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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

Apply for an elk hunt permit May 1.

Application period for the 2014 Arkansas Public Land Elk Hunt is May 1-June 1. Click here to apply.

Application period for the 2014 Arkansas Public Land Elk Hunt is May 1-June 1. Click here to apply.

 

If you want to have a chance to bag Arkansas’s largest game animal, then mark May 1 on your calendar. That’s the day the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission open’s up its public elk permit process.

Applications are free, but all applicants 16 or older must have a current Arkansas sportsman hunting license or an Arkansas lifetime hunting license. Applicants also must be at least 6 years old to hunt big game in the state – elk, deer, bear and turkey.

All applications must be made online on the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission’s website.
Three permits will be issued to Arkansas residents who complete applications during the Buffalo River Elk Festival at Jasper in late June. For these, the winners must be present.

For more information and to apply, visit  http://www.agfc.com/licenses/Pages/PermitsSpecialElk.aspx

Deer in Field

Commission sets 2014-15 deer seasons

Deer season dates for the 2014-15 deer hunting season were set at the April 17, 2014 meeting of the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission, held in Little Rock:

Archery

  • All zones: Sept. 27-Feb. 28, 2015.

Private Land Antlerless-Only  Modern Gun Hunt

  • Zones 1, 1A, 2, 3, 6, 6A, 8, 8A, 9, 10, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 16A and 17: Oct. 11-15.

Muzzleloader

  • Zones 1, 1A, 2, 3, 4A, 5A, 6, 6A, 7, 8, 8A, 10, 11, 14 and 15: Oct. 18-26 and Dec. 13-15.
  • Zones 9, 12, 13, 16, 16A and 17: Oct. 18-26 and Dec. 29-31.
  • Zones 4, 4B, 5 and 5B: Closed.

Youth Modern Gun Deer Hunts

  • All zones: Nov. 1-2 and Jan. 3-4, 2015.

Modern Gun

  • Zones 1, 1A, 2, 3, 6, 6A, 7, 8, 8A, 10 and 11: Nov. 8-30 and Dec. 26-28.
  • Zone 4: Nov. 8-9 and Dec. 26-28.
  • Zone 5: Nov. 8-9, Nov. 15-16 and Dec. 26-28.
  • Zones 4A, 5A, 14 and 15: Nov. 8-Dec. 7 and Dec. 26-28.
  • Zones 4B and 5B: Nov. 8-16 and Dec. 26-28.
  • Zones 9, 12 and 13: Nov. 8-Dec. 14 and Dec. 26-28.
  • Zone 16, 16A and 17: Nov. 8-Dec. 28.

The commission also approved the harvest of feral hogs only during bear, deer and elk firearms seasons on certain WMAs. The regulation permits some taking of nuisance feral hogs, without promoting the recreational hunting of feral hogs, on Commission-controlled property.
In other business, the Commission:

  • Authorized AGFC Director Mike Knoedl, on behalf of the AGFC, to enter into an agreement to purchase 42 acres on Highway 7 near Jasper. Purchase price of the property is $250,000. The purchase will go forward after an appraisal and review, environmental analysis, survey, title commitment and other due diligence.
  • Discussed the Cane Creek Lake and Lake Chicot drawdowns and the daily creel limits on the two fisheries.
  • Authorized AGFC Director Mike Knoedl, on behalf of the AGFC, to enter into an agreement to purchase 959 acres adjacent to the Steve N. Wilson Raft Creek Bottoms Wildlife Management Area near Georgetown in White County. Purchase price of the property is $1.8 million. The purchase will go forward after an appraisal and review, environmental analysis, survey, title commitment and other due diligence. The AGFC has secured $1 million through a North American Wetlands Conservation Act grant to begin the acquisition and has a second NAWCA grant in review that would provide the balance of the anticipated purchase price.
  • Reviewed the 2013-14 deer harvest. AGFC Deer Program Coordinator Cory Gray told Commissioners that hunters checked 213,199 deer. The harvest is the second highest on record behind the 2012-13 record of 213,487 deer. Compared to last season, the buck harvest decreased slightly from 110,448 to 105,952 while the doe harvest increased from 103,039 to 107,247.
  • Agreed to execute a quitclaim deed on a 5.72-acre tract of the Gene Rush Buffalo River WMA in Searcy County. A land survey and title search revealed a claim of ownership by Kathryn Rogers superior to AGFC’s interest. The AGFC will quitclaim the land to Rogers. The agency’s title insurance will reimburse the AGFC $2,000 per acre for the loss of the acreage.
  • Honored 35 AGFC employees for their years of service to the agency. The group represented 430 years of experience.
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