Outdoors in Arkansas

words: Reprinted with permission from Arkansas Game and Fish Commission
images: courtesy Arkansas Game and Fish Commission/Mike Wintroath

Arkansas is a beautiful place, with fishing, hunting, and wildlife galore. Take a look at what’s going on outdoors in Arkansas.

Family and Community Fishing Ponds

Take the family out for a day of fishing to Carol Ann Cross Pond or Wells Lake in Fort Smith! Carol Ann Cross Pond was stocked in late June with 500 catfish, and Wells Lake was stocked with 1,000 catfish.

Family and Community Fishing locations are open to fishing with rod or pole only. Largemouth bass must be released immediately. Catfish daily limit is three. Bream daily limit is twenty-five. Trout daily limit is five. Anglers sixteen and older must have a valid license to fish. Anglers sixteen and older must have a trout permit in addition to their license to keep trout. Stocking information can also be found by calling the stocking hotline at 1.866.540.FISH (3474). You can also find a Family and Community Fishing Pond near you by visiting agfc.org.


Catch-and-release is an excellent practice during cooler months of the year, but during the middle of summer, a fish’s chances of surviving after being kept in a live well are greatly diminished. This is especially true if the fish came from deep water.

Large stripers and hybrid striped bass often will fight too hard to be revived once caught, even if they are released immediately. If you fish for stripers, hybrids or any other fish from extremely deep water this time of year, please plan to keep the legal fish you catch and take them home instead of releasing stressed fish to die in the lake.

Seventy-two Arkansans Win September Alligator Hunting Permits!

Hunters of Arkansans applied, and seventy-two won coveted alligator hunting permits for this fall. The random drawings were by the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission.

The weekend hunts in September will be on public and private lands, and the permits specify where each hunter can go after alligators.

Rules specify that an alligator must be at least four feet long, and it has to be captured, usually with a harpoon, snare or noose, before it can be killed. Permit holders are limited to one alligator, and they can have helpers accompanying them. The complete list of winners can be found at agfc.org.

Duck Survey Shows Record Numbers, Average Pond Count

Duck numbers in North America were at a record high, but that good news was tempered a bit by a lower pond count in key areas of the breeding grounds in early spring, according to the 2015 Waterfowl Breeding Population and Habitat Survey.

The annual survey estimated the breeding duck population at  49.52 million, a little higher than last year’s population of 49.15 million and forty-three percent above the long-term average.

Mallards, the favorite duck species for many Arkansas hunters, are at an all-time high.

Mallards increased seven percent to 11.64 million, fifty-one percent above the long-term average. Green-winged teal populations grew by nineteen percent to 4.08 million, ninety-eight percent above the long-term average.

The Loss of Two Legends

Jim Gaston, a giant in Arkansas outdoor recreation and tourism, died recently at the age of seventy-three. He went to work at Gaston’s White River Resort when his father bought the business in 1958. It had six cottages and six boat slips. He built the resort into a property consisting of 400 acres, two miles of river frontage, seventy-nine cottages, a 125-seat conference center, a restaurant, a private club, and a 3,200-foot airstrip.

Jim was an inductee into the Arkansas Outdoor Hall of Fame, commissioner emeritus of the Arkansas Parks, Travel and Recreation Commission and president of the Arkansas Tourism Development Council.

Butch Richenback has been called the Pied Piper of Stuttgart, and he used a duck call instead of a flute. Harry M. “Butch” Richenback died in late June at age sixty-eight. He was an icon in Stuttgart, where he lived all his life. Duck calling was his forte, although he was mayor for a dozen years and served on the city council before that. His business was Rich-N-Tone duck calls, which have a niche somewhat like Porsche automobiles or Krieghoff shotguns.

Butch was inducted into the Arkansas Outdoor Hall of Fame, one of his accolades that he accepted with a quiet smile and just a few words. The element that put him in the legends category was his teaching of youngsters how to use duck calls. He did this for years, mostly through his work as director of the
Stuttgart Youth Center. His pupils have won numerous Junior

World Duck Calling Champion titles, many state championships and quite a few world titles.

Butch never married, but he was a teacher, coach and surrogate father or uncle to hundreds of Stuttgart young people. They came to the youth center, played basketball and learned to blow duck calls, a skill akin to that of playing a musical instrument.

He will be remembered, honored and cherished in Stuttgart and in duck hunting venues elsewhere. Late this November, the Wings Over the Prairie festival will go on as usual for its seventy-ninth year, and more than one person will remark with near-reverence about Butch Richenback.

Game and Fish Foundation Selects Hall of Fame Inductees

The Arkansas Game and Fish Foundation has chosen its 2015
Arkansas Outdoor Hall of Fame inductees: Steve Bowman of Little Rock, outdoor writer and editor.

— The late Joel Campora, of Waldron, Arkansas Game and Fish Commission wildlife officer first class who died in the line of duty while trying to save two women from floodwaters in 2013

—  George Dunklin Jr., of Stuttgart, past AGFC commissioner and current chairman of international Ducks Unlimited

— Jerry Fisk of Nashville, master bladesmith and artist

— The Legacy Award will go to the late Jim Gaston, who played a key role in establishing trout fishing and promoting tourism in Arkansas

The Arkansas Outdoor Hall of Fame Banquet will be Friday,
August 21, at the Statehouse Convention Center in downtown Little Rock. Tickets are $100. The reception and silent auction will begin at 6 PM followed by dinner at 7 PM.


To purchase tickets,contact the Gameand Fish Foundation office at 501.223.6468 or via email at lori.lynch@agff.org.


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