The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission is inviting Ford Big Bass Bonanza participants to help stock more than 100,000 largemouth bass fingerlings in the Arkansas River during the statewide tournament June 23.
AGFC Black Bass Program Coordinator Colton Dennis said, "Instead of dumping all the fingerlings into a few spots, we will let anglers spread them throughout the entire river. This way, the fingerlings will have a better chance of finding food and cover with less competition."
Tournament anglers can pick up bags of jumbo fingerlings at their hourly weigh-in sites and distribute the fish where they are searching for their big bite. The oxygenated bags will contain 100-150 fingerlings each, for an estimated 20,000 fingerlings per site.
The available weigh-in sites are:
Pool 2 -- Pendleton Bridge Access at Dumas;
Pool 4 -- Pine Bluff Regional Park Access;
Pool 6 -- North Little Rock Marina and Boat Dock;
Pool 10 -- Dardanelle State Park;
Pool 12 -- Clear Creek Access at Alma.
This innovative stocking is part of a combined effort by the AGFC, the Arkansas Department of Correction and the Arkansas Bass Association to improve largemouth bass fishing in the Arkansas River. The groups have added 263,000 jumbo fingerlings to the river since the start of their partnership in 2001.
"Without the dedication and cooperation from all our partners, we would not have been able to stock so many fish in the river," Dennis said. "From the collection of brood fish to the distribution of the 4- to 5-inch fingerlings, each partner goes above and beyond to make this program a success."
The ABA hosts annual benefit bass tournaments on the Arkansas River to provide the program with adult fish for spawning. Team Supreme, an independent tournament trail from Crossett, and the Arkansas BASS Federation joined the effort this year by hosting benefit tournaments at Pendleton to gather adult fish.
The adult fish are allowed to spawn in two nursery ponds at the Cummins Correctional Facility near Varner. Trustees and correctional officers maintain the ponds until the fingerlings are ready to be distributed. The ABA purchases fathead minnows for the bass and the fuel to operate pond aerators, and the AGFC provides trucks and manpower from the Joe Hogan State Fish Hatchery in Lonoke to transport fingerlings to the river for distribution.
For more information on the Ford Big Bass Bonanza and the stocking effort, visit www.fordbigbass.com or contact Colton Dennis at 877-525-8606.