May 31, 2023
Randy Zellers Assistant Chief of Communications
LITTLE ROCK — Thanks to a proclamation by Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders, anyone may fish in Arkansas without a fishing license or trout stamp from noon Friday, June 9, through midnight Sunday night, June 11.
AGFC Director Austin Booth read the proclamation at the May 18 meeting of the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission, thanking Gov. Sanders for her continued support of hunters and anglers and their contribution to conservation as well as Arkansas’s economy.
The weekend presents an excellent opportunity for people to try fishing for the first time, or maybe try a new form of fishing, without investing in an Arkansas fishing license or trout stamp.
For anglers who fish primarily Arkansas’s warmwater lakes and rivers, the weekend also provides the opportunity to try out some of Arkansas’s famed coldwater fisheries below the Norfork, Bull Shoals and Greers Ferry dams or the Spring River for trout. The proclamation also applies to residents and nonresidents so that visiting friends and family can join in on the fun.
The biggest events during the weekend of free fishing are expected to be the AGFC’s annual hatchery fishing derbies, being held June 10 at all four of the agency’s warmwater fish hatcheries. These derbies are for youth 18 and younger and their families who would like to fish alongside them.
“We have changed the focus of these derbies to include the family members of those youth in the last few years and the response has been incredible,” J.J. Gladden, assistant chief of education for the AGFC, said. “The best fishing trips are those where people can share the experience with family and friends, and we want to foster that tradition from the first cast of a young angler’s experience.”
People interested in fishing at one of the derbies must register in advance.
“We want to provide a great experience for the anglers who are registered, but the hatchery ponds can only have so many guests before they become crowded or cause possible safety issues,” Gladden said. “So we have to have a limit to the number of participants. The required registration will ensure all anglers arrive with the best chance at having a memory of a lifetime.”
Visit the links below to register for one of the AGFC’s hatchery derbies:
- Joe Hogan State Fish Hatchery (Lonoke) Fishing Derby
- Andrew Hulsey State Fish Hatchery (Hot Springs) Fishing Derby
- William H. Donham State Fish Hatchery (Corning) Fishing Derby
- Charlie Craig State Fish Hatchery (Centerton) Fishing Derby
In addition to the hatchery derbies, the AGFC also has provided catchable-sized catfish in nearly 50 Family and Community Fishing Program locations and an additional 25 fishing derbies being supported by local communities on June 10. Details for each of those derbies is available through www.agfc.com/freefishing.
Young Family at Derby
Four of the AGFC’s fish hatcheries will host fishing derbies June 10.
Pair of Anglers with Catfish
Plenty of fish will be stocked in the hatchery ponds for Free Fishing Weekend.
Family holding Stringer of Catfish
Visit www.agfc.com/freefishing for a lineup of family-oriented events during Free Fishing Weekend.