How to Bowfishing for Salmon

Introduction Bowfishing for Salmon

Bowfishing can be an effective form of fishing as it involves the use of archery equipment to shoot at and reel back in the fish. This means, however, that there are many techniques involved in successfully bowfishing, especially when it comes to salmon, as salmon is usually fished through more traditional means such as trolling or drift fishing. In order to prepare yourself for bowfishing salmon, you need to be prepared on multiple fronts beforehand to make the bowfishing experience a pleasant and successful one. The steps to consider are discussed below: 

Locating Bowfishing for Salmon

Salmon reproduce and have their offspring in freshwater, but after being born, the salmon migrate to spend the rest of their life in oceans. Hence, when it comes to locating salmon, you must consider multiple factors:

  • The first is the type of salmon you aim to catch as this can then change the area you need to visit for bowfishing.
  • Once you have determined the type of salmon you are looking for (or if you decide not to look for any specific type), you must consider where you can access it. Checking local salmon statistics can help you locate areas nearby that have salmon spawning.
  • You must also review any laws governing the water bodies you have found that prevent you from bowfishing salmon as archery equipment kills the fish, unlike traditional bait fishing. You may also need a fishing license ahead of time. 
  • Once the rules are clear, check weather forecasts and the expected depth that the fish swim at beforehand to prepare yourself for the actual fishing day.
  • It is also important to decide if you will be shooting from the shore or if there will be a need to arrange a boat.

The Equipment Required for Bowfishing for Salmon

Once you know where you can go to catch salmon, your next order of priority needs to be the bowfishing equipment you need. Preparing this ahead of time will allow you to have everything you need on the day you decide to actually go fishing. This includes:

Bows for Bowfishing for Salmon

Bows for bowfishing are rather basic and can be easily obtained from fishing stores.


It is important to stock up on multiple arrows for your fishing trip, especially if you are a beginner and only just starting bowfishing. This is because aiming at and perfectly shooting salmon can be tricky. You should also take into consideration the number of fish you aim to catch.


Many bowfishers prefer to have polarized sunglasses in order to prevent sun glare from ruining their aim. Hence, it may help you shoot more successfully if you keep such sunglasses on hand. 

Line for Bowfishing for Salmon

Any fishing line made of a strong material will get hooked to the salmon when you shoot it successfully


The reel enables you to pull back the fish across the line after it has been shot.

Once you have gathered all the necessary equipment and prepared for the trip, it is time to turn to the actual process of bowfishing. 

The Process ofBowfishing for Salmon

There are multiple factors to consider when you actually start bowfishing. Once you have arrived at the area where there is an abundance of salmon and you have set up your gear, it is time to start aiming.

It is important to consider that there is refraction when our eyes meet the water. This means that the salmon will appear to be swimming closer to the surface than it actually is. This is important to note as it means you must aim lower than you instinctively would. Once you get used to this, you will get in the habit of seeing the salmon as farther than they appear without actively thinking about it.

You should not waste your time shooting when you cannot see the fish clearly. It is always advisable to aim and shoot only when the salmon is in clear sight and when you can aim for the area behind its gills.

Patience is key when bowfishing for salmon, and you should give yourself ample time to get in the flow of aiming and shooting with accuracy. Bowfishing is not complicated but it can take some time to get used to it, especially if the fish are swimming deeper than usual.

Once you have caught a salmon, leaving it on the floor of your boat or putting it in a bag is not ideal. You should keep a cooler on hand to store the salmon while you continue to fish. It is also better to clean out the guts of the fish as soon as possible to keep it fresh if you intend to cook it later. It is also important to remember that if you are out bowfishing for a long time, the ice in the cooler should be changed multiple times.

Many people prefer bowfishing over other forms of fishing because its similarity to archery makes it a leisurely sport. You should give yourself time during the day to enjoy the activity of fishing for salmon instead of thinking of it as a stressful ordeal. Once you successfully catch your first salmon, you will understand which techniques work best. Hence, you can continue to use the same techniques and find that you get more accurate shots over time.


As a whole, the process of bowfishing for salmon involves careful preparation beforehand. You need to find the perfect place to fish for salmon as well as gather or purchase all the equipment required for the actual fishing day. You will also need lots of patience and practice on the day of fishing in order to successfully catch many salmon. Though the process may seem difficult, the feeling of accomplishment upon catching your fish is worth the effort and wait.

Once bowfishing for salmon has been mastered, you can move on to different types of fish to catch in different locations.