South Dakota Boy Sets Youth Bowfishing World Record With Monster Chinook Salmon

by Matthew Memrick

 A 10-year-old South Dakota boy’s first-ever chinook salmon set a youth bowfishing world record in October.

Bentley Drew caught a 10-pound, 7-ounce chinook in the Missouri River just 15 miles north of state capital Pierre.

According to Field and Stream, Drew landed the 29.5-inch fish on Oct. 30, but recently the Bowfishing Association of America as the youth world record.    

Bentley’s dad, Dustin, told the Pierre Capital-Journal that his son is “getting pretty big into the bowfishing sport with me.” He’s pretty proud of the boy’s youth bowfishing world record.

Dustin told the newspaper that his son’s draw weight is “barely enough to stick the fish.” Dustin Drew added that if his son doesn’t get a solid hit, the arrow will pull out of the fish.

Bentley’s not a novice to the sport. He’s shot gar, carp, shad, and catfish, but that salmon was his first. Dad watched Bentley shoot, reel, and get the fish onshore by himself.

“The first one he ever got was a gar, which shocked us all because those are like pencils in the water,” Dustin Drew said.

Like Father, Like Son

How did Bentley get into bowfishing? Dad, of course.

“I saw my dad, so I wanted to try it,” Bentley said.

Bentley’s got his preferences too. He’s to have a bow with 25-pound draw weight. The boy is also a hook-and-line bow fisher because it’s more active. He told the newspaper it’s more like hunting than real fishing.

The youth bowfishing world record isn’t enough for the 10-year-old. Bentley Drew told the newspaper he wants even bigger fish, but he’ll have to wait for the right season.

Dustin Drew told the newspaper that roughfish would be his son’s best bet. But the salmon may be trickier with its two-month window for Bentley to break his youth bowfishing world record. The father said he’d have to find a salmon spawning close to shore. 

The Drews typically bowfish on a boat but sometimes do the shore thing

Bentley’s Catch A Rare Missouri River Find

The dammed upper Missouri River has become a haven for these salmon. Decades ago, they were introduced to the cold water and stuck in reservoirs like Oahe.

South Dakota collects more than a million Chinook eggs in state-wide hatcheries. State officials then stock about 400,000 in Lake Oahe each year. On an exciting note, if the program stopped, the chinook population would disappear within a decade.

Lake Oahe is one of a few states that allow bowfishing on certain waterways and seasons. While Brantley holds the youth bowfishing world record, Pierre resident Kyle Manning caught the world chinook record. Manning got a 17.44-pound catch days before Drew. The Oct. 14 fish measured 36 inches long with a 21.25-inch girth.