By Kierra Pixler, Managing Editor
It’s nightfall and Brett Bailey stands on the deck of one of his three specially designed pontoon boats with built-in LED see lights scanning the cloudy water. Next to him, Candice Combs nocks an arrow in her bow with anticipation of striking that next catch in the eerie waters of Belton Lake. The couple often scouts the waters from Belton Lake down river to Buchanan and Lake Travis.
While Bailey is a fiber optics splicer and Combs is a land surveyor by day, the couple can often be found on the river teaching bowfishing and leading tours with their newly started business Highly Suspect Bowfishing.
“Brett’s love for bowfishing started as a kid, bowfishing with his family walking the banks of the Llano River,” said Combs. “He got me hooked when we started dating in 2010, and the addiction has ‘spiraled out of control’ since then. As fishermen, we are beyond excited to have started our guide service, Highly Suspect Bowfishing, and to get back to our fishing roots. While we have both lived all over the country, we currently call and have always thought of the central Texas region home.”
Bowfishing is essentially a cross between fishing and bowhunting. Fish such as carp, buffalo, and gar tend to clutter rivers and bowfishing is a way to help bring down those numbers while also enjoying the sport itself. It allows you to go out and shoot dozens of arrows and see the fish start rolling in.
“It is very different from traditional fishing, as with traditional fishing you cast a line and wait,” said Combs. “In bowfishing there is no waiting, you can practically choose a fish and shoot! Also, in bowfishing, Texas Parks and Wildlife does not allow bowfishers to shoot game fish, which is good for us as we are also avid anglers, and love the idea that we get the chance to clean our lakes of the ‘invasive trash fish,’ like carp, buffalo, and gar species that have been detrimental to our local game fish species.”
The sport can come off as intimidating to beginners, but the fast-paced action and simplicity behind first learning gives you that initial advantage.
“Bowfishing itself is not difficult, and most people catch on quickly,” said Bailey. “For those who have experience in archery it seems to come naturally, the most difficult part is getting used to the refraction of the arrow that shooting into the water causes, but it is easy to overcome with a little practice.”
“Anyone interested in taking up the sport shouldn’t be scared to try it out,” said Combs. “Just about anyone can do it. Our guide service may be the perfect way for an angler to break the ice. No equipment is required, we provide all bows and equipment necessary to fish, along with drinks and snacks for the duration of the trip. However, we welcome clients to bring any specialty food/drinks of their choosing, and their personal equipment if they already have access to it, in which we have additional storage space to compensate for that.”
They are currently working on launching their Facebook page, but if you are interested in their guide service, feel free to call Brett at 512-540-2604 or Candice at 512-540-1879.