Archive for the ‘Fishing’ Category

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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Tagged catfish will be added to this spring's stockings at Family and Community Fishing Ponds across Arkansas.

Tagged catfish will be added to this spring’s stockings at Family and Community Fishing Ponds across Arkansas.

Tagged catfish stocked across the state
The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission’s Family and Community Fishing Program is continuing their efforts to get families involved in fishing with a tagged catfish campaign. Thousands of channel catfish from the AGFC’s warm-water hatchery facilities are currently being stocked at several locations around the state.
Each of Arkansas’s Family and Community Fishing Program catfish stocking locations have 10 catfish tagged with special Family and Community tags. Anyone that catches a tagged fish will receive prizes. Winners also will be entered into a grand prize drawing for a canoe, two life jackets and paddles. Second prize will be a catfish rod and reel, tackle box loaded with catfishing gear and an assortment of fishing tools. Third prize will be a tackle box with fishing gear and fishing tools.
Family and Community Fisheries Program Coordinator Ben Batten said a similar effort was first organized during spring break of 2012 and was a huge success. “This is the third year for this promotion, and it keeps getting bigger and better every year. The chance at a canoe certainly takes it up a notch,” he noted.
A new canoe will significantly enhance angling opportunities at many of the small to medium-sized lakes, which are rather prevalent near several cities.
Anyone catching a tagged fish from Family and Community locations should send the tags to the AGFC Family and Community Fishing Program, 2 Natural Resources Dr., Little Rock, AR 72205. Include your name, address, phone number, location and date of catch. Only one entry per person. Tag returns must be postmarked by July 3, 2014. Incomplete or illegible information will not be accepted. For more information on the Family and Community Fishing Program, go to http://www.agfc.com/familyfishing.

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A little change in location can save a fortune in fuel costs for anglers and boaters.

A little change in location can save a fortune in fuel costs for anglers and boaters.

As gasoline costs rise, many people ditch their plans for fun in the sun and ride out the summer at home. A few adjustments in habits and maintenance measures can keep the cost of your boating fuel low. Here are a few tips to stay on the water all summer without flatting your wallet:

Go local: Your favorite lake or river might be an hour or two away, but there are fishing opportunities within a 30-minute drive of practically any place in the state. A 30-minute drive becomes a 1 hour round trip, which can cut your gas costs in half.

Small can be sweet: Smaller lakes and rivers are often overlooked by anglers who fish out of bigger boats, but they are gold mines for quantity and quality of fish. Some of Arkansas best big bass opportunities can be found on smaller lakes, such as Lake Atkins and Lake Monticello. The state record bass came from 330-acre Mallard Lake in northeast Arkansas. Plus, they take much less gas to travel from one point to the next once you’re on the water.

Lighten the load: It’s one of easiest things to do to save on gas, and it applies to just about every boat on the water – ski boat, cruiser, sailboat or fishing rig.
Before you leave home, take a good look at what you really need and clear out all that junk under the floorboards, in lockers or in less-used storage areas. And, if the boat is already in in the slip, remember that water weighs over eight pounds per gallon. Carrying more than necessary in freshwater and waste tanks is a waste of money.

Get a tune-up: An annual engine tune-up, whether you do it yourself or ask a marine professional, is a must for any powerboat owner. It’s also likely to save you a fortune in gas money over the course of the boat’s life.

Check the prop: Take your motor’s prop to a marina, dealer or local prop shop to reshape or file away any dings. A well-tuned propeller makes a boat more fuel efficient.

Check trailer tire pressure: Underinflated tires wear quicker and increase the amount of drag on the tow vehicle. Too much tire pressure causes the trailer to bounce, which can cause damage to the boat and tow vehicle’s drive train. Check tire pressure for proper inflation

Cover it up: While on the road, use a tight-fitting cover to reduce wind drag. The cover also helps keep the boat clean and protects it from the weather.

Slow down: You might be in a hurry to get to the lake, but a 5-mile per hour decrease in towing speed will result in a noticeable drop in fuel consumption.

Pay less for gas: Gasoline is going to be cheaper in town than right on the highway exit; boat dock fuel is extremely expensive compared to either. Fill up on the road en route to the lake or river, and you’ll save money.

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The annual Arkansas Hunters Feeding the Hungry bass tournament will be held March 29 at Lake Hamilton in Hot Springs. Click here for details.

The annual Arkansas Hunters Feeding the Hungry bass tournament will be held March 29 at Lake Hamilton in Hot Springs. Click here for details.

The annual Arkansas Hunters Feeding the Hungry bass fishing tournament will be held March 29 at Lake Hamilton near Hot Springs. All proceeds from the tournament go to the organization toward its mission of feeding less fortunate Arkansans while promoting needed harvest of deer in areas where the herd is out of balance.

Prizes include $2,000 for first place, $1,000 for second place, $500 for third place and $250 in merchandise from Zimmerman’s Sport Center for fourth place. The Entry fee is $100 per boat.

