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An Outdoorsman’s Journal – 5-27-2015

by Mark Walters

A Bowfishing Addiction

Hello friends,

I watched my stepson Joey Dushek teach himself how to bowfish when he was a sophomore in high school. The kid was addicted after letting his first arrow fly and his life, as a great many people are well aware, has changed.

By the time Joey was a junior at Necedah High School he was called “Carp Kid Joey” and about that same time he started fishing with Tony Waltemath and shortly after that, Johnny Waltemath.

The following is a night spent with this team of 2014 Wisconsin Bowfishing Association State Champions and some of their history, tactics and gear.

Friday, May 1st
High 71, low 40

The Waltemath cousins are right around 40 and have been bowfishing since high school on both the nearby Petenwell and Castlerock flowages, which are two highly respected bodies of water in this incredibly fast growing industry.

When Joey came into their lives, tey were fishing out of 2072 flatbottom boat that was pushed by an outboard motor and had a fan for fishing.

Last winter Joey bought that boat because Tony headed down to Louisiana and purchased what I would call; a tank on the water that can fly like a butterfly and its occupants can sting like a bee. Tony Waltemath came home with a “Redneck 2086” which is an airboat like you would take tourists on in the Everglades.

The last time I flung an arrow at a carp was the year Joey graduated, he is now 21 and I knew I would suck big time.

So, Tony has whacked some buffalo in the forty-pound range this afternoon and I get to see them as we are off loading at a landing on the Castlerock flowage an hour before dark.

The boys are predicting the night of nights and I am quietly wondering how my smashed left hand is going to work in both rapidly pulling back a bow, hitting a swimming fish and then pulling it into the boat while the boat is moving. I console myself with the knowledge that I am going to be able to watch these guys put on an incredible show.

I notice that there are lots of other bowfishermen at the landing and on the water and if you live in Necedah, you see them at the local Kwik Trip just before the sun goes down and then when it comes up.

It is now about dark, the halogen lights are on and the “Marsh Rats” their tournament team name, are out to feed. If you are a rough fish I would suggest going deep and stay away from anything that sounds like a motor. In about the time it takes to fillet five walleye these guys have whacked 15 buffalo and carp.

Remember the old WW11 movies where the tail gunners on the bombers are fighting Germans and Japs from every angle in the turret of the plane. That is the Marsh Rats!

They kill rough fish and they are very efficient at it.

By the time I whacked one each of them had five! They waste no time getting them in the boat, which requires pulling string in by hand and reel and often times tag teaming on an extra arrow in a fish.

Last year when they won the state tournament in one night they ended the heart beat on 256 rough fish. Folks what carp and buffalo do to the habitat on the bottom of the lake is devastating, these guys and gals are a literal gift to the lake. Everything is mud and torn up vegetation. Can you imagine how difficult it must be for a bluegill or a bass to have a successful spawning bed that a few weeks later hatches young?

I remember Joey leaving the house at night and floating an Otter Sled behind him in the cattails. Then he rigged up a jon boat his senior year in high school in shop class.

Then a couple of guys who would eventually become a team of three teamed up and about all I can say is if you are a rough fish and you get in their sights, you are in very big trouble!

Thanks guys!  Sunset

THIS WEEK’S COLUMN IS SPONSORED BY: Hiawatha National Bank