Free Arkansas Fishing Weekend Starts Today

Courtesy Arkansas Game and Fish Commission


Thanks to a proclamation from Gov. Mike Beebe, the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission waives fishing license requirements for a weekend each year.

Free Arkansas Fishing Weekend traditionally runs during the first weekend in June. This year’s dates are noon, Friday, June 7, until midnight Sunday, June 9.

“Time and money are always obstacles to pursuing a new activity,” said Mark Oliver, chief of the AGFC Fisheries Division. “This is an opportunity for us to tempt people into experiencing some of the best fishing anywhere in the world.”

The weekend isn’t just for beginners.

“Even if you already pursue warmwater fish, it’s a great opportunity to try trout fishing on our world-class tailwaters without purchasing a stamp,” Oliver said.

Although anglers do not need fishing licenses or trout stamps, they must follow all other AGFC fishing regulations, including limits and tackle restrictions. For more information, pick up a free Arkansas Fishing Guidebook wherever licenses are sold or visit

The AGFC doesn’t just waive license requirements during this special weekend. Hatchery trucks are burning the midnight oil all week before the event to stock community ponds and fishing holes with catfish for derbies throughout the state.

“We’ll stock around 9,200 catchable-size catfish in 35 locations around Arkansas just for derbies on June 8,” said Jimmy Barnett, coordinator for the AGFC Aquatic Resources Education program. “That doesn’t include the five hatcheries that each have a derby on the same day. We expect to see about 9,000 fish caught by participants at the hatchery derbies alone.”

Although AGFC hatcheries are going full-bore during June, one pond is specifically for kids to enjoy during Free Fishing Weekend.

“Our hatcheries are great places to come view wildlife, and we have signs for walking tours throughout the grounds, but this is the only opportunity for people to come and actually fish in our ponds,” said Jason Miller, hatchery manager at the Joe Hogan State Fish Hatchery in Lonoke. “Our hatcheries are part of the community, and seeing the kids smile while they’re fishing makes all our long nights worth it.”

Hatchery derbies are 9 a.m.-2 p.m., June 8, for kids 12 and younger. There’s a limit of three fish per child, and each child may use only one rod or pole. There is no charge for the hatchery derbies, but participants must bring fishing tackle and bait. It’s also a good idea to bring refreshments, cameras, camping chairs and coolers to take home your child’s catch. Alcoholic beverages are not allowed.

A complete list of AGFC-sponsored fishing derbies is available at

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