Sept. 5, 2018
Randy Zellers Assistant Chief of Communications
LITTLE ROCK - September 15 through 22 is Arkansas Hunting and Fishing Week, and there’s no better way to kick off the week-long celebration of the outdoors than one of the largest fishing events of the year at MacArthur Park in Little Rock.
The Big Catch is a partnership with Community First Alliance, Inc. and the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission to provide a full day of fun related to the outdoors, absolutely free.
MacArthur Park Pond will be stocked with hundreds of hungry catfish for a fishing derby beginning 8 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 15. The derby will last until 1 p.m., with everyone in the family eligible to fish. Anyone 16 and older will need to have a valid Arkansas fishing license (youths under 16 do not need a fishing license in Arkansas).
Maurice Jackson, Family and Community Fishing Program coordinator for the AGFC, says in addition to a pond teeming with catfish, the outdoor event will feature archery and BB gun ranges, fish-cleaning and cooking demonstrations and a community health fair. Free food also will be served at lunchtime.
“We have more than 30 vendors registered to have booths at the event,” Jackson said. “The fishing is at the center of the event, but there are all sorts of activities and things for the whole family to enjoy.”
Jackson says this is the fourth year of the Big Catch partnership, and attendance has grown with every event.
“We had about 4,000 people show up throughout the day last year, and expect that same number or more this time.” Jackson said. “We’ll have more than 100 staff and volunteers on hand to help people get out and get involved in the outdoors.”
The Big Catch also marks the beginning of fall catfish stockings at all Family and Community Fishing Program Ponds.
“We hold off on stocking catfish during July and August each year because of the heat,” Jackson said. “We can have a lot of fish die during delivery if we try to load them in stocking trucks during the heat of summer, and anglers are not as active with the sun beating down. We concentrate our efforts during those times when the fish are healthy and anglers are ready to enjoy a day by the water.”
The AGFC also will host a special fishing clinic beforehand at the Witt Stephens Jr. Central Arkansas Nature Center. Beginning at 6 p.m., Thursday, Sept. 13, AGFC staff will give instructions on how to cast, tie knots and choose the right baits to catch fish during the derby.
“We want people to come to the fishing derby ready to catch some fish and have a good time,” said Clint Coleman, assistant FCFP coordinator. “Knowing the basics ahead of time will let you focus on all the fun we’re going to have at the event.”
The workshop also is free, but registration is required. Register for both events online at www.c1a.life.