Sept. 9, 2020
Randy Zellers Assistant Chief of Communications
LITTLE ROCK – The coronavirus pandemic delayed the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission’s Family and Community Fishing Program’s annual late spring and early summer catfish tagging promotion, but the project is getting a reprieve as fall arrives.
Tagged catfish will be stocked in the nearly 50 FCFP’s community ponds around Arkansas in the coming days, just in time for both Arkansas Hunting and Fishing Week, proclaimed by Gov. Asa Hutchinson for the week of Sept. 19-26, and National Hunting and Fishing Day on Sept. 26. Each pond will have 10 tagged catfish with fluorescent green tags. Anyone catching a tagged fish should call the phone number on the tag for information where to mail in the tag, along with their personal information. Meanwhile, they should keep the tablefare-size catfish for dinner.
“These fish are ready for the grill and the frying pan, whichever you choose,” said Maurice Jackson, the coordinator of the Family and Community Fishing Program.
The promotion begins Sept. 15, and tags must be sent in with a postmark of no later than Oct. 31 to be eligible for a prize. On Nov. 5, a drawing will be held on Facebook Live at 10 a.m. on the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission’s Facebook page. Three people will be chosen among all the tags returned for the grand prizes: a half-day guided fishing trip on Beaver Lake with JT Crappie Guide Services. The three prizes are courtesy of the guide company, which specializes in crappie, bluegill, white bass and black bass fishing, and the Arkansas Game and Fish Foundation.
But, Jackson adds, all anglers returning the tags will receive a prize of fishing tackle.
“We did not tag our catfish like we normally do in May because of COVID,” Jackson said. “We didn’t know how that was going to go. So we postponed the tagging until the fall. We normally stock our program ponds with catfish now anyway, this being the usual last month for catfish stocking. The added bonus will be the tagged fish.”
With nine ponds added to the FCFP roster in the past year, bringing the total fishing locales to 47, Jackson said, “We’re going to stock more ponds than we ever have. All get tagged fish, 10 tagged fish per pond, plus lots more catfish. With almost 50 ponds and with 52 weeks in a year, a person can fish one pond a week for a full year of fishing enjoyment.”
For a list of Family and Community Fishing Program ponds, visit www.agfc.com/en/fishing/where-fish/family-and-community/stocking. FCFP ponds have a limit of three catfish a day, and some of the ponds have specific regulations such as only allowing persons age 15 or younger and 65 and older, or holders of a disability license, to fish (properly licensed individuals 16-64 years old may assist and fish with someone who is a youth or disabled and is actively fishing at those restricted locations). At all ponds, individuals 16 and older must have an Arkansas fishing license. Lakes are opened to electric trolling motors only.
All FCFP ponds also will be getting 50 percent more catfish than their usual September stocking thanks to thousands of “leftover” catfish made available by the AGFC hatcheries. Read more about many other community ponds being stocked with extra catfish this month.
In the event that anglers who catch the tagged catfish cannot reach the number listed, Jackson said, the tags should should be mailed to: Arkansas Game and Fish Commission Family and Community Fishing Program, 2 Natural Resources Drive, Little Rock, AR 72205.