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02212018atipHOT SPRINGS – Anglers looking for the next place to take a fishing trip can narrow their search to some of Arkansas’s best bass waters with a quick visit to the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission’s Black Bass Program web page.

The Black Bass Program works with bass fishing clubs and tournament circuits across the state to gather tournament results throughout the year. The information is then compiled into a single report that ranks bodies of water according to certain criteria.

Percentage of anglers who catch a weighable bass, average weights, number of bass per day, pounds of bass per day and average angler hours to catch a 5-lb. or larger bass are all indicated in the report.

Jeff Buckingham, assistant black bass program coordinator for the AGFC, says the partnership can provide valuable data to both tournament directors and biologists.

“Angler catch data is already being collected by the tournament officials, it’s just a matter of putting it all together,” Buckingham said. “We can use this in addition to the data we gather through our sampling efforts to see some interesting trends.”

Buckingham says one trend that becomes apparent after looking at decades-worth of data is that anglers are getting much better at catching more and bigger bass during tournaments.

“The percent of anglers who weigh-in a bass, weight per angler and overall average weights have increased steadily over the years the program has been in place,” Buckingham said.

The report also offers tournament directors valuable insight on lakes as they build their yearly schedules. Lakes with high average weights and lakes with high angler success typically mean happy anglers, so an obvious approach is to focus on the lakes that rank high in those areas. A little deeper digging in the report also can yield some good information.

“Some tournament directors want to fish on lakes that don’t receive a lot of pressure,” Buckingham said. “All lakes receiving reports, even if it’s only one, are listed in the final report in addition to the top-ranked lakes. From this a director can get an idea of how many tournaments were there.”

The months in which tournaments are held also are ranked, to help directors schedule tournaments during times when catch rates and weights will be highest. Last year, December, February and March scored as the top three months for holding tournaments, while September and October, months when many clubs try to hold championships, scored very poorly.

Buckingham says that participation in the program has grown during the last few years, but there’s room for every bass fishing club in the state to submit their data as well.

“The more data we have, the more complete the information will be,” Buckingham said. “And participating is as simple as filling in a card or an online form with the weights and numbers you’re already writing down to conduct the tournament. You can even enter it right there from your phone.”

Contact Buckingham at Jeffrey.buckingham@agfc.ar.gov, call 877-525-8606 or visit www.agfc.com/atip for more information on how to participate in the Arkansas Tournament Information Program and a list of recent ATIP summary reports.

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Fishing Derbies will be held at each of the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission’s Hatcheries, Saturday, June 13, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.

If you’ve ever wanted to wet a line but didn’t want to spend the money for a fishing license, this weekend is your time to give it a try. By special proclamation of Gov. Asa Hutchinson, anyone, resident or nonresident, may fish without a license or trout stamp from noon, Friday, June 12, to midnight, Sunday, June 14, 2015.

Chris Racey, chief of the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission’s Fisheries Division, said, “It’s an excellent opportunity for friends and family to get together and enjoy the great sport of fishing.”

All other fishing regulations, including daily limits, remain in effect during Free Fishing Weekend. Visit agfc.com for a free download of the 2015 Arkansas Fishing Guidebook

In addition to the license waiver, each AGFC hatchery has reserved special locations for free kids’ fishing derbies from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, June 13. Children 12 and younger may bring their own tackle and bait to their local hatchery to catch and keep up to three fish per child.

“We host kids’ fishing derbies at all five of our state fish hatcheries each year to provide an opportunity for children to catch fish in a fun and safe environment,” Racey said. “We hope many children will catch their first fish at one of our hatchery derbies and go on to become lifelong anglers.”

Click for Hatchery Locations for Free Fishing Weekend Derbies

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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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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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Hunters Feeding the Hungry

The annual Arkansas Hunters Feeding the Hungry team fishing tournament will be held March 16 at DeGray Lake near Arkadelphia. All of the proceeds from the tournament will go to the organization that helps to feed those less fortunate in Arkansas.
Prizes include $2,000 for first place, $1,000 for second place and $500 for third place. 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, Hope Auto, Legacy Printers and Supplies, and Academy Sports and Outdoors. Entry forms are available at online at www.arkansashunters.org.

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Kids from around the country will be on the Arkansas River, Saturday, May 12, for the High School Fishing Championship. The Bass Federation, in partnership with FLW Outdoors, and the North Little Rock Visitors Bureau will be hosting the 2012 Student Angler Federation Arkansas high school fishing state championship. The event will be held Saturday, May 12 on the Arkansas River launching out of the Alltel Ramp in North Little Rock.

The championship is a two person team event for students in grades 9-12. Registration for anglers and their coach, who will provide the boat they compete in, is online at www.HighSchoolFishing.org. Check-in begins at 4:30 p.m. on Friday, May 11, at the Riverside RV Park located just east of the Alltel Ramp, with a mandatory rules briefing starting at 7 p.m. Teams should preregister online or by phone in advance to avoid late registration fees.

“The city of North Little Rock is excited the SAF Arkansas High School Fishing State Championship has returned for a second year,” Sports and Special Events Coordinator at the North Little Rock Visitors Bureau, Shannon Harris, said. “The event has grown since last year, which gives more people the opportunity to know what North Little Rock has to offer. This is great for our city and the entire downtown area.”

Students and parents can go to www.HighSchoolFishing.org for details on the Student Angler Federation and to sign up for the championship. The winning two-person team from each state championship will advance to an FLW Outdoors/TBF High School Fishing Conference Championship held in conjunction with the National Guard FLW College Fishing Conference Championship. Those winners will advance to the FLW Outdoors/TBF High School Fishing National Championship held in conjunction with the National Guard FLW College Fishing National Championship in the spring of 2013.

All SAF members and state championship participants qualify for the largest event in high school fishing, the 2012 High School Fishing World Finals to compete for thousands of dollars in college scholarships and prizes. Each team that qualifies for a conference or national championship will receive a travel allowance to help offset expenses. The national champions will each receive a $5,000 scholarship to use at the university of their choice.

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