Bowfishing: What to Do with the Fish

Brow Tines and Backstrap

Bowfishing: What to Do with the Fish

Posted 2018-05-16T15:30:00Z  by  Patrick Meitin

Don't Throw Away That Meat

The best carp for the table come from clear, clean water. (Gretchen Steele photo)

It's not uncommon during an average day of bowfishing to accumulate a barrel full of carp. While bowfishing will never eliminate carp from local waters, thinning the highly invasive species remains a guilt-free enterprise. Still, waste has always bothered me.

Worthwhile uses, where legal, is using carp for bear bait, sending out a powerful stink that can attract bears from miles. I once used chopped carp as highly effective trapping bait, cashing in on valuable fur and keeping ranchers happy. Carp also makes effective fertilizer, chopped and tilled into your vegetable patch, or ran through a chipper/shredder directly onto food plots (I know, gross).

Still another option is eating them. Americans are the only culture averse to eating carp. Europeans and Asians prize them as table fare. Brining and smoking allows the flavorful meat to flake away from the abundant bones. Smoked carp, as found in New York kosher delis, cost more than prime beef. The best prospects are carp found in clear, clean water free of pollutants.

"Smoke Flavors" by Tiffany Haugen

Though thinning non-native carp is never a sin, you can make use of your take as garden fertillizer, and even a tasty snack. (Gretchen Steele photo)Smoked carp can be basic or incredibly complex. Spicey sweet smoked carp provides a touch of the exotic Far East, blending sweet, smoke and spice together for a tantalizing treat. Toss with rice or couscous with a handful of chopped almonds, dried apricots, golden raisins, dried cherries or green onions and you create a beautiful, tasty side dish.

Spicey Sweet Smoked Carp


  • 2 1/2 cups brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup rock salt
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon onion powder
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 1 tablespooon white pepper
  • 1/2 tablespoon cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons allspice
  • 1 teaspooon cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon cloves
  • 1 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon ginger


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Mix all the above ingredients. Lay fish skin-side down in 9x11-inch glass casserole dish. Gently rub brine into fish before allowing to sit for 2 hours, moving fish around occassionally. Cover and place in refrigerator for 12 hours. Rinse fish, place on racks and allow a thin membrane to form; 1 to 3 hours. Smoke to desired texture, 3 to 10 hours depending on smoker used, volume of fish and outdoor conditions. Check frequently so not to overcook. If needed, fish can be finished in 165-degree oven. To retain moisture, cover warm fish with plastic wrap or place in sealed container. Refrigerate immediately. Vacuum seal for long-term storage -- two weeks in the refrigerator and up to six months in the freezer.

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Editor's Note: This was originally published on May 21, 2012.

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