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Youth Fishing Derby set at Oden shooting range pond

LITTLE ROCK – Thanks to a proclamation by Gov. Asa Hutchinson announced today, anyone may fish in Arkansas without a fishing license or trout stamp from noon Friday, June 11, through midnight Sunday night, June 13. The proclamation was read at today’s commission meeting by Megan Perkins, agriculture liaison to Hutchinson’s office.
An annual tradition sponsored by the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission and approved by Gov. Hutchinson, Free Fishing Weekend gives many people the opportunity to enjoy the amazing angling The Natural State has to offer. Residents and nonresidents may fish without a fishing license or trout permit. All other regulations, such as daily limits and size restrictions on certain bodies of water, still apply during this weekend.
The AGFC will host special fishing derbies at four of its freshwater hatcheries June 12 in celebration of the annual event. 
“This year we are excited to announce that not only youth, but the entire family may come out and fish with us at our warm water hatcheries,” said Ben Batten, chief of the AGFC’s Fisheries Division. “Unfortunately we will not be able to conduct a fishing derby at the Spring River trout hatchery in Mammoth Spring, but all other hatcheries will be available to Arkansans. People will need to register in advance to ensure we have adequate space and parking on the hatchery grounds, but we look forward to a return to the hatchery derbies after they had to be canceled last year.”
The U.S. Forest Service Mena/Oden Ranger District has scheduled a youth fishing derby for Saturday, June 12, to be held at the Oden Rifle Range Pond. Registration will open at 7 a.m. and fishing will begin at 8 a.m. The derby will end at 10:30 a.m. that morning.
Participants are strongly encouraged to pre-register for the Oden event online. You can pre-register via email at justin.mitchell@usda.gov, or wedwards@orsd.k12.ar.us. Please include the name, address and age of participants.
The Oden Rifle Range Pond Derby is open to kids ages two to 15. Please limit one fishing rod per participant and you are reminded to bring your own tackle and bait. The pond will be stocked with catchable size fish.
For directions or additional information call the Mena/ Forest Service at (479) 394-2382.
No plans have been announced for a derby on Womble Pond in Mount Ida.
Visit www.agfc.com/en/education/calendar/annual-event/free-fishing-weekend-statewide-2021 for more information on Free Fishing Weekend and the hatchery derbies planned. 
A feed of the meeting is available on the AGFC’s YouTube page at 
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aHOF9Jd7oFk
In other business, the Commission:
Hired Austin Booth to serve as the agency’s director following Director Pat Fitts’ retirement June 30. Click here for this news story.
Officially named the new boating access area being placed on the Mississippi River near Arkansas City the Gov. Mike Beebe Mississippi River Access.
Heard from James Brandenburg, Arkansas chapter chair of Backcountry Hunters and Anglers, with a presentation on their partnership with the AGFC on behalf of wild public lands, waters and wildlife. 
Recognized 10 employees with a combined 235 years of experience for their service and dedication to the natural resources of Arkansas.
Awarded retiring wildlife officer Col. Greg Rae his service sidearm for 26 years of service to the AGFC.
Approved support for the proposed submission of applications to the Arkansas Department of Transportation to try to obtain grant funds from their Recreational Trails Program and Transportation Alternatives Program to repair and improve portions of the existing trail system at the Forrest L. Wood Crowley’s Ridge Nature Center in Jonesboro.
Heard the first reading of a change to the agency’s live fish trade regulations to correct a minor typographical error in the code.
Approved a 50-cent increase to the processing fee on electronic federal duck stamp sales to offset the increase in processing costs from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
Approved a new agency substance abuse prevention and handling policy.
Approved a cost of living adjustment for AGFC employees of 2.5 percent to their annual salaries.
Approved a $100 incentive to AGFC employees who receive a COVID-19 vaccine based on a recommendation by Gov. Hutchinson.
Approved the disposal of obsolete inventory with an original value of $100,799.27 and a current net book value of $7,692.81.
A video of the meeting is available at https://www.youtube.com/user/ArkansasGameandFish.

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