Illinois bowfishing expands: More species allowed

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Add shad and drum to species that bowfishers may pursue in Illinois, a result of legislation sponsored by state senator Dan Rutherford (R-Pontiac).

I have real mixed feelings.

On one hand, bowfishing may be showing the most exciting growth for youth in Illinois outdoors, right up there with turkey hunting.

On the other hand, the designation basically adds to the separation of fish into categories of trash or sport fish. Part of me understands that, and does a bit of it myself. Just a reminder that not too many decades ago largemouth bass were considered a trash fish.

Bowfishers may already pursue carp, gar, suckers, buffalo and bowfin in Illinois. The new regs took effect on Thursday.

Here’s the release from Rutherford’s office.

Rutherford legislation to allow taking of shad and drum PONTIAC, IL – Bowfishermen across Illinois will now be able to legally fish shad and drum species because of legislation sponsored by State Senator Dan Rutherford (R-Pontiac). Senate Bill 2129 was signed recently and it adds the two species to the listing of fish that can be taken by means of a pitchfork, underwater spear gun, bow and arrow device, spear, or gig. There were already five species that are on the list: carp, gar, suckers, buffalo and bowfin. This measure was brought to my attention by a constituent, who is a member of the Bowfishing Association of Illinois (BAI). I would like to commend the members of BAI and the Illinois Department of Natural Resources for their hard work on this legislation, Rutherford said. For more information about the sport of bowfishing and tasty fish recipes visit

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