Bryan Hughes is no stranger to shooting big Alabama fish with his bow. In fact, he’s made it his business to shoot big chunky fish with archery equipment and help others across the country do the same. Hughes started Backwater Outdoors in Gurley, AL as a way to do what he loves for a living. The business has quickly grown to be the number one dealer of bowfishing gear anywhere in the world.
The store also hosts a bowfishing tournament series on and around Guntersville Lake that has grown in popularity with shooters across the north Alabama area. Guntersville Lake is known to produce some of the largest grass carp the bowfishing world has ever seen. The lake lived up to its reputation once again at this month’s tournament hosted by Backwater Outdoors as the fish of a lifetime was brought to the scales.
With some ugly weather in the area, Bryan Hughes and teammates, Scott Jennings and Madison Browning, were struggling to get on the fish they needed to place in this month’s Big 5 tournament format. However, things can change quickly with just one encounter with a big fish. And that’s exactly what happened for Hughes and his team as they cruised up on a giant fish in about 3 feet of water. Hughes and Jennings struck first putting two arrows in the monster fish. However, Hughes’ arrow was the only one to stay in the fish as the huge grass carp exploded away from the boat in an effort to get away.
The team stayed in hot pursuit of the fish, attempting backup shots and trying to wear the fish down. After what seemed like an eternity, they finally got the gaff in the fish and attempted to pull it into the boat. And that’s when they knew they really had something special. In fact, Jennings’ first attempt to pull the fish into the boat was a no-go. The fish was simply too big. It took a team effort to hoist the beast into the boat!
The team keeps an 80-pound scale in the boat for weighing big fish and to keep track of what they’re shooting. When they put this fish on the scale it bottomed out. It wouldn’t be until they got back for weigh-ins that they would find a scale that could handle the beast of a fish they had landed. You can only imagine the excitement of the team, and all the crowd, as the fish was placed on the scales and weighed in at 93.3 pounds!
The fish easily beat out the previous Bowfishing Association of America world record grass carp that stood at 87.8 pounds. The team’s fish was certified at 92 pounds and stands as the new Alabama state and world bowfishing record for grass carp.
Hughes says you can count on seeing this world record fish on display in his Backwater Outdoors store soon.