Bob Maindelle Guide Lines June 5

Hunter Burnett poses with his 35-pound, 41¾-inch pending Lake Georgetown bowfishing record. The outsized grass carp was taken in the early morning hours on May 28.

In the wee hours on May 28, Rick Munguia, owner of Awesome Bowfishing based in Briggs, put one of his clients onto the fish of a lifetime.

Munguia was joined right around sunset on May 27 by Hunter Burnett, age 24, and his father, Jay Burnett, both visiting Central Texas from Pampa, Texas.

Munguia had chosen to bowfish on the waters of Lake Georgetown. The small Corps of Engineers reservoir is approximately 1,297 acres in size, according to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. Lake Georgetown is fed by the San Gabriel River.

While underway to the first cove in which the men would bowfish, Munguia covered basic safety concerns and discussed the night’s bowfishing strategy.

Bowfishing involves the harvest of non-game species of fish using specialized archery equipment.

Modern bowfishing equipment typically includes a compound bow to which a closed-face reel or other form of spool or line retriever is attached. The line from that device is attached to a heavy, fiberglass arrow equipped with a barbed tip, all designed to allow the archer to shoot a fish, then retrieve the fish and the arrow.

Non-game species of fish generally include those fish to which no length or bag limits apply, such as carp, some species of gar, buffalo fish, gizzard shad, suckers,and others.

Two of the greatest challenges in bowfishing are consistently finding fish which are shallow enough to shoot, and learning to aim at fish found at various depths and distances away from the archer while accounting for refraction.

Refraction refers to the way light is bent as it enters the water, thus making objects appear to be other than where they actually are. Because of refraction, many novice bowfishers tend to miss by shooting high over top of the fish when they take aim directly at a fish. To overcome this, bowfishers learn to aim beneath the location where fish appear to be.

Over the course of the trip, and prior to entering the last cove they would fish for the night, the trio managed to successfully land four common carp, three longnose gar and one spotted gar.

As the trip was winding down, Hunter Burnett was in the bow of the boat as Munguia piloted it into a cove using an electric trolling motor.

The fish, a grass carp, was spotted about 20 feet off the bank and near the surface in about 10 feet of water. When Hunter released his arrow, the fish was within just a few feet of the boat, out in front of it, headed toward the boat’s port side.

Burnett’s arrow struck the fish high on the back, a few inches behind its head. As soon as it did, the fish took off on a long, strong run.

Munguia coached Burnett at this point, urging him not to get in a hurry nor put too much strain on the line attached to the arrow so as to avoid pulling it out of the fish. When the fish gave, Munguia urged Burnett to reel line in. When the fish pulled, Munguia instructed Burnett to allow the reel’s drag to cushion the strain.

After a roughly five-minute tussle, the fish began to give up and the trio was able to work it to the side of the boat where Munguia gaffed it just behind the mouth, on the underside of the fish, and hoisted it into the boat.

Records for fish which are kept are all based on the weight of the fish, not the fish’s length, whereas record status for fish which are caught and released is based solely on the fish’s length.

The men contacted me around 8 a.m. on May 28 in my capacity as an official TPWD Fish Weigh Station to see about getting the fish weighed on a certified scale, and measured so a record application could be submitted to TPWD.

Munguia works as the head of the dismantling department at Harold’s Auto Parts in Briggs, where he and his family reside. It was a connection at his work which led to Munguia’s interest in bowfishing.

“One of our employees has friends who own a bowfishing guide service,” Munguia said. “We booked with them, and after the first time I was hooked.”

That guide service was Highly Suspect Bowfishing based in Bertram.

After Munguia’s introduction to the sport, he started his own part-time bowfishing guide service called Awesome Bowfishing, a sole proprietorship registered in Burnet County.

“As Awesome Bowfishing continues to grow, we are building momentum by consistently providing our clients with safe, informative, and exciting trips,” Munguia said. “We now have a website at www.AwesomeBowFishing.com in addition to our Awesome Bowfishing Facebook page.”

Munguia’s bowfishing platform consists of a 2022 Tracker Grizzly 2072 boat equipped with a 36-volt, 112-pound thrust Riptide Fortrex trolling motor by Minn Kota. To light up the night, Munguia counts on his 2,000-watt Firman generator which supplies power to a bank of 12 100-watt SeeLite bowfishing lights.

Munguia’s choice of archery equipment includes a Zebco 808 close-faced reel with 150-pound test line attached to a PSE D3 compound bow. Muzzy arrows and safety-slide carp-point arrowheads complete the package.

According to my certified scale, Burnett’s fish weighed exactly 35 pounds. Laid flat on a measuring board with the mouth shut and tail lobes pinched together, the fish went 41¾ inches.

This will be the first entry for this species of fish coming out of Lake Georgetown. As with all record fish entries, a properly completed application, a photo of the fish on the measuring board and a photo of the angler with the fish were all submitted to TPWD.

Munguia can be contacted at awesomebowfishing@gmail.com, or at 806-664-1084.

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