U.S. Open Bowfishing Championship Raises the Bar on Big Fish, Fun, and Cash

By Brodie SwisherJune 15, 2015

The 2015 U.S. Open Bowfishing Championship is in the books, and it once again set new records for attendance, weight of fish, and money payouts to the winning teams. In its third year, the Bass Pro U.S. Open Bowfishing Championship featured 275 teams from across the country battling for the $25,000 grand-prize, making it the biggest event in bowfishing history.

275 teams from across the country rolled into the Bass Pro parking lot to compete in this year's U.S. Open Bowfishing Championship

275 teams from across the country rolled into the Bass Pro parking lot to compete in this year’s U.S. Open Bowfishing Championship

The event was held at the Bass Pro location in Springfield, MO June 12-14. In addition to this year’s tournament, Bass Pro also launched the first World’s Bowfishing Fair where they unveiled lots of gear from their brand new Archenemy Bowfishing line. Other vendors at this year’s event included Muzzy, AMS Bowfishing, NAP, Rinehart Targets, Fin Finder, Oneida Bows, PSE, Innerloc, Lumenok, Bowfishing Tour, Monster Bowfishing, and more. It’s an event for the whole family with tons of prizes, giveaways, and raffles for kids of all ages.

The newest boat in the Archenemy line created quite a buzz among attendees.

The newest boat in the Archenemy line created quite a buzz among attendees.

There were a number of seminars offered throughout the event from the likes of Chuck Belmore, John Paul Morris, and Jon Justice of The Habit TV show, Kevin VanDam, Corey Brossman, Tim Wells, Mathew Schillinger, Mike Hunsucker, Marty and Mia Davis, Dennis Redden, Tommy Woods, Andy Cardwell, Jody Acosta, and others. Topics included: Intro to Bowfishing, How to Clean Rough Fish, Ethical Bowfishing, Bowfishing for Stringrays, Building the Perfect Bowfishing Boat, Shooting Flying Targets, Scouting for Big Tournaments, Weather Patterns, and Bowfishing for Bigheads.

Kevin VanDam may be known as the best bass fishermen in the world, but his real passion is bowfishing!

Kevin VanDam may be known as the best bass fishermen in the world, but his real passion is bowfishing!

You knew the moment you stepped on to the grounds at Bass Pro that you had arrived at an event put on by folks that are addicted to bowfishing. Whether a beginner, or an old pro, they had it all covered to ensure an entertaining and educational experience for all. “Bowfishing is my passion,” says John Paul Morris, founder of the U.S. Open tournament. “I want to do everything I can to continue to grow this great sport.”

John Paul Morris and the Pig Man giving out goodies and gear for the kids.

John Paul Morris and the Pig Man giving out goodies and gear for the kids.

Despite a monstrous rain storm that rolled through right as teams were being released to their boats, excitement and anticipation continued to run high as teams pulled out of designated parking lots and headed to one of five lakes that were open to bowfishing for this tournament. The expanded list of lakes included in this year’s tournament were: Table Rock, Bull Shoals, Truman, Pomme de terre, and Stockton.

Despite the storms and lots of traffic in the Springfield area, the takeoff went pretty smoothly as boats rolled out to the lake.

Despite the storms and lots of traffic in the Springfield area, the takeoff went pretty smoothly as boats rolled out to the lake.

The U.S. Open tournament follows the Big 20 Format. Unlike the Numbers  Format where teams try to shoot as many rough fish as possible, the Big 20 Format finds teams hunting down the biggest 20 fish they can find. It is a fun, yet brutal, night of scrambling around the lake looking for fish. After a long, sleepless night on the water, the teams returned to Bass Pro with their 20 largest fish to be put on the scales. In addition to the award for the heaviest 20 fish, there was also a $5,000 check to be given to the team that hauled in the single largest fish of the event.

Team Fin-O-Cide from Tennessee patiently waits their turn at the scales for weigh-in.

Team Fin-O-Cide from Tennessee patiently waits their turn at the scales for weigh-in.

The Bass Pro crew had a slick and simple system for getting a lot of teams weighed in fairly quickly. Several guys met the boat to off-load the fish barrel. Two more guys were at the scales to weigh fish and then bark out numbers to several ladies that were entering team names and scores into the computer. Once the teams were done at the scales they proceeded down the line where their boat could be sprayed off with a pressure washer.

Despite a long sleepless night on the water, there's always a lot of excitement first thing in the morning at the scales for weigh-in.

Despite a long sleepless night on the water, there’s always a lot of excitement first thing in the morning at the scales for weigh-in.

The number of women participating in the sport of bowfishing is growing with each passing year. Not to be left out, women are jumping in the boat with their husbands, boyfriends, and buddies to take part in the exciting action bowfishing provides. Just ask Magon Lord. Magon proved that she can hang with the boys at this year’s U.S. Open by carrying her team (Team Let’s Hunt) into the top 5 out of 275 teams. That makes for a lot of teams that got beat by a girl!

Shoot like a girl? Magon Lord helped carry Team Let's Hunt into the top 5 at this year's U.S. Open.

Shoot like a girl? Magon Lord helped carry Team Let’s Hunt into the top 5 at this year’s U.S. Open.

One of the greatest things about any tournament is seeing that top team pull giant fish from the barrel at the end of the event. And when they keep pulling out one huge fish after another from the boat, you know they will be the team to beat. This tournament was no different. The crowd roared when four guys pulled out fish they struggled to hold in front of the large crowd gathered at the main stage.

The crowd roared when the Missouri boys kept pulling monster fish from the barrel at the main stage.

The crowd roared when the Missouri boys kept pulling monster fish from the barrel at the main stage.

When the dust finally settled and all the scores were tallied up, Team Mid-MO Bowfishing, from Clinton, MO were declared the 2015 U.S. Open Bowfishing Champions with a weight of 393.66 pounds. Team Captain, John Marshall, also took home big fish honors with a 60.8 pound Grass Carp that sealed the deal on the $5,000 Big Fish payout. Marshall’s fish was the biggest fish so far in the three years of the U.S. Open. The fish proved once again that one fish can make all the difference when it comes to bowfishing tournament action.

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Team Mid-MO Bowfishing cleaned house winning both the Big 20 Format and Big Fish at the 2015 U.S. Open.

The top ten teams at this year’s U.S. Open are as follows:

  1. Mid-MO Bowfishing – 393.65#
  2. Team Stump Jumper – 351.68#
  3. Dirty Boys Bowfishing – 349.15#
  4. Moenig – 349.00#
  5. Team Let’s Hunt – 330.65#
  6. Muzzy Bowfishing – 324.55#
  7. Southern Style Bowfishing 320.55#
  8. Hood-Campbell-Ellenburg – 316.65#
  9. Team Fin-O-Cide – 299.20#
  10. Strickly Bowfishing – 294.10#
Brodie Swisher
Brodie Swisher is a world champion game caller, outdoor writer, seminar speaker and Editor for Bowhunting.com. Brodie and his family live in the Kentucky Lake area of west Tennessee.
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