despite this I did not say that a single bowfishermen WAS a blood crazed lunatic instead I gave you this choice:
A. Support regulation of your sport and become protectors of your native fish.
B. Support unlimitd harvest of native fish and appear to be using them for target practice.

Please forgive me as well for not expressing my ire with anglers who commit all the sins you list and more. To be fair anglers are responsible for more litter and careless behavior.

But, also to be fair - anglers are much more likely to practice catch and release.

And lastly, "Please.....your comments are devisive to outdoorsmen and are truely offensive to all who fish or hunt"
They are not offensive to me and I both fish and hunt.

I would have no problem with bowfishing if the bowfishers used the animals they killed for food, and if they could identify the animals they killed before they killed them.

In every sport, there are responsibilities. When I go duck hunting, I am required by law to be able to distinguish between a hen hooded merganser and a hen wood duck at 40 yards, while flying. If I can't tell which it is, I must hold my fire. And if I shoot something, I must eat it, or face the wanton waste laws.

I have never met a bowfisher who could tell an endangered black buffalo from a smallmouth buffalo. Actually, I have never met a bowfisher who knew the difference between carp (an invasive exotic species) and buffalo (a beneficial native species). In no other sport is this level of ignorance of the quarry being killed tolerated.

As far as use of the animals killed, most bowfishers claim to be "burying them in the garden" or "giving them to a farmer. But 99% of the animals shot wind up in the garbage. And we're talking about locally-produced, delicious fish protein that I, and my family, make good use of every year. To see the bowfishers wasting good meat, and killing animals for the sheer thrill of it, makes no sense under the laws of good sportsmanship or the laws of conservation.

Anyone who kills hundreds of beneficial native, 100% pure American animals only to throw them into garbage is not a sportsman. They are a black stain on those of us who seek to portray consumptive users of wildlife as the very best conservationists and stewards of our wildlife resources. It is a practice that - outside of the eradication of invasive exotic species - has no place in an ethical sportsman's life.

There are number of different points.

Do all of the deer get eaten? I know a lot of people that shoot a lot of animals that end up getting wasted because it sits in the freezer until it is freezer burned then gets tossed when they clean out the freezer. How common is this? More than it should be.

There is a distinction between unethical and illegal. Illegal should be determined purely based on impact on the species and impact on other people's recreational opportunity. Why is archery season so long and gun season so short? There are trade offs that need to be made. However, there are no tradeoffs that are occurring on any of the fish that are legal to bowfish. There are huge numbers of these fish and tiny numbers of us bowfisherman.

I don't like people taking fish by the barrels for any species that is not harmful to the ecosystem. I do not do it. I am very selective. However, even those that are doing things that I do not agree with are not harming the fisheries. There are just huge numbers of carp, gar, suckers, ... Maybe we need to take the rod and reel fisherman out to show them where they are.

We are required to identify the fish we shoot. Just like the ducks, we can't take illegal fish. I was out the other week and there were a bunch of channel catfish and drum, before they were made legal, as well as quillback suckers, common carp, and smallmouth buffalo. I had to be very careful. This is rare to see fish that are not legal, but we are still required to ID them.

You must admit that unfortunately there are duck hunters that don't ID there target including a swan getting shot in southern illinois. That is wrong and makes us all look horribly bad. That idiot made us all look bad. So does anybody shooting illegal fish with a bow.

However, the number of fish killed accidently by rod and reel fisherman is huge. Simply by the shear numbers. Should we require circle hooks and other measures to stop this? Only if it makes a difference to the population. My parents require circle hooks with live bait in their pond and now have huge bluegills and much larger bass. I think it is unethical to fish bait without circle hooks for species that you know will have a high incidence of getting hooked deeply. Should we make that illegal?

How about bass tournaments? The bass would have a much higher survival rate if it didn't spend all day in the live well. Is it unethical to not release them immediately? Bass are being killed purely for recreational reasons.

There are all kinds of things that other people do that we do not like. Unless it hurts the population or significanly reduces other people's recreational activity, it should not be outlawed. Just because you think it is unethical does not mean it should be illegal. I am a firm believer in live and let live, although that doesn't mean you don't tell somebody that what they are doing is wasteful, but try to outlaw it. No way.