For more information, contact Steve Wilson at 501-304-6305 or Ronnie Ritter at 501-282-0006. Tournament sponsors include No-Way Pulpwood, Greeson’s, Zimmerman’s Sports Center, Legacy Printers and Supplies, and Academy Sports and Outdoors.

Entry forms are available at online at www.arkansashunters.org.

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Winter trout stockings will begin Nov. 18. Click the image for locations.

Winter trout stockings will begin Nov. 18. Click the image for locations.

The AGFC Fisheries Division will stock all Family and Community Fishing Program trout locations around the state between Nov. 18-22, just in time for a Thanksgiving weekend trip to the pond. Check the following link for trout stocking locations: http://www.agfc.com/fishing/Pages/FishingProgramsFCFStock.aspx

Each location will also receive some trout with fluorescent pink tags. Anyone catching a tagged fish should keep the fish and call the number on the tag for directions on how to turn their tag in for a special prize from the AGFC.

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Renovations to Horsehead Lake are now complete. Construction on the 63-year-old lake began earlier this summer.

The 100-acre lake was built by the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission in 1950, in partnership with the Ozark National Forest. It has provided decades of fishing for largemouth bass, crappie, catfish, bluegill and red-ear bream.

The lake is in the national forest, and the national forest operates a recreation area on the west side of the lake. A campground, picnic area, playground and restroom facilities are available. This recreation area is closed due to the federal government shutdown.

Repairs to the water-control structure consisted of inserting a 320-foot, 18-inch pipe into the existing 24-inch outlet pipe, then grouting around the inserted pipe. The drawdown tower was filled with concrete and cut off at ground level. The new pipe has a gate valve attached to the downstream end so the gate can be opened below the dam. The control valve is enclosed in a locked steel box.

The lake bottom was sown earlier with sorghum-Sudan grass and later sown with winter wheat. This vegetation will increase the lake’s fertility and provide more food for the fish after it begins  to rot and feed plankton (zooplankton) which is used by sport fish as they develop.

AGFC fisheries personnel placed fish shelters in seven locations. These areas were marked and the GPS coordinates will soon be available on agfc.com. Additional structure has been placed near access areas on the east side of the lake. This area will be usable by bank and boat fishermen.

The lake is now in the process of refilling. Fish will be stocked as soon as there is enough water to access the lake from the boat ramp. Catchable channel catfish will provide fishing opportunities until the fingerling size bass, bream and crappie, which will be stocked next spring, are large enough to harvest. Fish stocked next spring should be large enough to harvest in 3 to 4 years, but sometimes in new or renovated lakes the fish grow much faster. Additional fish structure will be added as time permits.

Large tree stumps that were causing boating hazards were cut off 4 feet below normal water level. The concrete boat ramp also was extended 20 feet. Access at the boat launching area was improved by deepening the shoreline, allowing easier boat docking, cutting shoreline trees to allow more bank fishing area and placement of fish structure within casting distance.  All access area improvements were funded with Marine Fuel Tax monies.

More than 230 tons of agricultural limestone was hauled and dumped in five locations to balance the acidity of the lakebed and make future fertilization more effective.

The U.S. Forest Service painted all swim posts which hold the ropes and buoy lines at their swim beach. The Johnson County Road Department hauled and spread sand purchased by the Forest Service, on the swim beach. A total of 34 dump truck loads of sand were hauled and spread.

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The federal government shutdown is affecting fishing and hunting on U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service National Wildlife Refuges and camping on U.S. Army Corps of Engineers projects in Arkansas. The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission is reminding anglers, hunters, hikers, campers and others that the federal shutdown could change their plans.

AGFC Director Mike Knoedl said the federal government shutdown could influence people’s outdoor recreation plans in Arkansas. “If you’re heading for federal wildlife refuges to scout, hunt or fish, that activity is prohibited,” Knoedl said. “Arkansas Game and Fish Commission lands will remain open and our officers will be on duty,” he added.

USFWS land and facilities are closed due to the lapse in appropriation for 2014. For more information on the shutdown, go to http://www.doi.gov/shutdown/index.cfm.

The Little Rock District, Corps of Engineers is preparing for the closure of all Corps-operated campgrounds and day-use parks, affected recreation areas will not reopen until after the shutdown is lifted. Corps parks leased to partner agencies and concessionaires will remain open, but cannot be supported by the Corps while the shutdown is in place. Campers who are on site prior to the shutdown going into effect will be required to vacate campgrounds not later than 8 p.m. on Oct. 2.

If there is not a resolution before next week, there will be no hunting allowed within the Buffalo National River boundary. That could possibly affect the elk hunt for next week.

Gates to all U.S. Forest Service developed areas will be locked where applicable. However, the forests will remain open to public recreation.

