The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission's Family and Community Fishing Program is kicking off winter in style by releasing hundreds of tagged rainbow trout in program ponds throughout the state. Each year, rainbow trout raised at the Jim Hinkle Spring River State Fish Hatchery in Mammoth Springs are delivered to community ponds in Arkansas once the water temperatures have cooled enough to accommodate the cold-water fish. According to Maurice Jackson, AGFC Family and Community Fishing Program Coordinator, the fish will be delivered beginning this week, and all program ponds scheduled for trout should have fish swimming in them in time for the Thanksgiving holiday.
"This year, we are increasing the size of trout stocked to give anglers a little more pull on the end of their lines," Jackson said. "These trout will be stocked from November until March when we'll switch back to catfish stockings."
The traditional catfish stockings also have a treat in store for anglers this week. Throughout the year, specially tagged prize-winning catfish were stocked in FCFP ponds around the state. Anyone who caught one of those fish could turn them in for special prize packages, such as fishing rods, bait, tackle boxes and other fishing goodies. They also were automatically entered in a special drawing that will be held on the evening news on KTHV (Channel 11) on Thursday, Nov. 16. One lucky angler will win the grand prize of a two-night, three-day stay for up to 14 friends at Rick Evans Grandview Prairie Education Center near Columbus, in Hempstead County. Guests can canoe, fish, shoot trap, hike or shoot archery equipment during their stay.
Special tags also will be placed on trout being stocked this winter. If an angler catches one of these special fish, they can send the tag to the AGFC to collect a special prize package of fishing equipment. All tag winners also will be entered into a grand prize drawing at the end of this year's trout season for larger prizes.
Visit www.agfc.com/familyfishing to learn more about the Family and Community Fishing Program and to find a pond near you participating in the winter trout stocking schedule.