And there is no ethical distinction between native and nonnative. Our entire salmon fishery is non native and they keep releasing more every year and I hope they continue to do so, even if we can't bowfish for them (that is a joke and I am not proposing bowfish for salmon, just so I'm not misinterpretted, purposefully).

"Just be aware if you oppose bowfishing for any species, you are liable to be labeled PETA related or anti-hunting."

Hey Bowman, that reminds me of a so-called outdoor writer, calling those who opposes his view of the NRA and second amendment rights a "gun-nut"!

Must be nice to have a bully pulpit to smear true sportsmen with.

Ed,

I think we have a lot of common ground here. We both agree that ethical sportsman will take a reasonable number of legal species and identify their target before firing.

I think the difference of opinion arises from two points:
1. How much impact bowfishing has.
2. The ethics that most bowfishers employ.

1. Impact - I spend a more time than average in a shocking boat and have a very good idea how how many fish can inhabit a small area. But, I also know what kind of damage can be done with unlimited harvest. I see no reason why a modest limit on the taking of these fish is such a contentious issue. If it makes you feel better I think they need protection from anglers, snaggers and archers alike. The reason bowfishers are taking the brunt of this debate may be item #2.

2. As previously discussed neither of us like seeing 55 gallon drums on a bowfishing boat. I always ask myself why someone might need 55 gallons of dead fish. And even though anglers may kill many fish with poor handling they don't go out with the purpose of making compost heaps.

Comments like this one by herpin1579 demonstrate my point, "Totals for the night were 40-45 gar, a dozen carp and buffs, and the grassie."

http://www.chicagolandfishing.com/forums/viewtopic.php?t=69247

40 to 45 gar? Seriously? This can be posted to a bowfishing forum and not one person suggests that 40 gar might be more than you need to shoot in one night.

The second part of the ethics discussion was identification and selection. I am glad to know that you are a selective archer who identifies illegal and legal fish before firing. You would also know that it is illegal to take by any method threatened or endangered species. So, I am sure that you can name one species of gar and three species of sucker than you can not harvest at any time. Furthermore, I am sure that as an ethical sportsman you can identify these fish at a distance and are sure of your target before firing.


All I ever wanted was to to place a limit on the taking of native fish. Carp (and salmon) would be fair game. I really think we can reach a compromise where native fish huggers and bowfishermen can see eye to eye. I would gladly open all waters to the unlimited bowfishing of exotic species if I knew that suckers, gar, buffalo and bowfin would be carefully managed.


"All I ever wanted was to to place a limit on the taking of native fish. Carp (and salmon) would be fair game. "

Salmon can be taken by bowfishing?? WOW! Talk about a sensational comment! TW, would you care to ID yourself, put out a name so Salmon Unlimited can see who it is that wants bowfishing made legal for salmon? Trout too I guess as they are not native to lake mich.? Smallmouth bass were introduced there too, so let the arrows fly? How about all the bass, stripers and catfish in the cooling lakes. They were never native there now were they? i guess wherever a fish was not native and stocked that would be ok to bowfish for them using your guys logic.

Heck, after thinking about this whole move to make only non-native fish legal, the title of this blog entry should be,

BOWFISHING BASS, TROUT, STRIPERS, SALMON OK-per OUTDOOR WRITER DALE BOWMAN AND GASS!

Really! That is what you guys are saying.
As I read all the comments from the DNr, its not the species or its classification as a sport or rough fish that sets limits and says what fish can be taken by what means. Its how healthy the fish species population is.

so tw....you go on many shocking boats. your a dnr biologistthen? i think if your going to make these statements you really need to identify yourself. i looked at your psstedlink and dont see anything about45gar but 15??

Nice work. That quote was copy and pasted from the bowfishing forum. The fact that the original comment was edited just proves that bowfishers should be embarrassed by their behavior. Why else change the quote?

Does anyone really think that I would falsify a quote and then post a link to the forum? You insult the intelligence of every reader of this forum while confirming your own cowardice.

"Our entire salmon fishery is non native and they keep releasing more every year and I hope they continue to do so, even if we can't bowfish for them (that is a joke and I am not proposing bowfish for salmon, just so I'm not misinterpretted, purposefully)."

Also, thank you for missing my humorous reply to this humorous comment. I guess I should have added a disclaimer too, but I hoped this discussion would become more congenial.

Lastly, I have no official standing with the Illinois DNR. Until this conversation becomes somewhat friendly I see no reason to identify myself.

