New Boating Regulations are in effect at many wildlife management areas in response to unsafe boating practices.

New Boating Regulations are in effect at many wildlife management areas in response to unsafe boating practices.

Commissioners with the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission last month approved a regulation requiring all users to sign a permit and have it in their immediate possession while participating in any hunting-, fishing- or boating-related activity on Bayou Meto Wildlife Management Area.

The permit is free and can be found in the AGFC’s 2015-16 Waterfowl Hunting Guidebook. It also is available for download using the following link :

Download General Use Permit

This regulation is one of many in response to concerns involving reckless operation of boats on the WMA.

With the exception of meeting oncoming boats, all boating traffic on the WMA must proceed in single-file with no passing allowed, except when boats have exited the current direction of travel or are no longer under power. All boating traffic on the WMA must maintain a minimum 50 feet (about three-boat lengths) between boats proceeding in the same direction of travel.

Hazardous and negligent boating activity is strictly prohibited and conviction can include points assessed toward revocation of a license and a one-year ban from the WMA where the violation occurred.

In addition to the new boating regulations, new regulations on spinning-wing decoys have been added to Bayou Meto WMA and Dave Donaldson Black River WMA. The regulation states:

It is illegal to attempt to take waterfowl with any electronic, mechanically operated, wind-powered or manually powered apparatus or device that simulates wing movement, including any device that spins one or more fixed- or stationary-winged decoys around a central axis.

Spinning-wing decoys have been banned on Bayou Meto WMA and Dave Donaldson Black River WMA for the 2015-16 waterfowl season.

Spinning-wing decoys have been banned on Bayou Meto WMA and Dave Donaldson Black River WMA for the 2015-16 waterfowl season.


Click the image to take a look at the deer harvest in real time.

Click the image to take a look at the deer harvest in real time.

Bowhunters checked 2,595 deer during opening weekend, Sept. 26-27. The bow opener has been a near mirror image of itself the last three years, with 2,682 deer checked in 2014 and 2,576 deer checked during opening weekend in 2013.

Thanks to the conversion to online and telephone checking, the AGFC is able to offer hunters a look into the harvest across the state as it’s happening. Receiving information faster isn’t just for entertainment, it’s also critical to make decisions on the next year’s deer season before the regulations setting process begins in March each year.

“Checking your deer is easier than ever,” said Keith Stephens, chief of communications for the AGFC. “You can check it online through agfc.com, use our smartphone app, which is available through iTunes and Google Play, or you can call it in using the phone number provided on your license.”

As soon as a deer is checked, the hunting zone, sex and time are uploaded to the system to give viewers real-time results on the deer harvest. Complete results by day, zone, county and sex are available at https://www.ark.org/agfc/gamecheck/reports.php.

Here’s a little video to remind everyone to tell someone you trust where you’ll be hunting.



The perfect stand location isn’t about seeing deer, but getting a safe shot at one. Be sure to inspect any tree where you hang your stand for signs of dead or decaying limbs. Make sure there aren’t any overhanging limbs waiting to fall on you and your stand. For more treestand safety information, visit http://www.agfc.com/education/Pages/TreestandSafety.aspx 


Watch how Arkansas Game and Fish Commission Biologists search for and research one of Arkansas’s oldest fish species. The alligator gar has been found in fossil records dating back 100 million years. These giant gar are becoming less common in The Natural State, and biologists are working to keep the species swimming in Arkansas waters.

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.

Unclaimed WMA deer permits will be sold online beginning 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 popular public hunting areas. Applications for the 2015-16 season were were accepted in June and winners are drawn and notified in mid-July. Once drawn, successful applicants had 4 weeks to pay a $10 processing fee for their permit. Then, all unsuccessful applicants were put back into a pool to redraw for unclaimed permits. Hunters who were successful during the second draw were given two weeks to pay $10 for their second-chance permits.

