The latest editions of the Arkansas Fishing Guidebook and Arkansas Trout Fishing Guidebook are with sporting goods stores and license vendors across the state, and people looking to get the digital version for their computer or smartphone can download copies at www.agfc.com/en/resources/regulations/guidebooks.
The 2021 fishing season includes several regulations changes for anglers. A few may be more restrictive because of biological concerns, but the majority of changes are simplifications or elimination of previous regulations.
Arkansas Game and Fish Commission Deputy Director Chris Racey said the simplifications are the result of hours of work within the AGFC Fisheries Division as well as by a larger committee of AGFC staff who looked at areas where regulations had become outdated or overly inconvenient to responsible fishermen.
“We know we have many anglers who have either just taken up fishing or have come back to fishing in the last year, and we also have heard from existing anglers about some of the regulations that have become overly complex,” Racey said. “Our job is to manage the natural resources through science, but we also need to balance the regulations so that the public can understand and enjoy that resource.”
Some of the regulations introduced this year also are the result of new opportunities being explored in Arkansas’s fisheries.
A new catch-and-release rule on smallmouth bass at Lake Catherine is part of an effort to establish a smallmouth population on the reservoir. A new regulation to restrict anglers to only one tiger trout with a minimum length of 24 inches was introduced on Bull Shoals and Norfork Lake tailwaters because the species is being stocked in these tailwaters as a trophy opportunity for coldwater anglers as well.
“As an angler, I can understand how someone may be a bit overwhelmed by the size of the ‘New This Year’ section of this year’s guidebooks,” Racey said. “But if you sit down and read what some of these changes are, you’ll see that nearly all of the changes are ways we are trying to make things easier for the angler to understand and enjoy the resource.”
The simplification of some regulations is only the first step in the process.
“We still have a significantly large codebook," Racey said. "We need to constantly look at how we can still manage with science and the best interest of the resource, but do so in a way that is easier for the hunter and angler to understand.”