Can you Bait Carp for Bowfishing?

If you’ve ever tried bow fishing, you know that baiting is extremely useful for attracting fish to your area. However, baiting and chumming are not allowed everywhere.

Baiting carp for bow fishing involves scattering food such as sweet corn, dog food, hemp seed, or pellets. Baiting carp will help increase the amount of fish that are present in the area. However, baiting is illegal in many states, so it is important to know where baiting for carp is allowed.

Where is baiting illegal? What foods should I use for baiting? Here’s everything you need to know about baiting carp for bow fishing.

What is Baiting?

Baiting, also known as chumming, is the act of scattering food in the water to attract fish to your specific area.

In bowfishing, chumming is used to attract fish to the surface of the water so that the fishers can easily shoot them.

Baiting can be done with artificial ingredients or, in some cases, it is done with fresh meat or other animal parts.

Baiting/chumming is very useful for fishing and can attract a lot of fish.

However, many states ban chumming because of the amount of pollution it creates in the water.

State Regulations on Baiting

Before baiting for carp, it is important to note that baiting/chumming is not legal in all states. Each state has different chumming regulations and rules.

Here is a general list of whether chumming is allowed within each state.

This list, however, does not have the specific regulations for each body of water within the state, protected lands, or distinct rules about chumming within it.

StatesLegal to chum?
California-allowed in all salt waters, but limited in freshwatersYes
Connecticut Yes
Hawaii No
Idaho No
Illinois Yes
Iowa-illegal in tournamentsYes
Kentucky Yes
Maryland Yes
Minnesota-chumming allowed as long as animal parts are not usedYes
Missouri-banned in trout parks, but legal everywhere elseYes
New HampshireYes
New Jersey Yes
New MexicoNo
New York-fish eggs are prohibited to use as chumming baitYes
North Carolina Yes
North DakotaNo
Oklahoma Yes
Oregon No
Rhode Island No
South Carolina Yes
South Dakota No
Utah No
Virginia Yes
Washington Yes
west Virginia Yes

Best Foods for Baiting for Carp

If you live in an area where chumming is legal, there are some food considerations to make before trying to bait for fish.

Baiting for carp is also slightly different than baiting for other kinds of fish.

Some of the best foods to bait for carp are:

Sweet Corn

Sweet corn is one of the best and easiest foods to use for baiting carp.

Sweet corn has a high success rate of attracting fish.

It is also natural bait that won’t harm the environment, and it is easily accessible to most people for a low cost.

The downside is that it is illegal to chum with corn in a lot of different states.

Another issue with corn is that it is highly attractive to a lot of different kinds of fish, so it may make it hard to distinguish and pick out the carp from the throngs of fish swarming the corn.

Hemp Seed

Hemp seeds very easily attract carp, because they resemble small freshwater snails, and they also release oils and acids into the water and fish find that alluring.

This type of bait is universally used and can be easily mixed with other baits, such as tiger nuts.

Dog Food

Dog food is another super popular bait that is used to attract fish. Lots of different kinds of ingredients can be added to dog food to attract fish.

Not only that, but dog food is super cheap to buy and it’s widely available.


Pellets have also been known to attract carp into fishing areas for baiting.

They are super quick and easy to prepare, they work well for ice fishing in the winter because the pellets won’t dissolve, and they release a heavy scent with a high range that will attract lots of fish.

However, there are other methods of bait available that may work better.


Boilies are a boiled paste used as fishing baits. There are floating and sinking boilies.

For bow fishing, you want to opt for the floating boilies to attract fish to the surface and to get a good shot.

Boilies can also be mixed with other baits to generate attraction. However, this type of bait must be stored in a freezer to prevent it from going bad.

Fish Parts/Animal Parts

Some people like to use dead animals and fish parts for chumming because of how pungent the scent is and how well it attracts fish.

However, many states have strict regulations and rules against using animal parts for chumming.

While these foods are good for attracting carp, they are not exclusively of interest for just carp.

These types of food can attract other fish as well, which may make it a problem if you are specifically looking to fish carp.

Bowfishing Regulations

When bow fishing, it is important to follow all the state’s rules and regulations, especially because bow fishing is lethal and the animals that are caught cannot be re-released back into the water.

If you are not allowed to have free-floating bait to use for chum, you can still use bait on a hook to attract animals to your area.

A lot of states that have rules against chumming and releasing bait directly into the water allow for bait to be used if it is confined to a specific hook.

Similarly, some states have super strict regulations when it comes to bow fishing in general, so if you plan on going bow fishing, make sure that you look up all the rules and regulations in your own area.


Colby has been involved in the outdoors for over 30 years. Part of his problem is that instead of focusing on one specific outdoor hobby he spreads his time over a multitude of outdoor adventures. This has provided him the opportunity to have varied experiences across a broad spectrum of outdoor activities. Jack Outdoors has provided him an outlet to share the things he has learned as well as his successes and failures.

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