Arrow-right Camera
The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Want to shoot fish with arrows to help the environment? This Moses Lake carp tournament is for you

If you want to shoot lots of fish for a good cause, you’re in luck.

Anglers will flock to central Washington on May 21, for the third annual Moses Lake Carp Classic.

The free bowfishing tournament runs from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. and is open to the public. Participants can register between 6 a.m. and 6:30 a.m. at Connelly Park in Moses Lake.

Ty Swartout, who created the event in 2019, said the tournament has two purposes.

Participants remove thousands of invasive common carp, a Eurasian species that causes significant environmental damage in American waters. The competition also helps educate the public about the harm carp cause, Swartout said.

When carp feed and spawn, they disturb vegetation and sediment at the lake bottom. That disturbance releases sediment, silt and phosphorus into the water and those nutrients can fuel algal blooms.

“They’re horrible for our lakes,” Swartout said.

Carp cause damage in a few other ways, too. For instance, they outcompete native species.

Moses Lake is full of unwanted carp, Swartout said, and fishermen will remove thousands of pounds of fish during the classic.

One tournament isn’t enough to remove all the carp, Swartout said, but it still makes for a healthier lake.

“It’s something that, over time, could help,” Swartout said. “We’re never going to get them all out of there.”

Americans don’t tend to eat much carp. Swartout said the thousands of pounds of fish anglers catch on May 21 will go to a commercial crawdad fisherman in western Oregon, who uses them as bait.

The best bowfishermen could leave the classic with some prize money.

Whoever catches the biggest carp will take home $1,000. The shooter with the 10 heaviest carp gets at least $400 – the pot is growing. Whichever boat shoots the most carp total, by weight, will also earn at least $400, and a fourth prize, for the biggest koi or goldfish shot, will pay out $300.

Shooters have to pay $30 to participate in the top 10 and gross weight categories.