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How to Do Well During This Arkansas Catfish Derby Season
While the Arkansas Derby came to a close on Saturday with Angel of Empire emerging victorious, the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission (AGFC) is ensuring that the state's residents can continue enjoying the spirit of the derby with a series of family-friendly fishing events throughout the year.
AGFC hatcheries will be stocking ponds across the state throughout the spring and summer seasons with hundreds of thousands of catfish ready for catching.
J.J. Gladden, the assistant chief of education at AGFC responsible for the organization's fishing education programs, explained that while many are familiar with the fishing derbies held at AGFC hatcheries during Free Fishing Weekend in June, the agency also collaborates with communities across Arkansas to offer numerous other fishing events.
For a comprehensive list of fishing derbies coordinated by the AGFC, visit https://www.agfc.com/en/education/onthewater/fe/fishing-derbies/.
How To Maximize Your Derby Performance
Preparation and a strategic approach are key to success for anglers eager to compete in a catfish derby. Here are some essential tips to help you excel in such events and increase your chances of catching catfish.
First, research the specific location of the derby, as this will provide valuable insight into the habits of catfish in the area. Familiarize yourself with local regulations and obtain the necessary permits before participating.
Next, gather the appropriate gear. A medium-heavy action rod paired with a sturdy reel loaded with a 15-20 pound test line is ideal for catfish. Use circle hooks, which are more effective in hooking catfish without causing significant harm, and attach a sinker or sliding weight to keep your bait near the bottom, where catfish tend to dwell.
Choose your bait wisely. Catfish are known for their strong sense of smell and taste, making stink baits, chicken liver, and cut bait effective options. Even hotdogs or cheese cubes can work. Don't shy away from using earthworms, as they are a universal bait choice that appeals to many fish species.
During the derby, cast your line in areas with structure or cover, such as submerged logs, rocks, or vegetation, as catfish often hide in these locations. Catfish are notorious for stealing bait, so keep a firm grip on your rod and be prepared to set the hook when you feel a bite.
Engage with fellow competitors and learn from their experiences. In a derby setting, camaraderie and the exchange of knowledge can improve your overall fishing skills, making you a more formidable contender in future events.
Last but not least, embrace the challenge, and enjoy the thrill of competing in a catfish derby!