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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
The top ten teams at this year’s U.S. Open are as follows:
- Mid-MO Bowfishing – 393.65#
- Team Stump Jumper – 351.68#
- Dirty Boys Bowfishing – 349.15#
- Moenig – 349.00#
- Team Let’s Hunt – 330.65#
- Muzzy Bowfishing – 324.55#
- Southern Style Bowfishing 320.55#
- Hood-Campbell-Ellenburg – 316.65#
- Team Fin-O-Cide – 299.20#
- Strickly Bowfishing – 294.10#