Let me tell you about my youth and how my carp fishing career took off. There was a waterway that flowed right near our high school and every year in late May and June I would walk along the banks marveling at the size of these behemoths as they lazily coasted by. Although I liked to fish I was relatively unfamiliar with carp. I was just amazed at their size, I wanted so badly to catch one of them just to see it up close. During that time of year they seem less interested in food and more interested in finding spawning areas and partners, so I was never able to hook one on a line. It was right about that time when I started really getting into this bow and arrow thing. I’m not sure how the topic of carp came up but the guy at the local archery shop mentioned something about “you do know you can shoot those with a bow and arrow right?” I don’t really remember what else he said but I’m pretty sure it went something like “You’ll need at least a half dozen barb tipped solid fiberglass arrows and some of this bow fishing line…” Anyhow off I went totally equipped with everything I needed. I had visons of hoisting up one of those massive fish for a picture that I could use to brag to all my buddies.

Now I knew very little about how to rig a carp arrow so I went to the library to get some written experience. For all you snotty nosed brats who are thinking why didn’t he just google it.., well lets just say this was slightly before the PC revolution. Anyway back to the books at the library. They showed the line attached to the front of the arrow but I didn’t like that so I tied it to the front and laced it through a hole in the back of the arrow. I’m pretty sure I lost that first arrow after the first couple of shots using that crappy string the archery shop snookered me into buying. Clearly 50 pound test was not enough, I figured perhaps it was one of those classic schemes to get me to buy more arrows. Off to the hardware store where I purchased something along the lines of braded 150 pound test nylon rope. I was certain, no carp was going to break that off. There is likely another very important reason why the shop didn’t sell me that superior strength line which I will explain next.

I was back at the river cleverly hidden on the bank, I had a clear shot at the carp as they swam by. Since I had the line exiting from the back of the arrow, where it would logically give you better arrow flight, I had to pay particular attention to the line as I drew the bow back. I would carefully draw the bow so that the line would travel over the shelf and along the arrow. I found out later this was a very bad idea, since there were any number of things it could have gotten caught on. Anyway, after I figured out how refraction worked and started finally aiming low enough my arrow started hitting the mark. I must have shot 2 dozen mostly small carp, I was really starting to hit my stride. I became selective only shooting at the bigger ones. What I discovered was that the bigger ones tended to stay more toward the center of the channel. I seem to recall one particular group of small whale sized carp loitering near the center of the river. They were the true trophy sized carp (if such a thing really exists) and they were clearly testing me. It was a long shot, perhaps 30 yards, but hey with a 55 pound compound bow, I’m sure I can do it. You know typical overconfident testosterone fueled teenager sort of thinking. I lined up the shot and released the arrow…, it was traveling on a perfect ark. I was certain it was going to staple that carp directly amidships, Then it happened… I’m not exactly certain what happened, but I’m pretty sure it had something to do with the make shift reel that I made from a plastic bucket. At some point I must have been a bit careless with one of the wraps and it became tangled on something. Teenagers never do careless things, which made it all the more surprising right? Anyway whatever it got caught on must have been pretty sturdy because that 150 pound test became incredibly tight. It began to stretch and stretch and stretch, I was amazed at how far that nylon cord can stretch. Ordinarily carp fishing line (like what the shop sold me originally) would simply break, although you would lose the arrow that might not be such a bad thing. About the time when the stretching capacity of the nylon rope hit its maximum I realized that breaking perhaps would in fact be a good thing. I was essentially holding onto a bow with the arrow tied to a very long rubber band. I’ve never seen an arrow coming straight back at me before, that was a particularly exhilarating experience.

I remember thinking lucky for me it’s coming back at me nock first because I would hate to have to try and remove the barbs. I was using one of those fishing heads that you had to push all the way through in order to close the barbs and remove it from the fish. I’m thinking removing that from my own body would probably not have been an enjoyable experience. I was also hopeful it wouldn’t hit me in any of my critical organs. Being a teen aged boy I suspect you could guess which one I was most concerned about. This experience really makes you start to wonder how is it even plausible a deer could possibly jump the string. Instinct finally took over and I stood on one leg and used the other leg to curl up in a mock fetal position as I yelled Oooooh sh!&%#$@t in a rather high pitched squeal. By some miracle there was enough drag on one side of the arrow that by the time it hit me, it had turned completely sideways. The solid fiberglass arrow struck me with a rather loud cracking noise directly across my curled up leg. It’s hard to describe the relief I felt but let’s just say it was excruciatingly painful. It was around this time I started to be concerned about how safe this sport actually was. Seems I needed to gather some safety information gained from real life experience. I was sporting a big red welt on my leg as I made my way back to the archery shop.

Now I loved the guys at the shop, they were always very helpful particularly when it came to selling me more equipment. However, after I explained what happened I think their roaring laughter may have lasted a bit too long for my tastes. Anyway they explained how tying the line to the back of the arrow could have resulted in losing a finger, or worse yet, having the arrow bounce back at me from 2 feet instead of 25 yards. Despite their unprofessional giggles as they showed me a better way I listen intently hoping to avoid any future embarrassments. Now I tell you this story not because I’m looking for any sympathy but more to keep you from making similar mistakes. There is this great program called the National Bowhunters Education Foundation. We offer a class specifically designed to help you take more game and avoid those unfortunate situations where you may have lacked some critical forethought. I hope you sign up for a Bowhunters Ed class today you can help us by sharing your experiences and we’ll do our best to prepare you for whatever game you plan to hunt. Thanks for your time and shoot straight.