Even with two drawings, there are still a few unclaimed permits available for hunters who were not successful in either drawing and those who failed to apply in time. The AGFC will offer these unclaimed 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 2015-16 deer season will be available online beginning at 8 a.m., Sept. 8, 2015.

Click here for a list of available permits

Click here to purchase a permit beginning 8 a.m., Sept. 8

The Forrest Wood Cup is coming to Lake Ouachita, August 20-23.

The Forrest Wood Cup is coming to Lake Ouachita, August 20-23.

Fifty of the best bass anglers in the world will converge on Hot Springs, Aug. 20-23, to participate in the Forrest Wood Cup, the championship event for the FLW bass fishing tour. Aside from local amenities for fans and anglers to enjoy, Hot Springs has a lot to offer in the way of its fisheries.

Lake Ouachita boasts more than 970 miles of shoreline from the upper reaches of the Ouachita River to Blakely Mountain Dam. Ravines, islands and creeks add plenty of nooks and crannies for anglers to get away from crowds and find a few hidden gems. More than 40,000 acres of clear, blue surface water cover rocky bluffs, flooded forests of 100-foot tall trees and submerged vegetation.
“A lot of anglers who have fished here before will remember the deep aquatic vegetation,” said Brett Hobbs, district fisheries supervisor for the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission. “But the vegetation saw a large die off about six years ago.”
Hobbs said the vegetation is beginning to come back in some areas, particularly the Rabbittail and Cedar Fourche areas on the north shore of the lake.
“Both of those areas have a pretty good mix of hydrilla and Eurasian water milfoil,” Hobbs said. “Big Blakely Creek on the far northeast side of the lake has a lot of hydrilla and some coontail, as well.”
These aren’t the only possible areas to find vegetation and anglers who locate a patch or two away from the crowd may have found a gold mine.
In addition to all the natural cover and structure, the AGFC worked with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Arkansas Black Bass Coalition to place dozens of brush piles throughout the lake in prime locations to congregate bass, crappie and other sport fish. Anglers can visit www.agfc.com, click the interactive map link to zoom into Ouachita and locate the blue fish attractor icons. GPS coordinates are available to download through the map’s tools icons in the top right corner of the screen.
“Most of those brush piles were cedar trees placed in the North Fork arm and around mid-lake,” Hobbs said. “I fully expect a few tournament fish to come from some of these deeper brush piles.”
How deep is too deep? Hobbs has some advice about that, too.
“I recently completed a dissolved oxygen profile on the lake, and across the lake, once you hit 21 to 22 feet, there isn’t enough dissolved oxygen to sustain many fish,” Hobbs said. “Black basses should be holding near the thermocline, but may be located early in the morning feeding in the shallows or chasing shad at the surface at any time.”
Other than submerged vegetation, the Rabbittail area might have another X-factor for anglers – a little boost of Florida bass genetics. As part of a strategic management plan, Florida-strain largemouths were stocked from 2007 to 2014 in this area of the lake.
“This was something black bass anglers requested,” Hobbs said.
While the jury is still out on whether the stockings will have any effect on Lake Ouachita bass, it’s worthy to note that the first of those stockings are now seven years old.
“It will be interesting to see if we were able to get some of those Florida-strain genes in the bass population at Ouachita,” Hobbs said.
The lake isn’t just an angling paradise, it’s a great destination for wildlife watchers as well. The Lake Ouachita Vista Trail offers 45 miles of mountain biking and hiking paths on the south side of the lake, stretching from a trailhead at Avery Recreation Area below Blakely Mountain Dam. There’s also a special 1.25-mile watchable wildlife loop with an elevated boardwalk that is Americans with Disabilities Act-accessible at Denby Bay. For more information, visit www.lakeouachitavistatrail.com.
Be sure to visit http://www.flwfishing.com/tournaments/2015-08-20-forrest-wood-cup for a list of events scheduled around the Forrest Wood Cup, including what could be the largest FLW fishing expo ever.

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