The 20th annual Muzzy Classic bowfishing tournament will be July 13-14 on Kentucky and Barkley lakes in western Kentucky, attracting bowfishermen from across the country to two of the best lakes for roughfish.

Impoundments on the Tennessee River are renowned for bowfishing opportunities. The Muzzy Classic has been held several times on Guntersville Lake, one of the best in the river chain. Archers heading to Kentucky and Barkley lakes will find miles of shallow water, some with vegetation, channels and hard bottom conducive to mussels preferred by some rough fish, along with deeper areas off the main channel.

The 2019 Muzzy Classic will be headquartered at Lee S. Jones Park in Eddyville, Kentucky.

Bowfishing is a niche area of the bowhunting and archery market, but definitely one to consider for retail sales. Bowfishermen are passionate about their pursuits and gear, from recurve packages such as the Muzzy Vice to strings, arrows, broadheads and boat lights. A boat isn’t necessary, though; some bowfishermen walk around ponds or wade flooded fields and small creeks.

Tournament Format

The primary tournament will be a Big 20 format, in which teams will weigh their heaviest stringer of 20 fish.The Numbers side pot will be for the most fish caught during the tournament.

Roughfish typically targeted during the Classic and other bowfishing events include buffalo, gar, common and grass carp and sometimes catfish. Some states allow or protect different fish; rules and species/limits of legal fish will be announced on the Muzzy Bowfishing Facebook page at a later date.

Competitors can bowfish from Pickwick Dam to Kentucky Dam on Kentucky Lake; Barkley Dam to Cheatham Dam on Barkley Lake; the Tennessee River from Kentucky Dam to the mouth of the Ohio River; and the Cumberland River from Barkley Dam to the mouth of the Ohio River. Marked maps showing the specific boundaries will be available closer to the competition.

One upside for bowfishing on Kentucky and Barkley lakes is the proliferation of Asian carp in the waterways. These leaping, schooling filter feeders have wreaked havoc on the base of the food chain in the lake. State officials are trying different tactics and plans to manage the invasive species. Bowfishing is part of that. While removing Asian carp via bowfishing is minimal, every bit helps.

During the 2018 Muzzy Classic the winning team had 20 fish weighing 698 pounds, good enough for $10,000. Previous tournaments had a 12-hour shooting time, with official final weigh-in on Sunday morning. The final rules and updates on the Muzzy Facebook pagewill have detailed information.

Check out this video of two guys targeting the Asian carp, which jump after being scared by vibrations such as from those of a boat’s outboard engine. It’s challenging but fun.