Anonymous, I am pretty sure you are sharp enough to know that is a red herring. The debate is not about the health of fish species in Illinois. Virtually all inland species are in good shape.

The foremost question is where the IDNR draws the line for the protections and courtesies given to ``sport fish.'' Gov. Quinn and IDNR director Marc Miller have made a show of wanting to be science-based in their decisions. The logical line would be native/non-native. That's the line Bill Meyer asked to be drawn, and for that he was branded an anti-hunter by a leading bowfishers. And that is simply a bizarre charge to be polite.

TW,

I personally know the guy you referred to and he has even fished on my boat. We generally all know each other on that site. So publically berating someone you personally know is not something I think that you do very often. That is the reason you did not get the response you suggested was appropriate.

As far as identifying which species to shoot, if I can't ID them. I don't shoot them. Same thing as duck hunting. Can I identify endangered species? No. However, that doesn't mean I shoot them and figure it out. BTW, if you posted up on that website a list of species that might be mistakenly taken and photos that would be a great help. I am active on a duck hunting website as well and when someone posts up on either one. I shot this what is it. It drives me nuts. You could definitely help us reduce this what is it, I already shot it.

However, you must admit if it is endangered, it happens rarely because by definition the fish is rare. And I'd bet dollars to donuts that the rod and reel fisherman are killing more of them than bowfisherman, but again it is going to be very rare and not the reason they are endangered or hindering their recovery.

Also, catfish have no limits. There are a lot of native species that have no limits. I just don't want to start making laws based on the fact that we don't like what people are doing. Sportsman are our own worst enemy. The solution is to educate, or even shame, the people into behaving properly and not try to legislate it.

Everybody know that sportsmen go through stages. When they are young they are out for numbers and they prove their prowess by numbers. Then they evolve along different paths of quality (trophy buck), harder techniques (fly fishing), and eventually just being glad to watch the animals. My guess is that you and I are probably of more or less similar age and well past the numbers phase. Bowfishing is very appealing to people still in the phase where they are excited by numbers. That does not reflect well on the sport. The only difference is it is much more visible and the numbers can be much, much larger. Laws will not change that. However, the steady action and large numbers are great for getting kids permanently into a life of outdoor activities.

What should the limits be based on? If it is science, then most places there simply is no basis for a limit. As I have said, site specific regulations are different, which is why we are not permitted to fish, nor should we be permitted to fish, in any of the heavily pressured chicagoland park lakes.

Gar are delicious. I cleaned 14 of them in one day last year. I could have shot over a hundred, but 14 kept my wife and I in gar fillets for the rest of the summer. Besides, I am too lazy to clean any more than that. Otherwise, I would have put a lot more in the freezer. So did he clean them or not? I don't know, but the solution was to post up and say "come on, did your really need to do that" and not to sick the cops on him.

I agree with your objectives in general. It's just a difference in approach. I don't like arbitrary laws based on personal preferences or trying to make somebody behave better. How would you respond to a friend doing these things? Do that when you see it and don't try to criminalize it. That's really all I am saying.

If you start basing laws on preference, once most people prefer that we don't hunt at all, then what?

"I have never met a bowfisher who could tell an endangered black buffalo from a smallmouth buffalo. Actually, I have never met a bowfisher who knew the difference between carp (an invasive exotic species) and buffalo (a beneficial native species). In no other sport is this level of ignorance of the quarry being killed tolerated."

Corey, you must have not met very many bowfisherman then. I do not understand how you can make these accusations. What do you base them off? The black buffalo is not an endangered species. In fact the only two states I could even find them listed as threatened or a species of special concern were wisconsin and michigan.

"As far as use of the animals killed, most bowfishers claim to be "burying them in the garden" or "giving them to a farmer. But 99% of the animals shot wind up in the garbage."

Yet another unbelievable accusation. I know for a fact that most of out members fillet and eat any fish they shoot. Gar has become one of my favorite fishes to eat. I have yet to master the art of cleaning carp and buffalo but any left over parts of the fish get put to good use. My garden has never looked better.

Fish shot at our tournaments gets donated to locals, corn/soybean farmers, crayfish farmers, and fertilizer manufacturers.

