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Leftover WMA permits for sale online beginning at 8 a.m., Sept. 8.

Leftover WMA permits for sale online beginning at 8 a.m., Sept. 8.

Each year, the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission holds a drawing for the opportunity to hunt certain wildlife management areas to prevent overcrowding and manage the harvest on our public land.  Applications are accepted in June and winners are drawn and notified in mid-July. Successful applicants are given three weeks to pay a $10 processing fee for their permit. This fee helps offset the cost of the drawing that is conducted by a third-party vendor and helps gain a commitment from permit winners.

Many permits remain unclaimed after the payment period, some of which are available at some of the AGFC’s most popular hunts. The AGFC offers these leftover permits on a first-come, first-served basis though an online sale. Each permit costs $10 (the same cost as the original processing fee). There is no limit to the number of extra permits a person may purchase, but permits may only be purchased one-at-a-time. Purchases may only be completed using a credit card. Permits for the 2014-15 deer season will be available online beginning at 8 a.m., Sept. 8, 2014.

Click here for a list of available permits

Click here to purchase a permit beginning Sept. 8

ALERT Dove Season Opens Sept. 6

Dove season opens Sept. 6, 2014. Click the picture for details.

Dove season opens Sept. 6, 2014. Click the picture for details.

Arkansas’s Dove season opens Sept. 6 this year, kicking off the 2014-15 hunting season. As we get close to that grand day of shooting birds in the field and shooting the bull at the tailgate cookout, the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission has put together a few reminders to help you stay safe and stay legal while you’re knocking the rust off your shooting skills:

  1. Double-check the date: Federal frameworks will not allow states to open dove season before Sept. 1 each year. The AGFC chose to open Sept. 6 to let hunters enjoy a full opening weekend of dove hunting instead of opening on Labor Day, a Monday.
  2. Be sure your licenses are up-to-date: Migratory bird stamps are not required to hunt doves, but hunters must have a valid hunting license and a valid HIP registration before hunting. Visit www.agfc.com/licenses/Pages/LicensesBuy.aspx to learn the many ways to purchase an Arkansas hunting license.
  3. Check your shotgun to make sure it can hold no more than three shells (including the shell in the chamber).
  4. Make sure to check your dove fields for evidence of baiting and ask the operator or landowner if the area has been baited. A baited field may not be hunted until after 10 days following the complete removal of all bait. Visit www.agfc.com/hunting/Documents/DoveBrochure.pdf to download a brochure detailing all the regulations pertaining to baiting for dove fields.
  5. Try to meet with all hunters using the field before heading out, so that you will be aware of everyone’s location.
  6. Be sure to bring extra water to stay hydrated in the late summer heat that comes with dove season. If you plan to bring a dog to help retrieve downed birds, bring twice as much as you think you’ll need.
  7. Be sure to bring plenty of shells. Dove hunting offers some of the most challenging wing-shooting of the season.
  8. If you’re still looking for a place to hunt, the AGFC has a few managed dove fields throughout the state worth looking into. Visit www.agfc.com/hunting/Pages/PublicDoveFields.aspx to find a dove field near you.

Fishing derby to benefit Mayflower tornado victims

The AGFC and "Tackle the Storm" will be working Sunday, July 27 from 9 a.m. until 1 p.m., helping anglers put the Mayflower tornado behind them.

The AGFC and “Tackle the Storm” will be working Sunday, July 27 from 9 a.m. until 1 p.m., helping anglers put the Mayflower tornado behind them.

The April 27 tornado devastated Mayflower and Vilonia and stripped many residents of their homes and belongings. Three months later, the non-profit Tackle the Storm Foundation seeks to give a little something back to Arkansans who were affected by the storm.

Tackle the Storm, a charity spawned in the wake of devastating tornadoes in Joplin, Mo., and Tuscaloosa, Ala., in 2011, will be at the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission’s Dr. James E. Moore Camp Robinson Firing Range 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Sunday, July 27 to give away fishing tackle to children and families who lost belongings in the tornado.

The AGFC will stock catfish in the firing range ponds at 524 Clinton Rd., and participants will be able to use their new fishing tackle to catch the fish. Lunch also will be served.

Tackle the Storm seeks to ease the burden of storm-affected children and families by awarding free fishing poles, or as the foundation calls them, “the magic wands of childhood.” The foundation’s mission is to help tornado victims use fishing to escape the destruction and sadness that follows catastrophic natural disasters.

For more information, contact Jim Alexander at 501-269-1368.

Catalpa worms can strip a catalpa tree of its leaves, so taking a few for fish bait can be a small relief for your shade trees. Photo by Joe Pase III, bugwood.org

Catalpa worms can strip a catalpa tree of its leaves, so taking a few for fish bait can be a small relief for your shade trees. Photo by Joe Pase III, bugwood.org

Two words can help Arkansas anglers shake off the mid-summer fishing blues: catalpa worm.

Often called “catawba worms” or “cataba worms,” these little crawlers are readily available around any catalpa tree and are dynamite lures for bream, catfish and even the occasional bass.

To use catalpa worms for fishing, you need to find catalpa trees. Once you know what to look for, these trees stand out like a sore thumb. They are commonly found close to rivers and wet areas, but have been planted in urban yards as well. They have large, heart-shaped leaves that grow thick and provide excellent shade. In spring, they’ll have large, showy white or yellow flowers, and in summer, they’ll be covered in long bean pods resembling green beans.

