Beginning at noon Friday, June 7, and running until midnight Sunday, June 9, anyone can fish the waters of Arkansas without possessing an Arkansas fishing license. By decree of Governor Asa Hutchinson, Free Fishing Weekend returns at its usual spot on the June calendar, the first full weekend of the month.
That means you can fish anywhere, including Lake Hamilton and Lake Catherine, where the record has already been broken for most tagged fish caught in the Hot Springs Fishing Challenge with nearly two full months still to go. Don't worry; the AGFC tagged 71 different fish for the contest, and at last check there were almost 50 tagged fish still swimming around those lakes, including the $15,000 "Big Al." Catch a fish with a $500 tag during the Free Fishing Weekend period and you'll see your prize money doubled to $1,000, the sponsor, Visit Hot Springs, says.
Along with any age fishing for free this weekend, the AGFC's five state fish hatcheries will be hosting fishing derbies for 15 and below from 8 a.m. to noon on Saturday, June 8. Each child must be supervised by an adult, and kids may catch and keep up to three catfish at four of the hatcheries, or three trout at the Jim Hinkle Spring River State Fish Hatchery. Plus participants can compete in casting contests and win prizes for fish caught.
Contact these hatcheries for more information: 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; and Jim Hinkle Spring River State Fish Hatchery, Mammoth Spring, 877-625-7521.
Also, note that you don't have to have permit to fish for trout. Free Fishing Weekend is open to residents and nonresidents of Arkansas.