Why dont you go to tribs off the kankakee and illinois river during the spring gar spawn and see how many gar rod and real fisherman stomp and throw on shore because they believe that gar destroy gamefish populations(which I do no support in any way and have not found any research to back up this thought). Wilmington gets an unbelievable stench come may when hundreds of gar are stomped and left to rot.

The fact of the matter is the DNR will set limits, whether it be bow/arrow or rod/reel, if they feel there is any threat to the population. You are in no position to put limits on bowfishing native species simply because they are native. It is not right for anti or PETA members to attack bowfisherman just because they have a personal stance against it.

Dale;
I am going to venture into your blog one more time to answer your last comment. You dont seem to understand what the DNR is saying, or you dont want to understand it because it dont go along with what you would like them to say. Again, they answered your question regarding sportfish and why some fish can be bowfished and why some cant be. It has to do with the fishery, not the fish and what "class" of fish it belongs to. Again, I will paste from the DNR cheifs response to you.....

"The IDNR believes that bowfishing for sportfish should not be allowed. We encourage catch and release in most instances to protect the resource. This management technique, although appropriate in some instances, could not be sustained with other demands on the fishery."

"This management technique, although appropriate in some instances, could not be sustained with other demands on the fishery."

They are saying, if you still dont understand, that the fishery could not with stand the additional pressure on it brought by bowfishing and the species may decline. Again, nothing to do with the species, but with the species population, its reproduction rate and any decline in the fish. Bass, walleye ect...cant take the additional pressure. Real game fish have loads of angling pressure. Gar have little angling pressure, little bowfishing pressure and no commercial pressure.

From the Audubon field guide to north american fish....
"All gar are extremely hardy with thick hard interlocking ganoid scales that protect them from most predators." The top of all gar fry mouths have an adhesive flat they use to attach themselves to plants, hiding them from predators until they become large enough to allow their scales to protect them.
Very few people target them when line fishing. Bowfishing has no impact at all on them. Its roe is poisonous , nothing eats it! No commercial value.

Now that is the facts. Real gamefish have commercial value, many thousands of anglers target them, they have no special protection to stop predation on their fry or eggs.

All species are not in the same shape fishery wise dale. I can show you many areas in a short section of river over run with gar, but very few bass.

So you see, this is the reason, not because its called a sportfish. BUT, Im sure that those who just want bowfishing stopped due to its barbarism will ignore this perfectly sound explanation from the DNR until one they like better comes out.

BTW....you wanted at one time to go gigging for bullfrogs. You know, they ARE native also. Lots of guys like to catch them using suspended flies from a cane pole or flyrod. When these fly froggers start a club and declare them sport amphibians will you once again join the native species band wagon and support this??

One more Time Dale, I asked YOU why YOU think bowfishing for gamefish should be illegal. You made your sensational headline, but never answered the question....why? Is it because you believe bowfishing barbaric? Uncivilized? Something that one from a scholarly backround just wouldnt consider? Why do you think it should be illegal?


BTW TW, I am a moderator on the site you pasted from, and if anyone including me changes a post it will read "edited on 8/24/09 by ....whoever edited it. Look thru the posts and you will see that, so I dont know what you are up to.

I find it funny that some of you can really say you are not anti hunters. You use the same words and tactics.
lets compare some of the statements by cory regarding bowfishing to say ...the anti hunters info page
http://www.webspawner.com/users/antihuntersinfo/

from the anti info page.....
"Waterfowl killers are notoriously wasteful. The October 2005 issue of Field & Stream highlighted the documented fact that ducks and geese are excessively wounded and crippled by waterfowl hunters. Even some hunters admit to the wastefulness of duck hunting, but their concern has little or no effect on waterfowl killers who are driven by their need to kill innocent birds."

From Corey....
"As far as use of the animals killed, most bowfishers claim to be "burying them in the garden" or "giving them to a farmer. But 99% of the animals shot wind up in the garbage. And we're talking about locally-produced, delicious fish protein that I, and my family, make good use of every year. To see the bowfishers wasting good meat, and killing animals for the sheer thrill of it, makes no sense under the laws of good sportsmanship or the laws of conservation."

I dont see much difference there. Sounds like a bunch of antihunting to me

Ed H,
I like you. I think we would get along great in real life. For your information I am about to turn 26 (but I feel like 90...)

Secondly, I agree with you about education and responsibility. Thank you for not shooting 100 gar. I appreciate that you shoot what you can eat and carp.

