Earlier this year, Bob and friends went on a trip to Land Between the Lakes, Kentucky to do some atlatl spear fishing. The lakes there are overrun with Asian Carp, an invasive species that makes for the perfect fish for harpooning. We’ve finally gotten around to editing a few of the videos. Here are the first two videos, and we have several more to come. Enjoy!
Atlatl Fishing – Shooting, Filleting and Eating Asian Carp
Bob Berg demonstrates how to shoot an Asian Carp with an atlatl and harpoon setup, and then what to do with the fish after you spear it (hint: eat it).
Atlatl Spear Fishing – Dealing with Refraction
Atlatl spear fishing tutorial! Bob explains how refraction affects your aiming when you shoot into water, and where to aim relative to where the fish appear. (In short: Shoot just “under” the fish.)
Okay so it’s snowy and cold in a lot of places but we can dream of what awaits us (or if you live in a warmer climate, get ready for an adventure)! We’re already getting seed catalogs in the mail so think spring!
Fishing with atlatls and harpoons is exciting and fun. It’s one of the most satisfying uses of an atlatl even if you don’t get anything. We and our customers have experienced atlatl harpoon fishing in the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, on lakes in Kentucky and New York, Michigan, Florida and Michigan. Thunderbird Atlatl’s harpoons have proven themselves over and over again.
Bob Berg with a blue fish caught with a Wyalusing atlatl and a Thunderbird Atlatl harpoon. Bob was fishing in Long Island Sound off the Connecticut coast with Gary Nolf and Scott Van Arsdale.
Last July just off of Drummond Island in Lake Huron, Michigan, a group of us spent an enjoyable day and night making our equipment and preparing for atlatl fishing. We fastened two canoes together to make a pontoon so people could stand up in the boat safely so they could see into the water to shoot fish. This was all part of the Great Lakes Traditional Arts Gathering which will take place again in July 2014.
Fishing with harpoons in Lake Huron, Michigan, just off of Drummond Island. No fish were harmed in the production of this photo.
One of our canoes used battery powered lights. The other more traditional setup used birch bark torches. The piece of birch about the torch is a blind to keep the harpooner from being blinded by the light.
Night Fishing at Drummond Island with birch bark torches at the Great Lakes Traditional Arts Gathering.
The sun turned the sky to brilliant red as it sank beneath the tree line along the western shore of the Rainbow River. In the evening calm the clear water was glass smooth. I held my atlatl and harpoon dart ready in hopes I would get a clear shot at a fish. We could see occasional ripples cross the water around us, telling of fast moving small fish attempting to escape the clutches of some of the larger predatory species. But the sun reflecting off the top of the water kept everything below the surface hidden from view.
We talked for a while, waiting for the darkness to settle in. In the distance vultures coming in from every direction landed in a giant cypress tree that grew out of the shallow water of the flats. A symphony of alligators chortled in every tone belying their various sizes from small to very large. Earlier that day we had seen several large alligators sunning themselves on fallen logs. We weren’t here for alligators but anywhere you see gators you will see gar.
To spear gar with an atlatl you have to be able to see them well and they need to be in reasonably shallow water. At night with the Colman lanterns we have rigged to the bows of our boats you can see the gar as deep as twenty five feet swimming along like submarines barely wavering from their characteristic straight line course. The skin of a gar is like armor with the texture of rough sandpaper. To get a dart through this you need sharp points and enough energy to break through a quarter inch of bone like skin. It can be done with a bow but the arrow looses energy much faster than a harpoon dart. The added length and weight of the dart allow deeper penetration of the water, with enough energy left to penetrate the thick hide of the gar.
Leggs spotted the first giant gar as we entered a lagoon. He was not ready for it but I was. I had to cast at just at the right time to make the shot. I hit it right in the middle of its five foot long body and it took off. I let the line go as it retreated until I had nothing left but the float at the end of my line. I hung on as the fish dragged the boat several hundred yards. As the fish tired I pulled it closer to the boat. Leggs, being the bravest of us gaffed it into the boat. It slashed with its razor teeth just scratching the back of Leggs’ hand. He stowed it under the deck where it could not hurt us after we took several pictures.
It is an annual event for us to go to Florida in the middle of February to enjoy our atlatl adventures. We meet at Payne’s Prairie Campground where the annual Knap-in occurs. The park has great facilities and is perfectly situated for us to be able to go to the various places in North Florida to hunt and fish with our atlatls. Also Florida’s fish and game laws allow the use of the atlatl.
The sun drops below the treeline.
Red sky at night, sailor's delight.
First atlatl shot with a harpoon…
And first big gar, harpooned with an atlatl.
Fifty-five inch gar landed.
Andy with his gar. That's Micah behind him.