John Hood, Greg Campbell and Brian Ellenburg of Georgia captured the U.S. Bowfishing Championship in the team’s first time at the event on Table Rock and Bull Shoals lakes in Missouri.
The winners claimed $10,000 for their weight of 376 pounds of rough fish. All the fish brought in by teams during the tournament were converted into fertilizer. The championship was held May 2-4 and attracted 236 boats and more than 900 anglers representing 27 states.
“I’ve been bowfishing since 1993 and this was the most organized and complete tournament I’ve ever been to,” said John Hood, captain of the team that also included Greg Campbell and Brian Ellenburg. It was amazing how well the large crowds were dealt with and how efficient the weigh-in process was.”
Two teams from Oklahoma took home cash prizes for longest gar and biggest fish. Chris Parker’s team, Upright Bowfishing, took the longest gar at 62.5 inches, which earned them a $5,000 check. Matt Rush’s team, Midnight Mafia, had the biggest fish at 45.55 pounds and for that they received $7,000. Ben Patterson from Sapulpa, Okla., won the Tracker 1860 Bowfishing Boat valued at $18,995.
“As a 20-year veteran of running tournaments and other events, I have never been a part of a more excited and happy group of fisherman,” said Mike Webb, tournament director. “This was our biggest event to date and it was our most enjoyable one also.”
Webb added that about 40,000 pounds of fish were removed from the lakes. SF Organics, a Division of Schafer Fisheries, had a truck on site during the weigh-in and collected the fish to process as environmentally friendly fertilizer. All fish taken during the U.S. Open Bowfishing Championship will be put to good use as advances in technology have made it possible to liquefy fish into a safe, healthy fertilizer for use by organic farmers and home and garden purposes.
Outdoor celebrities Lee and Tiffany Lakosky of Outdoor Channel’s “The Crush”; Travis “T-Bone” Turner, co-host of “Michael Waddell’s Bone Collector”; and Brian Quaca of Sportsman’s Channel, “Pigman: The Series” were on hand and competed in a Top Shot celebrity shootout. The event was at the new Bass Pro Shops Outdoor Academy in Ridgedale.
Proceeds totaling more than $8,000 from the bowfishing championship were donated to the James River Basin Partnership to fund a clean-up effort. The James River Basin Partnership is a grassroots, nonprofit, organization working to improve and protect the water quality of the springs, streams, rivers, and lakes in southwest Missouri’s James River Watershed.
“We here at the James River Basin Partnership appreciated the opportunity to work with Bass Pro Shops on the U.S. Open Bowfishing Tournament,” said Joe Pitts, executive director of the James River Basin Partnership. “This event is a perfect example of the positive outcome of a 16-year partnership between JRBP and Bass Pro Shops to improve the quality of water in the springs, streams, rivers and lakes of the James River Basin.”