By Bill Cooper
Cpt. Bryan Wilson, of Jerome, owns and operates Stained Water Bowfishing. He offers Bowfishing and gigging trips across the Ozarks region, including the Osage and Gasconade rivers, as well as lakes including, Lake of the Ozarks, Truman, Pomme de Terre, Stockton, Taneycomo and Bull Shoals.
Cpt. Wilson targets rough fish, which includes German carp, grass carp, Asian carp, buffalo, and gar. Rough fish are abundant in the Ozarks, according to Wilson, offering his customers a target rich environment.
“I’ve bow fished most of my life,” Wilson said. “I spent a lot of time during my youth on the Gasconade River and Lake Taneycomo. We hunted and fished a lot, but when I discovered bowfishing it quickly became a passion.”
Cpt. Wilson has refined his equipment over the years, perfecting his style to offer customers a trip on the water that will leave them with lots of fond memories. “I keep the best equipment available on board my boat,” he said. “I supply everything a person needs to take rough fish. I supply Muzzy bowfishing bows, equipped with heavy duty Zebco reels, and plenty of fishing arrows.”
Wilson also supplies a big custom built Legend SS boat, from Cowtown USA, in Cuba. The boat is equipped with the latest gear, including LED lights, fishing electronics, trolling motors, guard rails, generators, coolers, and comfortable seats.
Wilson has designed several of his own boats over the years. Cowtown USA is one of Cpt. Wilson’s many sponsors. They work closely together to adapt and design custom features on Wilson’s boats to offer the latest in convenience, function, durability and comfort.
Wilson and his spectacular purple bowfishing boat are easily seen when on the road or the water. Sponsor logos cover the boat from stem to stern, indicating the confidence many companies have in his abilities as a professional bowfishing guide and representative for their products.
Cpt. Wilson drives a ton and a half truck decked out with his company logos as well. Combined with the lengthy boat, he is a traveling billboard, which garners a lot of attention.
“My rig does catch people’s eye,” Wilson said. “Lots of people approach me about booking a trip when I stop for gas or other supplies. Too, I’ve had quite a few people chase me down to quiz me about bowfishing, or to book a trip with me.”
Cpt. Wilson maintains a heavy presence on social media, too. He makes several trips a week, and he posts photos of happy customers on Facebook and Instagram. Look for Stained Water Bowfishing.
You can also see Cpt. Wilson’s results on Cowtown USA’s Facebook page, or go to my Outside Again Adventures Facebook page.
Cpt. Wilson’s bowfishing adventures have been featured in many magazines and newspapers, as well as radio and outdoor tv shows. Most recently he and I created a video for the Branson Convention and Visitor’s Bureau to help promote bowfishing on Lake Taneycomo. Our next venture will include fly fishing for carp, another rapidly growing outdoor pursuit.
I made a recent trip with Cpt. Wilson to lakes Taneycomo and Bull Shoals to capture video of him in action with a family of bowfishing enthusiasts. To say that he attacks each trip with great exuberance is an understatement. Cpt. Wilson is a jovial guy that puts people at ease. Many are first time customers with no bowfishing experience. His patience is eternal as he provides equipment demonstrations and explains what they can expect.
Explanations of a bowfishing adventure doesn’t measure up to the thrill customers feel when they arrow their first fish, according to Wilson. “Oh, when they arrow that first big fish and it goes totally nuts, jumping and thrashing around like a rodeo bull, people are blown away by the sheer power and raw energy of these amazing fish.”
I joined Cpt. Wilson and customers Josh and Mellisa Isaacs and their two children, 13-year-old Riley, and 10-year-old Faith, and 12-year-old nephew, Kason Issacs, on a daytime bowfishing excursion.
The Issacs were an experienced outdoor family and they chattered with excitement as they boarded Wilson’s boat in preparation for a few hours on the water.
It seldom takes long for Cpt. Wilson to locate fish. Taneycomo Lake was about 30 feet high when we were there. Rough fish had scattered into the newly available cover of buckbrush, woods and grassy fields.
Cpt. Wilson had led a highly successful trip the previous week where his customers arrowed over a thousand pounds of carp, buffalo and gar in a few hours. He hoped for similar success this day.
Fish proved scarce in the spots he had found them the previous week, but it didn’t take long to find lots of gar near PowerSite Dam. Cpt. Wilson explained that gar were spawning.
Regardless of the reason, hundreds of gar gathered in the woods near the dam. Rather than loitering on the surface, which makes for really shots, these fish were cruising, and rose to the surface quickly for a gulp of air before going back under. It made for challenging shots.
The Isaacs family enjoyed themselves immensely with the abundant shot opportunities. Although there were many small gar, which were hard to hit, the Isaacs managed to take several gar, two of which were in the 5-foot range.
“It’s hard to imagine the power of a big gar,” Josh Isaacs said, “until you arrow one.”
Cpt. Wilson had led another successful bowfishing trip. We returned to the Forsyth Motel about 1pm, where he worked his phone non-stop booking more trips. We met another group at dusk and began a nighttime trip. We finished up at 2am. I returned to the motel. Cpt. Wilson made the 3-hour drive home to Jerome, reorganized and headed to a tournament at Gasconade City on the Missouri River.
To book a trip with Cpt. Wilson and Stained Water Bowfishing, call 573-263-8016, or look him up on Facebook.