LITTLE ROCK — Thanks to a proclamation by Gov. Asa Hutchinson, anyone may fish in Arkansas without a fishing license or trout stamp from noon on Friday, June 7, through midnight Sunday night, June 9.
An annual tradition sponsored by the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission and approved by Gov. Asa Hutchinson, Free Fishing Weekend gives many people the opportunity to enjoy the amazing angling The Natural State has to offer.
“At $10.50 a year, Arkansas has one of the least expensive fishing licenses in the country,” said Ben Batten, chief of the AGFC’s Fisheries Division. “But even that fee is waived for this weekend as a way to remove as many barriers as possible to enjoying the outdoors.”
Batten says the weekend is a great time to bring over friends from other states and enjoy some of the angling The Natural State has to offer or to give trout fishing a try, which normally would require an additional trout stamp.
“The first week in June is prime fishing time in Arkansas for all species,” Batten said. “It doesn’t matter if you want to chase bass from a boat, wade for trout in one of our famous tailwater fisheries or just enjoy a relaxing day on the bank waiting for catfish or bream to bite. Arkansas has something for everyone.”
In addition to the lifting of the license requirement, the AGFC will host fishing derbies at each of its five hatcheries across the state on Saturday, June 8, for anglers 15 and younger.
“Our hatchery staff take great pride in making these derbies fun for the whole family,” said Tommy Laird, assistant chief of fish culture for the AGFC. “Each hatchery tries to do a little more each year to outdo the others, and usually they’ll add a few extra-large ‘bonus’ fish into the mix to give young anglers some added excitement.”
Fishing derbies will run from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m. Each child must be supervised by an adult. Kids may catch and keep up to three catfish (or three trout if fishing at the Jim Hinkle Spring River State Fish Hatchery).
In addition to fishing fun, participants also will be able to shoot beginning archery equipment and BB guns and compete in casting contests.
Contact the hatchery nearest you for details on its derby:
Andrew Hulsey State Fish Hatchery, Hot Springs, (877) 525-8606
Charlie Craig State Fish Hatchery, Centerton, (877) 795-2470
William Donham State Fish Hatchery, Corning, (877) 857-3876
Joe Hogan State Fish Hatchery, Lonoke, (877) 676-6963
Jim Hinkle Spring River State Fish Hatchery, Mammoth Spring, (877) 625-7521