Fishing and Hunting
Night fishing for catfish, morning exploration of the waters below the rapids for bass, and sunny days luring perch behind popping bugs are magical reincarnations of the simple joys of being a carefree child. Grab a pole and be off to the creek. If you need a little advice to get you started, here it is. If you need more information on regulations and licenses, or if you'd like to hear up-to-date fishing hotline information, use the numbers provided. Or visit the Game & Fish website at http://www.agfc.com/fishing/default.htm
There are four main game fish in the waters of Newton County. They are smallmouth bass, largemouth bass, rock bass and catfish. They abound in the Buffalo River, Little Buffalo, Piney and all their main tributaries.
The fish classed as black bass are the largemouth, small mouth and Kentucky. Arkansas law sets a limit of ten on these fish and no more than six of these may be smallmouth bass. However, there is a two-per-day limit on smallmouth in the Buffalo River. Size limit, which is the measured from the front end of the lower jaw to the tip of the tail, is 14" on smallmouth in the Buffalo and 12" on the rest of the string.
o help you identify the basses, the largemouth's upper jaw extends to behind the eye. It rarely has a tooth patch on the tongue, and it has a deep notch between the dorsal fins. The scales on the cheeks are about as large as the scales on the body.
The smallmouth's upper jaw extends to the eye and it has uniform olive brown coloration with no dark horizontal stripe on the side. Arkansas residents yearly permit is $10.50, and $11.00 for non-resident three day permit.
Ready to fish? The best time of year for smallmouth is pre-spawning, April and May. Fish are most active then and feed more. They don't bite well when they're on the beds deeper pools and still water and use worms, liver and stink baits.
For the largemouth bass, use the same baits as for smallmouth and fish morning and evening. They like calmer water and deeper pools; check well-shaded spots in summer. Largemouth spawn later than small mouth so the good spring fishing lasts a little later. Smallmouth will begin spawning when the water is about 64 degrees, but largemouth bass require a temperature of about 69 degrees before they begin making spawning beds.
If you're a novice and want to just try fishing to see if you're interested in pursuing it as an outdoor hobby, Arkansas Game and Fish Commission gives you the perfect opportunity the second weekend in June with Free Fishing Weekend. Although all limit, length, and other regulations still apply, license regulations and trout stamp requirements are suspended that weekend and you are invited to sample fishing in any of the state's waters license free, whether resident or non-resident. Be sure to get permission if you're crossing or fishing on private property.
Many areas have special fishing derbies for children during this weekend, with prizes for most fish and biggest fish and drawings for free gifts.
Love hunting? There's plenty of opportunity to indulge. Pick up and follow the General Hunting Regulations furnished free wherever hunting licenses are sold and at ranger stations, park service offices and other local outlets You can also obtain one by writing Arkansas Game and Fish Commission, #2 Natural Resources Drive, Little Rock, Arkansas 72205. Or visit their website at http://www.agfc.com/hunting/index.htm
Arkansas hunters can enjoy hunting variety, taking bows, crossbows, muzzleloaders, pistols, rifles and shotguns to the woods and fields for small game, deer, waterfowl and black bear. For complete information on hunting seasons, licenses, hunting zones, special rules pertaining to Wildlife Management Areas and general regulations, you will need a current copy of AG&FC Commissions' regulations, which become available each year in June. However, some general information can help you plan your hunting excursions well in advance.
Small game seasons include quail, mid to late winter (about December - February); rabbit, fall to mid-winter; and two squirrel seasons, a spring season from about mid-May to mid-June and a fall season which varies by zone and is usually from early September through February in the northern part of the state.
Fur bearing animal trapping and hunting season opens in mid November and closes in mid February, with raccoon hunting excepted. Raccoon hunters, who can use .22 shot ammunition only, have a slightly longer season.
Coyote season, changed in 1994-95, opens in early fall and extends to late spring. There is no limit and dogs can be used in the final months.
There are gun seasons for wild turkey in both the spring and the fall. There is also a fall archery/crossbow season for most of the state. Restrictions on shot and weapons are in the regulations.
The hunting zone for black bear extends over most of the northwest part of the state and opens in late fall for archery/crossbow hunters and in late December for muzzleloader hunters. In between, there is a regular gun season. The bag limit is one and baiting and the use of dogs are prohibited. While not specifically prohibited, the Game and Fish Commission encourages hunters to refrain from shooting sows with cubs and cubs which are under 100 pounds. Since the reintroduction to Arkansas of 200 black bears in the late 1950s and early 1960s, the black bear population has grown to over 2,500 bears. The program to reintroduce the bear to Arkansas has been described as the most successful large mammal reintroduction program in North America.
Perhaps the most-anticipated hunting seasons of all are the seasons for deer. Arkansas hunters spent 5.5 million days afield involved in hunting various game animals in 1991 and many of those days were spent in pursuit of a big buck. Most of Newton County is in deer hunting Zone 2 and can plan on a mid to late November gun season. That part in Zone 5 and the neighboring Zone 6 usually have a slightly longer gun season. Archery and crossbow seasons run from mid-fall to late winter in this area. Watch for muzzle loading season opening about the last week in October and continuing until late December.
Arkansas Game and Fish Commission owns and manages over 325,000 acres of land that provides valuable habitat for all wildlife as well as hunting and wildlife viewing opportunities for the public. Special permit hunts are offered on the Wildlife Management Areas, including the Gene Rush WMA in eastern Newton County. Applications are usually due in June and winners of drawings for the permits are notified in August. More information is available by calling or writing AG&FC.
Licenses range around $25-35 for residents of the state. Annual all-game non-resident licenses and five day and three day non-resident trip licenses are available. Licenses may be purchased by mail and you can call 1-800-364-GAME for information.
Since beginning the Arkansas Hunter Education Course in 1971, Arkansas Game and has certified over 250,000 graduates. In 1993, over 1300 volunteer hunter education instructors taught over 1,142 classes to over 20,000 students. It's all part of an effort to keep Arkansas hunters safe to enjoy the outdoors for years to come.
Finally, there is a special hotline number to call to report game violations. Violators are not sportsmen and they steal from every legal hunter. Rewards up to $500 are offered for information resulting in a citation being issued for game and fish violations. The number to call is 1-800-482-9262.