527-lbs. of Fish Wins First Annual Georgia Bowfishing State Championship
Targeting gar over carp proved to be the winning strategy at the Georgia Bowfishing Association’s first annual state championship.
The 12-hour, nighttime bowfishing tournament was held from 7 p.m. Saturday evening May 20 through 7 a.m. Sunday May 21 at Lake R.B. Russell. Eighteen three-man teams from Georgia, Alabama, South Carolina and North Carolina participated in the tournament, which was sanctioned by the Bowfishing Association of America, and they had to deal with rain and wind.
“We were dodging thunderstorms all night,” said Buck Ernst, a member of the winning team. “We had to sit in the truck between 1 a.m. and 2 a.m. while a thunderstorm went by.”
Overall, 3,300 pounds of carp and gar were weighed in. The winning weight was 527 pounds arrowed by John Hood of Clayton, Greg Campbell of Macon, and Buck Ernst of Comer. First place paid $1,000.
Buck won a retriever reel for taking the biggest gar of the tournament, a fish that measured 48-1/2 inches long.
“We chose to go after gar,” said Buck. “The average gar weighs between eight and 10 pounds — a lot more than most carp.”
The No. 1 team brought in 160 fish that weighed 527 pounds, an average of 3.3 pounds per fish. The second-place team weighed in 130 fish that weighed 369 pounds, an average of 2.8 pounds per fish.
Buck said the night was slow on usual bowfishing terms.
“When we scouted the lake we were seeing 300 fish per hour,” he said. “During the tournament the weather had them off the banks, and we were seeing around 100 fish per hour.
“We were shooting fish in three or four feet of water instead of right up on the back,” he said.
Buck said main-lake points and any cove with an irregular shoreline with lots of pockets and points were good places to find fish. The gar, he said, were concentrated on shoals.
Buck noted that he took some gar home.
“They are a pain to clean, but they are good eating,” he said.
Second place and $700 went to the team of Robbie Robertson, Ray Fitzgerald and Vince Robertson for 369 pounds of fish.
The weight of one gar separated second place from third. The team of Mike Cathey, Butch Sampson and Warren Blalock placed third and won $425 for 362 pounds.
While most of the carp shot were common carp, the biggest carp of the tournament was a 24 1/2-lb. grass carp shot by David Thresh of Montgomery, Ala. David won $450 for the heaviest carp.
Fish collected after the tournament were delivered to a White County farmer to be used as fertilizer.
Prizes were donated by Muzzy and Backwater Bowfishing.
For information on the Georgia Bowfishing Association, contact Jason Evans at (706) 436-2017 or Jason Cathey at (706) 969-8330.
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