By Fredy Riehl
Peoria, Illinois -(Ammoland.com)- It is the end of May and bowhunting has wrapped up, even the late Archery turkey season has come and gone, but I still have that urge to stick some arrows in fresh meat.
That is exactly how myself and Brian Johnson felt as we drove through the miles upon miles of freshly planted corn in the Illinois farmland. Our destination was Peoria Illinois, a medium size city in Illinois, home of Caterpillar Heavy Equipment, which is not surprising, but also Maui Jim Sunglasses, shouldn’t they be in Maui HI?
We were headed to meet up with our fishing guide, Capt. Nate Wallick of Peoria Carp Hunters, to take a few hours break and have some fun bowfishing the famous flying carp that populate the Illinois river in these parts.
Jumping Asian Carp are an invasive species that have taken over parts of the Illinois river, endangering native wildlife and becoming an danger to boaters as well as the environment., The “Asian Carp” name is kinda a catch all for a variety of different carp species, the ones we are talking about are the bighead and grass carp. And of those two, the bighead carp are the crazy athletic jumpers that everyone comes out on the river in these parts to see and shoot.
We meet up with Capt. Nate just across the river from Peoria at a state managed boat ramp. It was late morning and Nate was all ready for us.
Down on the dock Nate gave us the run down on what to expect and what not to do, like falling out of the boat, as if…? The Captain brought all the gear and proceeded to familiarize us each with PSE Discovery Bowfishing 40# Setup.
He checked that we had our IL 24 hour fishing license and some extra coats, suggested we hit the head and then we were off. Headed downriver on this tributary of the big muddy.
Nate confided in us later he was a little worried we would not see enough fish, as it had been raining and parts of the river were high and the temps were in the low sixties. Not to mention it was the middle of May and the Grass Carp don’t put on the full blown insane jumping routine until well into June, when the water warms up and they begin to group up and spawn in the shallow waters.
Turned out he worried for nothing, as the first jetty we slowed down at, sprung to life with 40 – 50 carp flailing about in the air. The hunt was on!
Typical bow-fishing is a slow methodical effort, but not with these invasive carp. When a school of Grass Carp start jumping its is completely random, the only warning you may get is that some start hitting the bottom of the boat before they all start bursting into the air. After that is an insane melee of flying fish. Check out one of the Peoria Carp Hunters videos below and you will quickly get the idea.
So we spent about a two hours scaring up flying carp from three or four different locations all within a mile or so of each other along the Illinois river.
Then Capt. Nate suggested we head back up stream to a calmer creek where we could do some quiet, traditional style, bowfishing for some Big-Head carp, another invasive that is not so prone to jumping out of the water.
Right away we could see schools carp as well as some Garfish and soon after we had multiple fish on the hook.
Peoria Carp Hunters supplied all the gear for the trip and the bow setups consisted of PSE Discovery Bowfishing packages at 40# with AMS bowfishing reels. This is a great package and very easy to use.
After two or three test shots we were hitting our targets, (well mostly, it is fishing ) and Captain Nate also had for use the same setup in 29 pounds. No archery sights are used as it is all instinctual shooting.
With the flying carp fishing you just have no time to line up traditional archery sights.
Though you may have more time with the float and stalk creek fishing, much of that is on the move and at a variety of different distances.
All in all, great gear and easy to use and very satisfying as you really are just shooting from the hip and sticking fish.
After four hours fishing we had a garbage can full of large Grass and Big-Head carp and another great story to tell. If you are in this part of Illinois we highly recommend you touch base with Captain Nate as he was super easy to work with and is the man to see about carp fishing in these parts of Illinois. A great adventure you should definitely add to your bucket list, especially if you have no patience for good ole drift fishing.
When you hit the schools of jumping carp it is fast and heck-tick. I was even hit if the back and we had fish throwing themselves in the boat. Bowhunters, you will love it.
- Peoria Carp Hunters: http://www.peoriacarphunters.com/
- PSE Archery: http://pse-archery.com/product-category/bowfishing-bows/
- Illinois Fishing Licenses http://www.dnr.illinois.gov/LPR/Pages/FishingLicensesFees.aspx
- Illinois Fishing Regulations : http://www.dnr.illinois.gov/fishing/Documents/IllinoisFishingInformation.pdf