March 10, 2021
Randy Zellers Assistant Chief of Communications
HOT 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 through the Arkansas Tournament Information Program. 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. In 2020, the average first-place weight was added for tournament directors to view and make future fishing destination decisions.
The program also offers valuable data to biologists which can be compared to scientifically collected biological data to recognize trends in angling in relationship to trends in fisheries. One such trend is the ability of anglers to catch more and bigger bass during tournaments as knowledge and technology have increased. The percent of anglers who weigh-in a bass, weight per angler and overall average weights have increased steadily since the program has been in place. Last year, however, there was a slight decline in those trends, but not enough to cause alarm.
Last spring, many bass-fishing clubs canceled their tournaments in response to COVID-19. While the AGFC did not close any boat ramps in response to the pandemic, some local and federal owners of waters in Arkansas did restrict the use of facilities and prevent gatherings, including bass tournaments. Most of these closures occurred in March-June, the heart of Arkansas’s bass tournament season.
According to the report, 51 tournament groups participated in the program in 2020, turning in weigh-in information on 31 bodies of water. This was down from 70 tournament groups participating in 2019.
Contact the AGFC Black Bass Program Biologist Jeff Buckingham at firstname.lastname@example.org, 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.