Joe Evans, Fisheries Service
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Posted on April 25, 2013 | Permalink
Location: Mattawoman Creek
Last night, Maryland State Parks social outreach maven and super keen bow hunter Christina Holden and I jumped on Dutch Baldwin’s invitation to try some hunting in Mattawoman Creek.
Baldwin and his sidekick Franklin Shotwell have pretty much perfected the bow-fishing approach to the Potomac River’s two most notorious invasive species – Northern Snakehead and Blue Catfish.
His boat is a custom-fitted 21-foot Jon-boat rigged with a sturdy aluminum shooting deck fitted with six 120-volt sealed high-pressure 150-watt sodium vapor lights, a whisper-quiet four-stroke generator, a massive Grizzly cooler and a custom fish bucket/bow rest cut from a 50-gallon plastic drum. The fishing gear is a compound or recurve bow fitted with a modified spin-cast reel loaded with fluorescent Spectra yarn attached to a plain un-feathered fiberglass arrow. The effect is essentially what you might get by crossing Jeremy Wade (River Monsters) with Rambo.
Without going into the full thrill and details of the trip, let me just say—this is about the coolest thing on the planet, if you like a modern twist to old fashioned blood sport.
Imagine drifting through the lily pads and reeds in about a foot of murky water. Wisps of mist swirl over the water as clouds of small insects crowd the lights. Dutch steers the boat through the weeds and we stare into the halo of orange water, lit by the stadium lights – looking for the dark silhouette that could be a Snakehead or a suspicious looking stick. Then the stick moves a little and we can see the full length dorsal fin that announces this to be the target. Remember to aim low because of the way light refracts in water. The fish is not where you think it is…
This time, Christina shot just a millimeter too high —enough to motivate the fish to motor off. But then, Shotwell let go in a flash and hit the fish on the run. Shotwell shoots well.
Big Snakehead fish on, fish in, and headed eventually for the fry pan.