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Buzzer-beater crappie concludes Lake Conway fishing promotion

BY Randy Zellers

ON 03-15-2024

Dale Lewis Sr.

MAYFLOWER — Dale Lewis Sr. of Scott, Arkansas, “Cashed in” with the last fish turned in for the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission’s tagged fish promotion on Lake Conway, which ended Feb. 29. According to Lewis, he almost threw away the $1,000 tag when cleaning the crappie that held it.

“The tag had gotten black and sort of blended into the black on the fish’s back,” Lewis said. “We were cleaning the fish after our trip and my brother noticed a little plastic ‘Y’ in the back like you see on clothing tags. When I looked back at the parts of the fish, I found the tag and turned it in.”

The catch was before the contest deadline, but the confirmation of the award was not completed until March 7. Lewis received his prize check March 15, and was excited to hit the water again on his return visit.

“We heard they were killing them up on Lake Conway so we had to come give it a try,” Lewis said.

Lewis, who visits Lake Conway a few times per year for crappie, said he was fishing in Gold Creek with his brother and a friend who had traveled from Dallas when the crappie bit.

“I was fishing a minnow and tipping the hook with a crappie nibble,” Lewis said. “We had gone before and done well on jigs with a crappie nibble, but they weren’t really wanting the jig that day, so we switched to live minnows and a nibble.”

In addition to the $1,000 reward, Lewis will be placed in a drawing to receive a fishing package courtesy of the Arkansas Game and Fish Foundation. All anglers who turned in a tag are eligible to receive this prize, and since only four anglers turned in tags, each has a good chance of walking away with one more prize from the promotion.

The “Cash in on Lake Conway” promotion launched last June after the AGFC announced a 5-year plan to renovate the 75-year-old lake in Central Arkansas. Initially set to expire Oct. 31, 2023, the contest was extended through the end of February to allow anglers additional opportunities to catch the tagged fish throughout winter. Tag rewards initially were set at $500, but later increased to $1,000 to add even more incentive for anglers to get out and enjoy Lake Conway during the renovation.

According to Nick Feltz, AGFC fisheries supervisor, the lake will hold plenty of water and plenty of fish through spring as rains continue to bring water into the system.

“Despite the promotion ending, there are still plenty of fish out there to be had,” Feltz said. “Conditions are always changing so be safe, but there will likely be some type of fishing opportunity available at Lake Conway through the majority of the renovation. It just comes down to how much adventure you are looking for.”

Feltz encourages everyone to continue fishing, but also to be cautious of the soft bottom in the lakebed, which can cause difficulty walking.

“We know of one incident during duck season where two individuals had to call for help to be pulled from the muck after venturing too close to wet, silty soils,” Feltz said. “We’ve also seen aerial images that show where someone likely had to dig themselves free after sinking in as well. If you bank fish, be careful where you step and try to have a fishing partner with you to help if you do find one of those soft spots.”

In addition to the tagged fish promotion, the AGFC lifted all daily creel limits on fish to enable anglers to catch and keep as many fish as they want to make the most use of the fish before renovation construction begins.




BIG CHECK (from left to right)
AGFC assistant chief of education JJ. Gladden, Dale Lewis Sr., and Rachel Shaw, executive director of Conway Convention and Visitors Bureau. AGFC photo.

Lewis’s $1,000 crappie was hidden among many others from his day’s catch. Photo courtesy Dale Lewis Sr.

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