It all started 10 years ago. I was taking a casual walk around Pandora Pond when I spotted some big kingfish swimming around below the walkway. I spent the next nine years trying to catch them on a rod, with no luck, until last year in August when I picked up a bow. My brother Clint Lincoln was the one who convinced me that we should try to shoot a Kingi rather than hook it; I told him I thought he was dreaming and that they would smoke us, busting us off in seconds and disappearing with our arrow. But, I agreed it would be fun to try.
I had a look online at some bowfishing bows and quickly discovered how expensive they are. “I could make one of those,” I said to Clint. So, I started on an initial prototype design, which was held together by cable ties and Sellotape. It wasn't very effective (to say the least), so I upgraded to alloy pipe and a long bolt to hold it all together. This improvement worked well, and I started small, targeting mullet on a trip to the Coromandel with my mates Shaun Hovell (Beatle), David Ryan, and Adam Hughes. On this trip, I got my eye in, learnt how to get the angles right, and ended up with a good feed of mullet. When we returned to Hawkes Bay together, Clint and I shot some more mullet off the bridge at Pandora Pond and quickly got more and more addicted. We would be down there every chance we got, living by the tides. We saw a lone kingie a couple of times, but it was too far away and we missed by miles. Clint went back to Gizzy, and so I would often drag my kids down with me, or go by myself.
On a Tuesday I was down at the bridge by myself. Lots of people we were walking past and stopping to ask what I was doing. I explained to them that I was trying to shoot a fish, at which point I’d often get eye rolls in return and comments like: "With that thing?!" But there were also some believers who gave me positive encouragement (which was appreciated). About an hour later the cops turned up. They said they had received reports of someone with a weapon, and suspiciously asked me what I was up to. I explained that I was just trying to shoot a fish, and they quickly realised that there was no harm in what I was doing and even waited around for a bit to see if I could get one. Sadly, not on that occasion.
It was that Thursday that it finally happened. It was 6 am and I said to my girlfriend, "You want to come fishing? I’ve seen a really big fish down there." She rolled her eyes at me and asked "What's its name?” I thought about it for a second. “Jeff!" I said. We went out and picked up some burley then headed to the spot. Before I could even get the burley out we saw him. “There he is!” my girlfriend said, “OMG he’s so big and pretty!” I finished putting the burley out and then he swam back around. This was the moment. I lined him up and then let the arrow fly. In a split second, he was dead. Out cold. I was waiting for the fight of my life to start, thinking that I might even have to run down and jump in the water to wrestle him to shore. But no, it was just as if I had shot a log floating by – a deadweight. It would have been a different story if I had shot him in a different spot – an inch either way – but I’d shot him right through the brain. “Sorry baby,” I said to my girlfriend, “I shot Jeff.” I didn't realize how big he was until I got down off the bridge to the water's edge. I tried to pick him up with one hand, but couldn't do it. I carried him back to the truck, usually a one minute walk, and it took me 10 minutes (plus breaks). I put him on the bed of the truck and tried to pull the arrow out, but I realised the whole tip of the arrow was deeply embedded in his skull.
Back at home I was still buzzing, amazed that I’d finally pulled it off. I tried to find some scales but had no luck, so I gave him a measure from the ‘V’ of his tail to his nose – 122cm, good enough for me! I cut him up and then went to work. That day I posted a video of the catch on the Hawkes Bay community page with the caption: "Please don't call the cops on me, I'm just trying to shoot fish.” Now I'm getting heaps of messages asking about my bow setup from people wanting to make their own homemade bowfishing rigs.
By Faran Lincoln