May 24, 2017
Randy Zellers Assistant Chief of Communications
Thanks to a proclamation by Gov. Asa Hutchinson, anyone may fish in Arkansas without a fishing license or trout stamp from noon, Friday, June 9, through midnight Sunday night, June 11.
An annual tradition sponsored by the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission and approved by Gov. Asa Hutchinson, Free Fishing Weekend furnishes many citizens and visitors an opportunity to enjoy the amazing angling the Natural State has to offer.
“Free Fishing Weekend is a great time to introduce someone new to angling,” said Chris Racey, chief of the AGFC’s Fisheries Division. “It’s especially good for getting out as a family and enjoying these opportunities we’re so passionate about here at the AGFC.”
Racey says the weekend also is a great time to bring over friends from other states and enjoy some of the angling The Natural State has to offer.
“It’s great for residents and non-residents to meet up and head to a fishing destination,” Racey said. “Trout stamp requirements are waived as well, so our famous trout tailwaters are a great option for people wanting to try their hand at something different.”
In addition to the lifting of the license requirement, the AGFC will host fishing derbies at each of its five hatcheries across the state on Saturday, June 10, for anglers 12 and younger.
“Fishing is never a sure-thing, but this is the one time I can almost guarantee everyone who comes will catch something,” Racey said. “Our hatchery staff take great pride in making these derbies a fun event, and often add a few extra-large bonus fish into the mix to give young anglers some added excitement.”
Racey says all five hatcheries will host derbies, despite recent losses from floods at the Jim Hinkle State Fish Hatchery in Mammoth Spring.
“This is such a big event for us that we went ahead and purchased some larger trout to supplement the pond stocking for this year,” Racey said. “The Spring River is fishing fantastic right now, but for first-time anglers and younger anglers the ponds are a great way to spend a Saturday morning enjoying some fast fishing action.”
Fishing derbies will run from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Each child must be supervised by an adult. Kids may catch and keep up to three catfish (or three trout at the Jim Hinkle Spring River State Fish Hatchery). In addition to fishing fun, participants also will be able to compete in casting contests and win prizes for fish caught.
Contact the hatchery nearest you for details on its derby:
- Andrew Hulsey State Fish Hatchery, Hot Springs, 877-525-8606.
- Charlie Craig State Fish Hatchery, Centerton, 877-795-2470.
- William Donham State Fish Hatchery, Corning, 877-857-3876.
- Joe Hogan State Fish Hatchery, Lonoke, 877-676-6963.
- Jim Hinkle Spring River State Fish Hatchery, Mammoth Spring, 877-625-7521.