The Arkansas state motto was once “Land of Opportunity. It could have stemmed from the abundant fishing enjoyed by young and old in all areas.
The Arkansas state motto was once “Land of Opportunity. It could have stemmed from the abundant fishing enjoyed by young and old in all areas. There is public fishing in each of the 75 counties in Arkansas. Storm Creek Lake is a favorite fishing hole in Phillips County for young and old. These venues range from the big and scenic major multi-use reservoirs to the dozens of lakes designed for fishing and operated by the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission to the many smaller waters in the AGFC's Family and Community Fishing Program. Today, fishing is virtually within walking, bicycling or short driving distance of any Arkansan and also visitors to the state. As varied as the places to fish in Arkansas are the varieties of fish that are targets for anglers. These range from the huge and legend-inspiring alligator gar to the hand-sized bream that are so attractive to youngsters – and the not so young. There isn't a dominant game fish or an “official fish” in the state. Largemouth bass come out ahead on surveys of what fishermen prefer but just barely. Close behind are crappie, catfish and bream, the latter a catchall label for several species of small sunfish. Organized competitions may put several hundred bass fishermen in action at once time, but the same day could see several thousand other Arkansans baiting hooks with crickets and worms and going after bluegill, red-ears and other types of bream. When night arrives, still more thousands can be working trotlines, jug lines and yo-yos (mechanical fishing devices) for catfish. Fishermen have been helped by decades of building accesses to the waters of the state. Boat ramps, parking areas and roads from nearby highways are projects of the Game and Fish Commission, often in partnership with counties or other local governments. Funds for these accesses come from the Marine Fuel Tax, which is state taxes paid on fuel used in boats. To go fishing in Arkansas, all a resident has to do is purchase a $10.50 license at one of hundreds of license dealers, any AGFC office or online at agfc.com. If anyone, resident or nonresident is younger than 16, no license is needed. There is no fishing season in Arkansas. It is open year-round with a few seasonal restrictions on methods of fishing like bow fishing, hand catching, snagging and spear fishing. Frogging falls under fishing rules, and the frog season is April 15 through Dec. 31. Neophytes in fishing have several means to learning the popular pastime. A simple route is to go fishing with an experienced angler, a neighbor, and a relative of perhaps a co-worker. Watching and listening to someone who knows fishing can be a productive lesson much more effective than trying it on your own. Another route is to make a modest investment. Go fishing for a half-day or a full day with a professional fishing guide. Many handy tips and basic knowledge will result. A hint from an old-time Arkansas fisherman: When is the best time to go fishing? When you can.