It’s Almost Time for the 21st Annual Canyon Ferry Carp Safari
By angelamontana

Posted: May 30, 2024
The Montana Bowhunters Association will host the 21st Annual Canyon Ferry Carp Safari on June 8th, 2024 on Canyon Ferry Lake, east of Helena. The competition runs from first light until 5:00 pm, with prizes to be awarded for largest fish, smallest fish, and most fish (by count) in youth and adult categories. Hamburgers, chips and beverages will be available after the shoot for registered participants and spectators. The prizes are great, the camping’s great and you can’t find a better way to spend a summer weekend!

The pre-registration entry fees are as follows: $50 per 2-person team, $25 per adult individual, and $10 per under-15 individual. Fees increase on the day of the shoot to: $60 per 2-person team and $30 per adult individual. The meal is included in shooters’ registration fees, and meal tickets for spectators can be purchased for $8.00.

Or register online HERE

What equipment do I need to participate?

  • MT fishing license. MT Fishing Regulations
  • Bow – For the beginner, any bow will do. You can use any bow that you are comfortable with. Most people prefer not to use their hunting bow as bowfishing requires a somewhat different setup. A short, light weight bow with a 50 lb or less draw weight is ideal for bowfishing, and 40 lbs. is more than adequate for Canyon Ferry carp! Traditional bows are very popular in bowfishing, and are easily rigged with several different types of reels. Junior bows are great, too, because of the size and weight.
  • Screw-on or tape-on fishing reel with nylon string.
  • Fiberglass fishing arrows work best. Get arrows without vanes or fletch – fletching can cause problems by spinning the arrow and causing the line to twist, which results in line control problems. Two or three arrows are enough, but you may want more fish points, in case you break them on rocks. Quick-release points are a good idea. Ensure your arrows are equipped with safety slides (see warning below).
  • Boat (optional) – if you bring one, it must have current registration and be equipped with life jackets.

Where can I purchase equipment?

Local sports stores will often have equipment available. There are a number of sites on-line which sell equipment. Some of these include:

What time can I start bowfishing on Saturday? When is weigh-in?

Since the Carp Safari is primarily designed as a fun shoot rather than a strict competition, preregistered shooters can begin bowfishing at first light. Weigh-in is set for 5:00 pm. This cut-off will be strictly observed so we can finish the weigh-in, tally scores, and prepare for the awards ceremony at 6:30 pm.

What camping is available near the shoot?

You’ll need to arrange your own camping reservations, you can reserve sites in or near the Hellgate Campground online at:

Hellgate Campground

Hellgate Campground consists of 69 campsites and 3 Group Use shelters with overnight Camping. Each standard campsite consists of a gravel camping pad, picnic table, and a fire ring. Campsites are limited to one camping unit is permitted per site unless marked as a doublle campsite. (double campsites are clearly marked on the site posts). Hellgate Boat Ramp and Day Use Area provides two boat ramps, parking area for boat trailers and several day use picnic sites.

There are three Group Use Shelter Areas:

  • Lewis and Clark Group Use Shelter Includes 15 campsites. Each campsites has a fire ring and picnic table. The shelter is 30’ X 60’ with 12 picnic tables, 3 grills, and 2 group use fire rings. 3 vault toilets are easily accessible.
  • York Group Use Shelter Includes 10 campsites. Each campsites has a fire ring and picnic table. The Shelter is 30’ X 60’ and contains 12 picnic tables, and 1 large communal fire ring. 1 vault toilet is easily accessible. (Formerly called Shelter B)
  • Hellgate Bay Group Use Shelter Includes 5 campsites. Each with a fire ring and picnic table. The shelter is 30’ X 36’ and contains 7 picnic tables and 2 grills. and 1 large communal fire ring near the shelter.

Again, the MBA is not reserving camping sites. Camping is first come first serve. We recommend to reserve sites online by visiting RECREATION.GOV or for general campground inquiries, call the Canyon Ferry Bureau of Reclamation Office: (406) 475-3921

What other activities are planned for the Safari?

Evening activities will consist of the meal, awards ceremony, and fellowship with other bow hunters around any number of campfires. In the event of weather unfavorable for carp fishing, we will have 3-D carp targets set up in the bay.

Aquatic Invasive Species and Boat Inspection Info

CLICK HERE for more information regarding AIS information and prevention.


Bow fishing is great fun, but like all hunting, safety is a must! Arrow snap-back can cause serious injury or death. Snap-back can occur when line is tied to tail of arrow. Visit AMS’s website for an explanation of how it occurs and how it can be prevented:

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