My concern is that the public has few places to find info on these "fringe" species. Until the DNR begins to manage them I think that will continue. As I said before, I am not suggesting that bow fishing for native fish be stopped completely but maybe putting a daily limit in place for all fishermen would encourage education and responsible use of the resource.

DeVries,

Your grasp on fisheries ecology is tenuous at best. By your example we should be over run with muskies because their really big teeth make it easy for them to kill food.

Also, I stand by my earlier comment about editing. If you are a moderator on that forum it makes it all the more plausible that the offending numbers and the edited tag were removed.

TW,

They ARE managing them. There are simply so many of them that at this point in time, it doesn't have any impact. I generally bowfish in the spots that get the heaviest bowfishing pressure in the area and there are still huge numbers of fish after years and years of "unmanaged" fishing.

What should they base the limits on? Some made up feel good number. How about 100? How about 50? Why don't they set limits on catfish in most places? For the same reason. It's not that they are not managing them, but that at this point in time, it makes no difference, so if you want to catch a 100 catfish, have a ball.

You can't say that science is the reason for the limits. Bad behavior is not a reason either. It's purely personal preference and that is no basis for making laws. We already have too many stupid laws that do not do anything that their proponents claim they will. Limits on gar or any of the other native species will not make the gar population healthier. How are those gun control laws working in Chicago? I have a philosophical problem with arbitrary laws and these limits would be arbitrary.

There already are sight specific regulations that limit bowfishing. Nobody is opposed to this reasonable approach.

For those of you who missed it, the letter to the Chicago Tribune and In-Fisherman that prompted the formation of BAI is reprinted below.

The story by Lew Freedman on archers killing carp ("It's a delight for bowfishermen," Sports, June 22) seems to promote a number of concepts that are foreign to sportsmen and to those concerned about the welfare of our wildlife.

Spawning carp are densely congregated in shallow water and pretty much oblivious to everything except spawning. It does not take any skill to approach the fish--they are not wary in the least--and it doesn't take any skill to hit them.

If these people can kill two, three or even four fish with one shot, skill is clearly not a factor.

This situation may well be that which defines the phrase "shooting fish in a barrel." This cannot be considered "sporting" by any definition of the word.

The bow hunters claim it is an effort to eradicate the carp and make the waters better for "more popular game fish." As a means of population control, shooting carp is a joke. They target the large fish (easier to hit) and for every 30-pound fish they kill, six 5- pound fish will be around next year to take its place. Carp eradication programs of this nature have never been effective and, in fact, will have an effect opposite of that intended.

Furthermore, there is no evidence that removing carp will make room for other species. Carp are quite capable of co-existing in harmony with other species, even the invasive species like trout and salmon. Carp are the most popular sport fish in the world and it would make much more economic and ecologic sense to promote catch- and-release-carp angling than bow hunting.

Finally, they claim to be raising money for an outdoor camp for kids. I do not think it is wise to teach the next generation of outdoorsmen that indiscriminate killing of wildlife is the proper behavior for a sportsman.

American anglers are coming to realize that carp are a great sport fish and the number of hardcore, serious carp anglers is growing rapidly. Trophy-size fish of most species are exceedingly rare and most anglers, even the most dedicated, have little chance of catching one. Trophy carp, on the other hand, are well within reach. Most anglers in North America probably live within an hour's drive of 20- or 30-pound fish.

Chicagoans are particularly blessed; Lake Michigan and the Chicago River are prime waters containing good numbers of very large carp. This is a resource that should be treasured and preserved.

Hey Paul!
Well, thanks for posting that and again, thanks for making the spark that got several bowfishing clubs going in illinois and many many many more bowfishers on the water. Hope you are having an enjoyable fishing season this year.

OK.....back to the reason the DNR has different classifications for fish. It seems that Dales answer and everyones answer has been provided by Mr Steve Pallo, chief of the DNR fisheries. Funny Corey or TW didnt post these answers as I found it on your site?? Anyway, here it is for those who have not seen it, and like I said, keep asking the question I guess until an answer you like comes out. Guess they didnt like this one lol!!!

Thank you for your recent letter expressing your concerns regarding the distinctions in our fishing regulation booklet toward "sport fish" and "other species" and your perceived notion that this undermines our mission.

