Jan. 6, 2021
Randy Zellers Assistant Chief of Communications
LITTLE ROCK — The latest editions of the Arkansas Fishing Guidebook and Arkansas Trout Fishing Guidebook are en route to sporting goods stores and license vendors across the state, and people looking to get the digital version for their computer or smartphone can download their own copy today at www.agfc.com/en/resources/regulations/guidebooks.
The 2021 fishing season sees a slew of changes for anglers, and while a few may be more restrictive because of biological concerns, the vast majority of changes are simplifications or elimination of previous regulations.
Chris Racey, deputy director of the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission, says the simplifications are the result of many hours of work within the Fisheries Division as well as a larger committee of AGFC staff who looked at areas where regulations had become outdated or become a roadblock to responsibly enjoying the resource.
“We know we have many anglers who have either just taken up fishing or have come back to fishing in the last year, and we also have heard from existing anglers about some of the regulations that have become overly complex,” Racey said. “Our job is to manage the natural resources through science, but we also need to balance the regulations so that the public can understand and enjoy that resource.”
Some of the regulations introduced this year also are the result of new opportunities being explored in Arkansas’s fisheries. A new catch-and-release rule on smallmouth bass at Lake Catherine is part of an effort to establish a smallmouth population on this reservoir. A new regulation to restrict anglers to only one tiger trout with a minimum length of 24 inches was introduced on Bull Shoals and Norfork Lake tailwaters because this species (a cross between the brown trout and brook trout) is being stocked in these tailwaters as a new trophy opportunity for coldwater anglers as well.
“As an angler, I can understand how someone may be a bit overwhelmed by the size of the ‘New This Year’ section of this year’s guidebooks, but if you sit down and read what some of these changes are, you’ll see that nearly all of the changes are ways we are trying to make things easier for the angler to understand and enjoy the resource,” Racey said.
This is only the first step in the process.
“We still have a significantly large codebook," Racey said. "We need to constantly look at how we can still manage with science and the best interest of the resource, but do so in a way that is easier for the hunter and angler to understand.”
Changes to this year’s fishing guidebooks include:
- The number of free-floating fishing devices and yo-yo’s allowed have both been changed to 25.
- Crappie shorter than 10 inches must be released immediately on Lake Dardanelle.
- The daily limit for crappie on Blue Mountain Lake changed to 20 per day.
- All boat plugs must be removed before leaving the loading area to prevent the spread of invasive species.
- Trotlines and limblines must be checked every 48 hours and removed when not in use.
- Catch-and-release restrictions for smallmouth bass on Lake Ouachita have been removed.
- Anglers may keep an additional 10 spotted bass over the daily limit on Lake Ouachita, Lake DeGray and Lake Greeson.
- Anglers may keep an additional 10 channel catfish of any size over the daily limit on the Arkansas River.
- The special creel limit for Striped Bass and Hybrid Striped Bass on Bull Shoals Lake has been removed.
- There is no daily limit for white bass on Bob Kidd Lake and Greers Ferry Lake.
- There is no daily limit for channel catfish on Lake Erling.
- There is no daily limit for crappie on Lake Frierson and Lake Hogue.
- Spearfishing for black bass is now permitted on Millwood, DeQueen, Dierks and Gillham lakes.
- The minimum length limit for largemouth bass on Greers Ferry Lake has been reduced from 15 inches to 12 inches.
- Walleye must be 14 inches long to keep on Greers Ferry Lake.
- Anglers may keep 10 largemouth bass per day at Lake Atkins.
- Possession limits changed from twice the daily limit to triple the daily limit.
- An Alligator Gar Permit is no longer required for alligator gar fishing (A trophy alligator gar tag is still required to harvest an alligator gar over 36 inches long).
- Catch-and-release restrictions on Lake June have been removed for largemouth bass.
- Statewide creel limits have been implemented for bream and crappie on Lake June.
- Slot limit on Lower White Oak Lake for largemouth bass has been replaced with a length limit of one fish over 21 inches.
- Black bass creel limit now matches statewide regulations on DeQueen Lake.
- Smallmouth bass must be released immediately on Lake Catherine.
- Big Lake length limit for largemouth bass has been removed.
- One Tiger Trout over 24 inches may be kept on the Bull Shoals Tailwater and Norfork Tailwater.
- Restrictions on dragging chains on the Norfork Tailwater has been removed.
- All special regulations on the Spring River for cutthroat trout and brook trout have been removed.
- No restrictions of common carp used for bait on Lake Fayetteville.
- Bullfrogs may be taken with any archery equipment as well as by hand, hook-and-line or gig.
- Rough fish gigging is permitted year-round.