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‘Big Catch’ fishing derby and clinic returns for third year

BY Randy Zellers

ON 04-17-2018


April 17, 2018

Randy Zellers

Assistant Chief of Communications

LITTLE ROCK – The largest community fishing event in Arkansas kicks off at 9 a.m. Saturday, April 21, at MacArthur Park in Little Rock, and it’s absolutely free. Join the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission’s Family and Community Fishing Program and Community First Alliance, Inc. at this spring’s “Big Catch” day of fun, food, fishing and prizes for the entire family.

In addition to a pond stocked with keeper-sized catfish, families can enjoy archery and BB gun shooting, compliments of the AGFC. Prizes will be given out for fish caught during the event, and the first 200 kids 12 and under to register will receive a grab bag when they arrive. 

“The Arkansas Travelers will be there, and participants can win free Travelers tickets while they’re there,” said Maurice Jackson, FCFP coordinator for the AGFC. “We’ll also give out gift cards for groceries, thanks to the (Edwards) Food Giant in Otter Creek.”

Free health screenings will be offered, and the Pulaski Tech Culinary School will be on hand to show participants how to clean and cook the fish they catch at the derby to enjoy a healthy fish dinner. 

“The fish you catch at a FCFP derby are the same quality you’d buy at the store, and there’s just something special about cooking your own catch that makes it taste a little sweeter,” Jackson said.

Hunters Feeding the Hungry will be available with other wild game treats for participants to sample and will offer some easy ways to cook some of Arkansas’s most popular game animal: white-tailed deer.

The University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff’s bass fishing team will provide some loaner fishing tackle on a first-come, first-served basis, but attendees are encouraged to bring their own tackle, chairs, coolers and favorite catfish bait.

“Catfish aren’t picky at all,” Jackson said. “You can use worms, prepared catfish baits, or even cut up chunks of hot dog in a pinch. Of course, prepared stink baits are usually very productive at the derbies and only cost a dollar or two at the store.” 

Thanks to the many other sponsors of the event, lunch also will be provided for all registered participants. 

“You can register two ways this year,” Jackson said. “We’ll be registering folks on-site beginning at 8:30 that morning, or you can register online at People are welcome to join us any time during the day, but we’ll have music, food, a community health fair and plenty of other activities to keep people busy all day long.” 

If you don’t already know how to fish, don’t let that stop you from joining in on the fun. A special fishing clinic will be held at 6 p.m. this Thursday at the Witt Stephens Jr. Central Arkansas Nature Center to learn the basics.

Clint Coleman, FCFP assistant coordinator, says anyone apprehensive about fishing should come out and get a crash course in fishing at the clinic. AGFC staff will give instructions on how to cast, tie knots and choose the right baits to catch fish during the derby.

“People try to make fishing too complicated; it’s as easy as learning to tie a knot and cast a rod,” Coleman said. “The rod’s even optional if you just want to fish with a cane pole. Fishing is one of those things anyone can do, and 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. Call 501-907-0636 to register.


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