The intent of these distinctions is in no way meant to malign "other species" as these are just semantic descriptions in the context of explaining the regulations. For example, some literature references gar, bowfin, and sturgeon as ancient fishes. The wording used to describe groups of fish species essentially reflects on how we as an agency manage our fisheries resources, and furthermore is in no way counter to our mission. The fact of the matter is we manage the resource to provide sustainable quality fishing opportunities based on angler demand for those species, and regulations are an important management tool to achieve that goal. Therefore, your assertion that there is no reason gar should be allowed to be taken by bowfishing and not largemouth bass is unfounded from a biological and management perspective as there is little angler demand for gar, whereas there is significant demand for largemouth bass, thus the need to regulate the taking of largemouth bass if we are to sustain quality bass fishing opportunities.

Illinois Sport Fish Survey results indicate that angler demand in terms of percent angling days by species are as follows: Black Bass 29.0%, Catfish 17.3%, Crappie 15.5%, Sunfish 11.4%, Walleye/Sauger 7.6%, White/Yellow/Striped Bass 4.1%, Trout 3.6%, Pike/Muskie 2.8%, Salmon 2.8%, Carp 2.2%, Bullheads 1.6%, Yellow Perch 1.6%, and other species (including turtles and frogs) 0.9%.

I should also point out that far from ignoring gar we are currently developing a recovery plan for Alligator Gar, which is currently classified as a threatened species.

I trust this clarifies the rationale for the distinctions made in our Fishing Regulation Booklet.

Sincerely,

Steve Pallo, Chief
Division of Fisheries
Illinois Department of Natural Resources
One Natural Resources Way
Springfield, Illinois 62702

Dale;
I sent a entry like this one yesterday but for some reason it didnt make the blog. Maybe I entered it wrong.
Regardless, you seem to be upset with me for labeling your friend an anti due to his efforts to ban bowfishing for native fish. Something I still personally believe he is.
But I also like to back up my views. The letter and reasoning for his letter to the DNR are clear enough, he wants bowfishing for native fish banned w/o any reason other than he just dont like it. But there is much more to it. Bowfishing has been attacked for many years now by two groups you seem to support . the carp anglers and gar anglers. We have endured many such "letters" to the DNR as well as true anti statements about us. Im going to paste some thoughts from gar anglers from their forums you posted lnks to. I would be ashamed to support these guys and their anti views Dale. This will be my final comment in your blog and I would ask all BAI members to stop adding to mr bowmans blog also as the people you are debating could really care less for our views and have an agenda.

Lets start with the site admins glossary. That would be Corey who has added to this discussion. He includes bowfishing in it and states.....
"Bowfishing: A so-called sport where people shoot fish for no good reason and throw them in the garbage. "
http://www.roughfish.com/content/view/137/25/

Now is that the way a leader of a outdoor activity should act toward a popular outdoor sport? Painting the whole group as people who simply kill fish and toss them in the trash, on his public forum? My friends, you can find comments similar to that in the p*ta site about all our sports. Is it OK for one group to attack another but not OK for p*ta to attack us all?
Corey....what happened to all the meet in the middle talk?

Im sure every hunter has at one time heard anti hunters talk about hunting being a way to pump up themselves as a man due to the fact that they have a small,....manhood shall I say Well, these guys use the same verbal attacks on bowfishermen.....

Dr. Flathead (User)
The Good Doctor
Posts: 652

Re:Night Bowfishing Open for Comment 4 Months, 2 Weeks ago
If its considered a roughfish, then kill it and do the world a favor. Then crack a beer and give your red-necked buddies a drunken high five. God, I hate this topic. Open season on bow-fishermen, now I would pay generously for a license for this....
This is not a sport at all. Its just a way for certain folk to think they are cool and that their tiny flacid penis may start to grow with every dead aarow shot trophy."

Nice huh??

Now, how do they propose to stop bowfishing? One way is to turn public opinion against it greatly, especially from other outdoor groups. Here they actually hope a musky is found shot so their "anti bowfishing" movement could become a firestorm. BUT, it dont end there, next one of them suggests someone actually catching one, putting an arrow thru it, take a picture and circulate it to anger fishermen and help them stop bowfishing....

