A decades-long quest to shoot an Ohio bowfishing-record-breaking buffalo sucker ended in a big way May 21st for Westerville’s Josh Bowmar.
Bowmar has taken the new Ohio state record buffalo sucker- bowfishing category - by arrowing a 43-pound female buffalo sucker from Hoover Reservoir north of Columbus, a fish that also measured 43.5 inches with a girth of 28.875 inches.
Coincidentally, Hoover Reservoir likewise holds the title for the Ohio hook-and-line state record buffalo sucker: A 46.01 pound specimen taken Juky 2nd, 1999 by Tim Veit of Galena.
His fish beat the previous state record buffalo sucker of 40.80 pounds, taken from Lake Erie on October 11th, 2013 by Brent McGlone.
Bowmar’s new state record – as was McGlone’s fish and all other Ohio state record hook-and-line as well as bowfishing category entries – are determined by weight only.
Also, they are certified by the Outdoor Writers of Ohio with fish species identification assistance provided by the Ohio Division of Wildlife fisheries biologists. The Ohio outdoors writers group began the state record fish program several generations ago, and is the only such journalism organization that maintains an official list of state record fish.
In achieving his long-sought goal, the 28-year-old Bowmar said he’s been targeting Hoover for a decade, the 2,218-acre impoundment being only 10 to 15 minutes from his home.
“The thing is, the buffalo sucker spawn is so short on Hoover – just one or two days – you have to be there at the right time or you’ll miss it,” Bowmar said. ““My wife and I went to Hoover for a full week to see if we could meet the spawn.”
Bowmar said that he and his 29-year-old wife, Sarah, visited Hoover the day before he shot the sucker, saw fish spawning and decided to return to the same spot on May 21st. The couple also returned May 22nd to try and see if there might be an even larger buffalo sucker “but by then the spawn was all ready over,” Bowmar said.
“Being there at exactly the right time is hard, and there is an element of luck,” Bowmar said.
The Bowmars are dedicated archerers who spend up to six months traveling and videoing their exploits, including the taking of the new Ohio state record bowfishing record for buffalo sucker. This 4-minute/13-second long video can be seen on YouTube by accessing “Bowmar Bowhunting” and scrolling through the various entries.
Bowmar said as well that following his taking of what would become the new Ohio bowfishing state record buffalo sucker, Sarah arrowed the 25-pound male consort to the female he had just shot.
“I just happened to have shot the female and Sarah shot the male, but if there was a woman’s state record division I am certain Sarah would now hold it,” Bowmar said.
Both fish were taken in water considered somewhat deep for such bowfishing activity; about four or five feet and located off a point in Hoover Reservoir and not in some weedy or muddy bay, Bowmar said.
Shooting the fish demanded attention to details even before hitting the water. Bowmar has set up a Hoyt 60-pound draw weight recurve bow for instinctive shooting, and also employs an Easton FMJ bowfishing arrow comprised of a carbon core sheathed in an aluminum tube.
“The arrow is designed to penetrate deeper into the water than most other bowfishing arrows,” he said.
That point was a key factor in the Bowmars’ duel success as the buffalo sucker spawning pair was about three feet below the water’s surface.
“I drew back and gave it everything I had,” Bowmar said.
To further underscore the seriousness with which the Bowmars attach to bowfishing, the couple was first line to buy a specially designed and built bowfishing Tracker Marine Grizzly boat with “all of the bells and whistles,” Bowmar said.
Bowmar intends to have the new state record mounted, a fitting trophy, he says.
“I absolutely knew it was a monster fish and that Hoover had a potential new state record,” Bowmar said. “And as you can see from the video, it lost a lot of eggs on the deck of the boat. I’m guessing that had I plugged it and the fish had not lost all of those eggs, it would have gone 46 pounds.”
- By Jeffrey L. Frischkorn