Incredible Four $1,000 Bass Caught in Single Day in Fourth Day of $101,000 Hot Springs Fishing Challenge | Hot Springs National Park Arkansas

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Incredible Four $1,000 Bass Caught in Single Day in Fourth Day of $101,000 Hot Springs Fishing Challenge

Published: 5/6/2019

HOT SPRINGS NATIONAL PARK, Arkansas — An incredible four $1,000 prize-winning bass were caught in a single day Saturday, the fourth day of the 2019 $101,000 Hot Springs Fishing Challenge.

HOT SPRINGS NATIONAL PARK, Arkansas — An incredible four $1,000 prize-winning bass were caught in a single day Saturday, the fourth day of the 2019 $101,000 Hot Springs Fishing Challenge. 

All four were caught on Lake Hamilton during a fishing tournament that was being held Saturday on the lake. 

“This is just incredible,” said Bill Solleder, marketing director of Visit Hot Springs, which sponsors the annual Fishing Challenge in cooperation with the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission. “Four fish, fourth day of the Challenge, May the Fourth! May the Fourth be with you! 

“This morning [Saturday] I received a call on the ‘Fish Phone,’ which we use to receive notifications of prize-winning fish being caught during the Challenge,” Solleder said. “The call was from Brian Kunkel of Hot Springs, who said he had caught one of the Challenge’s 71 orange-tagged fish while competing in a bass fishing tournament on Lake Hamilton. 

“I arranged to meet Brian at the Andrew Hulsey Fish Hatchery to verify the fish and while I was there, I received two more calls from anglers who had also been competing in the bass tournament and who had hooked one of the tagged bass. 

“While I was standing there, a fourth tournament fisherman walked up with a fourth tagged bass.  Just incredible!” 

The four Saturday prize-winners were: 

1) BRIAN KUNKEL of Hot Springs. He caught a $1,000 bass with Tag No. 85. He caught the fish on Lake Hamilton near Doctor McFarland’s house with a Watermelon Orange Worm. 

2) KEVIN HOPKINS of Poyen. He caught the $1,000 bass bearing Tag No. 80 on Lake Hamilton, 200 yards from the Highway 70 Bridge with an Alabama Rig. 

3) HAL BRIDGES of Sheridan. He caught the $1,000 bass bearing Tag No. #98

on Scully Bay on Lake Hamilton with a Carolina Rig Lizard. 

4) BEN JACKSON of Pearcy. He caught the $1,000 bass bearing Tag No. 95 on the

Little Mazarn with a Structure Bug. 

The four fish caught Saturday brought to five the number of prize-winning fish caught since the Fishing Challenge began Wednesday. 

The Eighth Annual Fishing Challenge ends at 5 p.m. July 31. 

Seventy-one prize fish — all wearing 2019 orange tags — were released into Lake Hamilton and Lake Catherine April 30, according to Steve Arrison, CEO of Visit Hot Springs. 

“One of the prize fish, known as Big Al — which could be any of the five species of fish in the Challenge — is worth $15,000 to anyone who catches him,” Arrison said. “The Challenge is a free family-oriented event to emphasize the great fishing we have in the lakes around Hot Springs.” 

The Challenge participation is free for anyone with a valid Arkansas fishing license. 

In addition to Big Al, there remain four fish — two in each lake — worth $5,000 each, and 42 worth $1,000 each. Nineteen remaining fish will bring $500 each for the lucky anglers who catch them during the Challenge dates.” 

The prize fish will be largemouth bass, bluegill, channel catfish, white bass and redear sunfish. 

New this year are merchandise prizes from the Challenge’s co-sponsors, Mister Crappie, FLW, Luck E Strike and the Game and Fish Commission. 

Again this year, the Challenge will feature a free-fishing weekend, June 7 – 9, during which any $500 tagged fish that is caught will have an additional $500 bonus added to its prize money. 

Jeff Newman, manager of the Andrew Hulsey Fish Hatchery, said, “Any $500 fish caught during Free Fishing Weekend, June 7 through June 9, will have that amount doubled to $1,000.” 

Big Al — which could be any of the species in the Challenge — is so elusive that clues to his whereabouts are even given out if he’s not caught by June 1. Clues will be given June 1, July 1 and July 26, Arrison said. 

These prize fish remain to be caught: 

$15,000                                   1
$5,000 (2 in each lake)          4
$1,000                                     42
$500                                        19 

The Fine Print 

The Hot Springs Fishing Challenge begins at 6 a.m. May 1, 2019, and ends on July 31, 2019, at 5 p.m. Central Time. The Challenge provides anglers the opportunity to catch orange-tagged fish that can be redeemed for cash prizes. 

Eligibility: The contest is open to anyone with a valid Arkansas fishing license. 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, and/or those living in the same household of each are ineligible to win a cash prize. 

How It Works: Seventy-one (71) orange-tagged fish (total) will be released in Lake Hamilton and Lake Catherine.  The fish released will be largemouth bass, bluegill, channel catfish, white bass and bream. The orange 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 orange tag attached. 

The fish will be tagged by the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission and released in both lakes by a third party of impeccable credentials. No one will know the exact location of the release points except this individual.

No cash prize will be awarded to any participant presenting a tagged fish that has been caught other than during the 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 at: http://www.agfc.com/fishing/Pages/FishingRegulations.aspx

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  $15,000
4 fish  $5,000
46 fish $1,000
20 fish  $500

Total possible prize money if all fish are caught during the contest period is $101,000.

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