Cast_and_Blast (User)
Northern Pike
Posts: 409
Re:100-year old sturgeon shot by bowfishers 3 Weeks, 3 Days ago
I think either way you look at it, it helps our cause and gives bowfishing a black eye. Things like this could help shut down bowfishing on Winnebago.
Like I said before, all it may take is a 45" musky to be stuck with an arrow and you might have a firestorm of anti-bowfishing lobby.
Wether that sturgeon was shot by mistake or not, it looks bad on bowfishing.

Cast_and_Blast (User)
Northern Pike
Posts: 409
Re:Night Bowfishing Open for Comment 3 Months ago
All you need to do is the next time you catch a walleye or bass legally that you want to keep, throw it up on your lawn, shoot an arrow through it, take a picture and send it annonymously into the local newspaper and DNR office. Better yet, harvest a legal musky and do that and send it in to the Muskie Inc. Chapters. You would have some really pissed off people to help us shut it down. Nothing illegal has to be done to do this.


There are tons of comments like these on that forum.
Like bowfishing or not, ALL outdoorsmen have to shun these guys as they are truly helping anti hunters everywhere!

As far as the Bowfishing Assoc of Illinois goes, I think anyone outside the sport who follows us in Midwest Outdoors and on the forums has to agree the BAI has always promoted ethical bowfishing, urging bowfishermen to utilize their native fish harvest and properly dispose of any excess overpopulated of invasive fish they harvest. We have put forth a letter against illegal fish dumping years ago and have recently spent money out of our pockets on signs asking bowfishermen and line fishermen to not dump fish in areas where there has been a problem. We continue to promote bowfishing and introduce many people, young and old to the outdoors thru many hours of our personal time at outdoor shows and shooting ranges. We have continued to urge members and bowfishermen in general to utilize their harvest, ESPECIALLY the native fish such as gar by including detailed filleting instructions so bowfishermen can get the tasty meat from a gar and many recipes on our website.
http://www.illinoisbowfishing.net/CleaningGar.html
http://www.illinoisbowfishing.net/Recipes.html

What you have never seen in our forums is us attacking another outdoor group or sport. Some of us think every carp should be killed when line caught as they as such a detriment to the waters. But we will not say one negative thing about an outdoorsman if he wishes to release them. We support other outdoorsmen in all aspects. That is the way we as a whole outdoor community need to act. Have to act if the anti hunters are not to shut all our interests down.

But one thing you WILL see is us defending our sport from the lies and smear campaigns these anti bowfishermen continue to pursue as hard as we can, and call it like it is....anti hunting.

BTW....I have already begun to send these posts to the various Musky, Walleye, BASS, organizations, NWTF, US Sportsmans Alliance, IFOR, Riverside and all other local fishing clubs and as many more as I can find along with the several hundred other anti comments PLUS their letter writing campaigns to the DNR so they all know what up with these radical anti hunters. Just in case a musky pic with an arrow in it starts to circulate....

Bow"fishing". Quite the oxyomoron. Just another way for people to waste fish.

WOW I never thought I would read such ignorance on the part of sportsman. Thank you all for supporting anti hunting and fishing groups. The bottom line is if we don't get along and have controled discussions about our sports then the anti whatever wins. Look at Bear hunting and the use of hounds as an example. Do some reasearch before you open your mouths. I am a bow fisherman as are my children and thanks to bowfishing we do know the differance between the species of fish and we do pass on fish that we cannot identify. No i don't eat all of the fish that I shoot but then again I am not allowed to take the more desirable eating fish either. I bet if you talked to a hundred line fisherman they would not even think of eating a gar or carp. We bowfisherman do. So give us some credit Bow fisherman are not uneducated idiots and we should not act like we are by bantering back and forth we should be educating people on the positve aspects of our sport.

Selective harvest, and catch & release.
Would bowfishermen practice selective harvest, if the LM Bass was put on the list of legal targets?
Obviously C&R is out, but would most bowfishermen take a pass on sighted bass?
The greatest odds of sighting bass, is when they are on their beds, BTW.

Shoot all the carp you want, -leave native gamefish to the hook-and-line methods.

So when you guys bow fish would it be best to shoot the bass right off of the spawn bed ? Will that have an impact on future bass fishing . Then why not muskie too ? Shoot them all let god sort them out !

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This page contains a single entry by Dale Bowman published on August 26, 2009 8:35 AM.

Midwest Fishing Report: Kings visiting shore was the previous entry in this blog.

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