June 21, 2018
An Arkansas company donated 12,000 pounds of blue catfish — weighing 10 to 40 pounds — in the state's Family and Community Fishing Program.
By Randy Zellers
LITTLE ROCK - Anglers looking for a relaxing trip to their local Family and Community Fishing Program location may just find the catch of a lifetime waiting for them, thanks to a generous donation from a landowner in southeast Arkansas.
Baxter Land Company Fish Farm in Arkansas City donated more than 12,000 pounds of catfish, weighing 10 to 40 pounds each, to the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission to give people some added incentive to keep their lines wet this summer. The fish are all blue catfish, raised as brood stock for commercial catfish production.
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"We've been able to get more than 600 of these fish," said Clint Coleman, FCFP assistant coordinator. "So we'll be putting anywhere from 10 to 20 fish in our 36 locations in the state."
If the chance to catch a bruiser isn't enough to get you to the water, FCFP biologists worked with local businesses near each location to offer special rewards for some of these fish.
"A few of these big cats will be marked with bright yellow tags beside their dorsal fin," Coleman said. "Anyone who catches a tagged fish can call the phone number on the tag to find out what prize they've won."
Coleman says prizes include tackleboxes, rod-and-reel combos, and gift certificates to local stores, but a few are worth some big-ticket items, such as kayaks and stand-up paddleboards, donated by some generous retail stores.
This isn't the first time Baxter Land Company Fish Farm has helped offer excitement to Arkansas anglers. In the last 10 years, they have donated close to 50,000 pounds of catfish that were stocked in FCFP ponds.
"The last time we stocked some of these blue catfish in program ponds was in 2014, when they donated about 20,000 pounds to us, but these are bigger," Coleman said. "It's great to have such a partner who knows how much these fish mean to our anglers and how one fish can make memories that will last a lifetime."
Note: Randy Zellers is the assistant chief of communications for the Arkansas Game & Fish Commission.