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Bow fishing combines Highland Lakes favorites

Texans 13 years and older can go bow fishing, a sport that targets non-game species such as alligator gar, carp, buffalo, and drum. Courtesy photo

Bow fishing in the Highland Lakes combines hunting and fishing, attracting outdoor sports enthusiasts of all kinds. Just ask Jerad Pool, co-owner of Hill Country Hammer Guides and Outfitters, 100 CR 127 in Kingsland.

“It’s a different experience that not a lot of people get to do,” Pool said. “It’s more for your hunters and archers, but anyone can do it.”

Hill Country Hammer provides the equipment and training to bow fish. You must be 13 or older.

“We do a 30-minute safety course before we start,” Pool said. “We teach how to use the equipment safely before we take them out.”

Archers go out on lakes Buchanan, Inks, Travis, or LBJ in a 21-foot, flat-bottom boat, lights running, looking for clear, shallow water and non-game species such as carp, gar, buffalo, and drum.

Bow fishing regulations, which are set up and enforced by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, are fairly strict. As in all fishing, anyone 17 and older and born before Jan. 1, 1931, has to have a valid fishing license, even for bow fishing. A hunting license is required for turtles or frogs.

Non-game fish are the only wildlife you can hunt with a bow and arrow from a boat. Alligator gar are limited to one a day. Fish harvested by bow cannot be released back into the water.

“We take them to a couple of the local nurseries,” Pool said. “They use them as fertilizer.”

The Lower Colorado River Authority has its own restrictions on the Highland Lakes, starting with the fact that archery equipment is prohibited on LCRA land.

Also, bow fishing must take place from a boat and is not allowed within 75 feet of any marked designated swimming area; within 50 feet of any boat dock, pier, restricted or residential areas; or while wading. You cannot bow fish from a bank.

Only hand-pulled and hand-released equipment is allowed. Crossbows, draw-locking mechanisms, and arrows designed for flight through the air are prohibited.

No need to worry about remembering all this if you find a guide to take you.

“It’s pretty basic,” Pool said. “We ride around and shoot fish.”

Hill Country Hammer, which is the biggest freshwater outfitter in the state, according to Pool, has four full-time guides who also take customers game fishing with rod and reel. When asked which is better, he was quick to answer.

“It just depends,” he said. “They are both fun.”

As outfitters, they also set up hunts on ranches for white-tailed and axis deer and exotic game.

“We can provide all the firearms, rods and reels,” Pool said. “We can get you all the accessories for hunting and fishing. We handle everything from start to finish.”

Hill Country Outfitters is located at 100 CR 127 in Kingsland. Contact it at or 325-248-9520.

CORRECTION: The original version of this story called the types of fish targeted by bow hunters invasive. Several of our dedicated readers and avid anglers begged to differ. To be specific, bighead carp, black carp, and common carp are all considered invasive according to According to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, the fish we listed in the story are non-game fish but are not invasive.

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