LITTLE ROCK – “The best things in life are free,” the old song tells us, and a strong example is the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission’s Free Fishing Weekend – noon on Friday, June 7, to midnight on Sunday, June 9.
No licenses will be required for anyone in that period. Anyone includes Arkansas residents, out-of-state residents and out-of-country residents. No trout permits will be required either.
Free Fishing Weekend is an Arkansas tradition dating back to 1978.
If you have not fished before or if it’s been a long time since you tried it, this is a fine chance to get a taste of what close to a million Arkansans enjoy.
The kids may be curious about fishing, and they don’t need licenses anytime if they are under 16 years old. You may be an angler, but the spouse is more acclimated to shopping at a mall. Here is then chance to get her or him into the pastime you enjoy. Yes, you may have to reciprocate with some store time.
Where do you get the necessary gear for fishing, if you don’t have any?
For a twenty-dollar bill, you can visit a big box store and likely find a packaged rod and reel plus hook, line and sinker.
Try some yard sales for fishing gear. This is a route to possible real bargains.
Best route to getting into fishing, however, is to go with a fisherman. You will learn plenty, much more and much quicker than trying it on your own.
Don’t be bashful. Ask a relative. Ask a neighbor. Ask a co-worker to take you fishing. This person may have the equipment you need for the day. You can offer to buy the gasoline, buy lunch, buy the bait, whatever, in return.
Nine out of 10, or perhaps 99 of a hundred, fishermen like to show others what they have learned over the years. Pay attention, watch what the experienced angler is doing, and you’ll pick up some valuable information.
For a real lesson in basic fishing, make an investment of spending a half-day or a full day with a professional fishing guide. Yes, this costs money but consider it something akin to spending a round on a golf course with Phil Mickelson.
Open houses and fishing derbies for youngsters are planned at the state’s five fish hatcheries June 9 from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. For more information on the derbies, phone the AGFC Fisheries Division office at 501-223-6371.
Youngsters 12 and under will be allowed to fish with the supervision of an adult. Children may catch and keep up to three catfish (or three trout at the Jim Hinkle Spring River State Fish Hatchery). The derbies will include casting contests and prizes.
Derbies will be at:
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.