Knoedl said boat ramps may also be closed, which impacts access to Corps lakes. “Closures may include visitor centers and gates on all access points,” he said. Wildlife management areas leased by the AGFC on Corps property will be open and managed by the AGFC. Boat launch ramps inside Corps campgrounds will be inaccessible. All other launch ramps will be open.

Before heading out to your favorite Arkansas Corps lake, go to http://www.usace.army.mil/ or call 501-324-5551 to find out about public access.

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ALERT  Main gate at Henry Gray  Hurricane Lake WMA Closed

The main gate at Mitchell Corner was closed Wednesday, August 14, 2013. The water is over the road in several spots and the White River is forecast to rise to 30.5 feet at Augusta. Water is over 192 msl at the Mitchell Corner gauge. The AGFC’s approved water management plan for Henry Gray Hurricane Lake Wildlife Management Area states all vehicle access is closed at 192 and reopens at 191.5. All WMA road closings can be accessed by calling 1-800-440-1477.

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Swink wins Big Bass Bonanza

Jonathon Swink of DeValls Bluff with 6.63 bass

Jonathon Swink of DeValls Bluff with 6.63 bass

Jonathan Swink, a 28-year-old resident of DeValls Bluff, is leaving the Arkansas River with an extra $50,000, thanks to his day-one 6.63-lb. largemouth bass from the Coal Pile area of the river, 10 miles north of Dumas. Total anglers fishing during the 3-day tournament was 2,014 which was up over last year.

Swink said he had fished the Big Bass Bonanza only once before this year.

“I fished the Pine bluff pool last year,” Swink said, “but I have fished Coal pile a couple of times in club tournaments.”

When he launched the boat on Friday morning, he found a number of other contestants in Coal Pile.

“I went all the way to the back of Coal Pile,” Swink said. “That’s where I caught this fish.”

Swink said the fish hit a pumpkinseed candy-colored jig with a pork chunk trailer.

There was much more prize money to go around after the top fish of the tournament was named. Each angler claiming the top fish in their respective pool also claimed a cool $10,000.

Winners of the other four pools were:
• Martin Arnold, Alma (4.97) – Fort Smith pool
• Larry Gentry, Clarksville (6.05)– Dardanelle/Russellville pool
• Matthew Hamby, Little Rock (6.34)– North Little Rock/Little Rock pool
• Clinton Chandler, Lewisville (5.64) – Pine Bluff pool

Another successful angler was Matthew Hamby of Little Rock. His 6.34-lb. bass brought in Friday was the top fish in the Little Rock pool as well as the Willow Leaf Award of $1,000. This award goes to the top parent-child or grand-parent-grandchild team.

There also were guaranteed prizes for the second, third and fourth place finishers in each pool. Bonus money and hourly payout for the top three fish weighed in at each weigh-in station each hour of the tournament totaled $101,700. In all, more than $200,000 was divvied up among anglers fishing the tournament.

The annual tournament is the result of a 14-year partnership with the Arkansas Hospitality Association and the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission. This tournament spans more than 300 miles of eligible fishing waters on the Arkansas River inside the state’s borders. The grand prize and other cash awards will be presented during Sunday’s award ceremony, at 4 p.m. at the Downtown Riverside RV Park in North Little Rock.

For a photos of the overall winner, tournament and Willow Leaf award winner along with additional information go toArkansasbigbass.com orFacebook.com/ArkansasBigBass.

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The Second Hot Springs Fishing Challenge begins at 6 a.m., May 1, and ends July 31, at 5 p.m. The Challenge provides anglers the opportunity to catch tagged fish that can be redeemed for cash prizes.

This year the total prize money has been increased to $60,000, with one fish, “Big Al the Second,” worth the grand prize of $10,000.

“Our first Fishing Challenge last year was a tremendous success,” said Steve Arrison, CEO of Visit Hot Springs. “Prize-winning fish were caught by men and women, young and old, Arkansans and out-of-state residents. We were frankly surprised by the enthusiasm that the challenge generated and the amount of publicity it generated for Hot Springs as a premier fishing destination.”

Last year, the grand prize fish, nicknamed Big Al, was not caught, Arrison said, “So we hope this year to hand some lucky angler a check for $10,000, in addition to prizes for 52 more tagged fish.”

The contest is open to anyone with a valid Arkansas fishing license. Employees of the Hot Springs Advertising and Promotion Commission, the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission at the Andrew H. Hulsey Fish Hatchery, and their immediate family members, and/or those living in the same household of each are ineligible to win a cash prize.

Fifty-three tagged fish will be released in Lake Hamilton and Lake Catherine. The fish released will be largemouth bass, bluegill, catfish, white bass, crappie and walleye. If a fish is caught the angler must call the number and present the fish with the tag attached.

The fish will be tagged by the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission and released in both lakes by a neutral third party. No one will know the exact location of the release points except for this individual. For additional information call Steve Arrison at 501-321-2027.

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