Catalpa trees are identified by large, heart-shaped leaves and long seed pods. Photo by John M. Randall, The Nature Conservancy, Bugwood.org

Catalpa trees are identified by large, heart-shaped leaves and long seed pods. Photo by John M. Randall, The Nature Conservancy, Bugwood.org

Catalpa worms actually are the caterpillar form of a large moth called a catalpa sphinx moth.  They typically have pale green to leaf green undersides with a band of black across their backs that can be hollow to nearly solid. They also have a single spiny horn that juts out from their rear, much like the hornworms that torment tomato growers.

Collect a couple dozen catalpa worms in a coffee can and get the rod or pole ready. Most anglers who use catalpa worms say it’s the bright green juice inside that attracts fish so well. Cutting the worm into small chunks is preferred by bream anglers, while those chasing catfish typically cut a slice in the worm then leave it whole on the hook. Some cut the worm in half and turn each half inside out to expose as much of the insides as possible.

Catalpa worms can be preserved in an air-tight container with cornmeal inside the freezer. When the container is opened and the worms are removed from the meal, they thaw and become active and as effective in catching fish as ever. Just be sure to label the container so family members don’t get a nasty surprise when searching for a popsicle during these hot summer days.

Catalpa worms make an ideal bait for cane pole anglers looking for bream and catfish. Photo by Mike Wintroath.

Catalpa worms make an ideal bait for cane pole anglers looking for bream and catfish. Photo by Mike Wintroath.

Fawns that look alone often have a mother nearby waiting for you to leave.

Fawns that look alone often have a mother nearby waiting for you to leave.

The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission continues to get calls about people in Arkansas are finding newborn wildlife. The state is blessed with an abundance of wildlife and their offspring.

Throughout spring and summer, it is not uncommon to come across unattended baby wild animals. Many people discover what they feel to be lost or abandoned wildlife young and take them in, thinking they are doing the right thing.

This always does more harm than good, said AGFC deer biologist Ralph Meeker. “We get quite a few calls about people thinking fawns have been abandoned by their mothers. Early in life, fawns lay very still so as not to attract predators (like well-intentioned humans), and are frequently mistaken for being in distress or abandoned,” Meeker explained.

“More often than not, their mothers are usually within hearing or visual range,” he added. In addition to being removed from their mother’s care, many people try to care for these fawns, which is illegal under the Arkansas Game and Fish Code of Regulations as of July 1, 2012.

Wildlife are just that, wild. If you feel that a fawn is in immediate danger by laying in or very near a road or in the path of haying equipment, pick it up and move it over a few feet. However, you should never remove it from the immediate area. The mother will periodically check on her young. Meeker says most wild animals don’t spend very much time at their young’s side in order to not attract predators to the area. “Bottom line; just leave them alone,” he said. “Allow them to be wildlife. If you remove them from the wild they cease to be just that.”

During its regular monthly meeting last week, the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission agreed to a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers proposal to transfer 2,355 acres of Clay County land in the St. Francis River Basin to the agency. Commissioners authorized AGFC Director Mike Knoedl to sign the Quitclaim Deed for transfer to the agency.

In the future, the Corps will transfer an additional 10,293 acres in Craighead, Greene and Poinsett counties to the AGFC. The Corps originally acquired the land along the St. Francis River as part of the St. Francis River Basin flood control feature of the Mississippi River and its tributaries. For more than 25 years, the AGFC has been managing the Corps-owned land as part of the St. Francis Sunken Lands WMA and the Dave Donaldson Black River WMA.

In other business, the Commission:

  •  Accepted a proclamation by Gov. Mike Beebe to start free fishing weekend at noon, June 6, and end at midnight, June 8. Licenses will not be required for fishing in Arkansas during that period.
  • Approved the grant of game law conviction fines, for Fiscal Year 2013, to the county where it was collected. A total of just over $632,000 was collected.
  • Honored Marilyn Doran as the Project WILD Facilitator of the Year for Arkansas.
  • Approved a budget increase of $147,000 to develop the AGFC’s Delta Heritage Trail in Desha County.
  • Approved reduced daily creel limits on Lake Chicot and Cane Creek Lake during their drawdown period.
  • Approved renaming a Kings River access after long-time local river guide J.D. Fletcher. The access will now be called the J.D. Fletcher Kings River Highway 62 Access. The access is in Carroll County.
  • Denied an application from the Spring Valley Anglers Rod and Gun Club requesting a permit to privately stock trout in a six-mile segment of Spavinaw Creek in Benton County.
  • Approved a $488,500 budget transfer to acquire a 120-acre tract from Robert L. Hixson Jr. The land will become part of Bayou Meto Wildlife Management Area. Approved a budget transfer of $62,000 to be used to upgrade the video surveillance system of the AGFC central office in Little Rock.
Changes to Arkansas's fishing regulations have been proposed for public comment. Click the image to take the survey.

Changes to Arkansas’s fishing regulations have been proposed for public comment. Click the image to take the survey.

 

The Fisheries Division of the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission recently announced their proposed changes to fishing regulations to take effect Jan. 1, 2015. These proposals are open for public comment until June 8, 2014. They will then be reviewed, amended and submitted to the Commission in its June Commission meeting, and voted on during the Commission’s July meeting.

Topics for consideration include:

  • Adding a 10-inch minimum length for crappie on Craig D. Campbell Lake Conway Reservoir
  • Replacing the 20/30 crappie daily limit map with a statewide 30-crappie daily limit (except on certain waters)
  • Replacing the 13-inch to 16-inch slot limit on largemouth bass in DeGray Lake with a 13-inch minimum length limit.
  • Reducing the daily limit on black bass (largemouth, smallmouth and spotted combined) from 10 to 6 on DeGray Lake.

To review all proposals and the reasoning behind them, and to make a comment on each, please visit http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/2015FishRegs

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