Arkansas' Hot Springs fishing challenge starts May 1

HOT SPRINGS – Crank up your fish-finders, try Grandpa’s favorite vintage lure, dig a bucket of worms from that leaf pile in the corner of the back yard, buy yourself some crickets or minnows.

Then set your sights on No. 22. That’s the tag number that will bring you a cool 10 grand if you land “Big Al” in the first-ever $50,000 Hot Springs Fishing Challenge, which begins May 1 on Lake Hamilton and Lake Catherine at Hot Springs National Park, Arkansas.

Fifty-three fish belonging to several species will be tagged at the Andrew Hulsey Fish Hatchery beginning at 11 a.m. on April 30 to get the Fishing Challenge under way. The fish will be released at unspecified locations in Lakes Hamilton and Catherine, and the contest will begin at daybreak May 1.

“We drew tag numbers at random and assigned each tag a prize value,” said Steve Arrison, CEO of Visit Hot Springs. “Tag No. 22 was assigned the $10,000 top prize, and will be attached to a fish we’re calling ‘Big Al,’ which will be released in one of the two lakes. Whoever catches ‘Big Al’ between 6 a.m. May 1 and 5 p.m. July 31 and completes all the requirements will receive $10,000.”
The Hot Springs Fishing Challenge is open to anyone with a fishing pole and a valid Arkansas fishing license, Arrison said. “The fish released will be nine largemouth bass; nine bluegill, nine catfish, nine striped bass, nine crappie, and eight walleye. The fish other than ‘Big Al’ will have tags for prizes ranging from $5,000 to $250.”

The tags will have a phone number and a prize number on them. If a fish is caught the angler must call the number and present the fish with the tag attached.

“Anybody with a fishing pole can win, no matter what their age, skill level. It doesn’t matter if the fish is caught while fishing from a boat, from the bank or from a dock. Kids under 16 don’t have to have a valid Arkansas fishing license, but those age 16 and older need the valid license,” Arrison said.

The official rules for the Fishing Challenge are:

The Hot Springs Fishing Challenge begins at 6 a.m. May 1, 2012, and ends on July 31, 2012, at 5 p.m. Central Daylight Time. The Challenge provides anglers the opportunity to catch tagged fish that can be redeemed for cash prizes.

Eligibility: The contest is open to anyone with a valid Arkansas fishing license and also to kids age 16 and under. Employees of the Hot Springs Advertising and Promotion Commission, the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission at the Andrew H. Hulsey Fish Hatchery, and their immediate family members, or those living in the same household of each are ineligible to win a cash prize.

How It Works: Fifty-three tagged fish will be released in Lake Hamilton and Lake Catherine. The fish released will be 9 largemouth bass, 9 bluegill, 9 catfish, 9 striped bass, 9 crappie and 8 walleye. The tags will have a phone number and a prize number on them. If a fish is caught, the angler must call the number and present the fish with the tag attached.

No cash prize will be awarded to any participant presenting a tagged fish that has been caught other than during the official fishing period. Tags must be presented during the fishing period to be redeemed. All tagged fish must be caught in accordance with all state and local laws, codes, rules, and regulations. Rules and regulations can be found HERE.

No cash prizes will be awarded to any participant who does not comply with state and local laws, codes, rules and regulations.

Publicity Release: Each angler who catches a prize fish grants Visit Hot Springs the rights to use their name, likeness, biographical information and photographs, without compensation, in any and all media without limitation for advertising and promotional purposes.

General Prize Conditions: Prize winners shall be solely responsible for all federal, state and/or local taxes associated with their prize.

Prize Distribution: The tagged fish will each be assigned a number. Prize money will be divided as follows:
      • 1 fish $10,000
      • 1 fish $5,000
      • 1 fish $2,500
      • 20 fish $1,000
      • 20 fish $500
      • 10 fish $250

For more information, call Steve Arrison at 501-321-2027 or visit

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