Anglers of all ages are in for a treat this weekend as the Hot Springs Fishing Challenge brings us its Free Fishing Weekend at Lakes Catherine and Hamilton.
State fish hatcheries, including the Andrew H. Hulsey State Fish Hatchery, will also be offering special derbies for anglers up to 15 years old. The local derby will take place from 9 AM to 2 PM on Saturday. Adult supervision is required. There will be imposed limits such as one rod and reel/cane per child and three fish per child. There will also be a casting contest, an archery range, a BB gun range, and fishing on a stocked pond. Prizes will be awarded and drawings will be held throughout the derby.
Free Fishing Weekend runs from Friday through Sunday. Anglers will have a chance to win lots of prizes as the prize money on $500 tags will be double during the Free Fishing Weekend, as announced by Visit Hot Springs, the sponsor of the ongoing Hot Springs Fishing Challenge.
The Free Fishing Weekend begins at noon on Friday and will run until midnight on Sunday. During that time, residents and non-residents are allowed to fish without the fishing licenses or trout permits. However, state regulations will still apply, such as daily limits, slot limits, and length limits will still apply according to the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission.
The first clue about the fish worth the largest prize of $15,000 in the challenge, Big Al, was also given on Wednesday as an added bonus. Bill Solleder, director of marketing for Visit Hot Springs, announced that its species was a simple crappie.
“That’s the only clue I’ve got for you,” Solleder said, adding that the second clue will be released on July 1 and the third a week prior to the end of the challenge if the crappie is still not caught by them. There are speculations about the clues to be released, including the location or lake and GPS coordinates of the spot where Big Al was released.
The Hot Springs Fishing Challenge event is an annual event sponsored by Visit Hot Springs, in partnership with the Game and Fish Commission. Several prize fish are released into the lakes that each correspond to specific prizes.
Prize fish still remaining in the challenge include four fish valued at $5,000 each and 41 tagged fish valued at $1,000.
In a press release, Visit Hot Springs stressed that only the prize for the 17 fish tagged for a $500 prize will be doubled on Free Fishing Weekend.