Arkansas Game and Fish
The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission in response to the coronavirus pandemic canceled annual fishing derbies this month at its four warm-water fish hatcheries. That has resulted in more catfish available to stock at lakes and public ponds.
“We didn’t want to cancel our hatchery derbies, but we really didn’t see a way to do them without breaking social distancing precautions,” said Tommy Laird, an assistant chief of fisheries for Game and Fish. “We host thousands of participants each year on that day, and there just isn’t space for people to spread out properly on the ponds that we designate for the derbies.”
Each of the four hatcheries operated by Game and Fish has a surplus of catchable-sized catfish that were raised with these derbies in mind. Those catfish were delivered in early June to small ponds throughout the state. The 24,000 pounds of catchable catfish have been stocked evenly throughout the state.
“We stocked 6,000 pounds of catfish in each of the four quarters of the state,” Laird said. “The amount stocked per pond was determined by the size of that pond and the number of people who normally fish it, but we worked hard to divide this surplus evenly.”
These stockings are in addition to the normal stockings Game and Fish conducts through its Family and Community Fishing Program.
“Those locations all will receive their normal stockings. These are just some additional locations that normally don’t get these extra catfish,” Laird said.
Anglers are advised to practice social distancing while fishing. Maintain a 6-foot distance (one fishing rod’s length) from your nearest neighbor who is not in your immediate family and wash your hands thoroughly after touching any surfaces that someone else may have touched.
Waterways in the region that received extra catfish include: Berryville, George Pond; Booneville, Booneville City Lake; Centerton, Centerton Pond;Harrison, Harrison Lake; Jasper, Bradley Park; Lowell, Ward Nail Park; Siloam Springs, Sager Creek Park; Van Buren, Lake Lou Emma; Waldron, Sodie Davidson Park Pond; and West Fork, Devil’s Den State Park.