Tagging and Release of Prize Fish Scheduled for Either Annual $101,000 Hot Sprigs Fishing Challenge Which Begins on May 1 and Ends July 31 | Hot Springs National Park Arkansas

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Tagging and Release of Prize Fish Scheduled for Either Annual $101,000 Hot Sprigs Fishing Challenge Which Begins on May 1 and Ends July 31

Published: 4/24/2019

HOT SPRINGS NATIONAL PARK, Arkansas — Tagging of the 71 prize fish — including the $15,000 Big Al top prize — in the Eighth Annual $101,000 Hot Springs Fishing Challenge for 2019 will be held Monday, April 29, at the Andrew Hulsey Fish Hatchery on Lake Hamilton.

HOT SPRINGS NATIONAL PARK, Arkansas — Tagging of the 71 prize fish — including the $15,000 Big Al top prize — in the Eighth Annual $101,000 Hot Springs Fishing Challenge for 2019 will be held Monday, April 29, at the Andrew Hulsey Fish Hatchery on Lake Hamilton. 

The prize fish — all wearing 2019 orange tags — will be released into Lake Hamilton and Lake Catherine April 30 in anticipation of the May 1 start of the Challenge, according to Steve Arrison, CEO of Visit Hot Springs, which conducts the Challenge in cooperation with the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission. 

“The location where Big Al — which could be any of the five species of fish in the Challenge — will be documented, although only the person who releases him will know exactly where the release took place,” Arrison said. “Fishing in the Challenge begins at 6 a.m. May 1, and we anticipate another great year of using this 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, according to Arrison. 

“One of those 71 fish, which we always call Big Al, will be worth $15,000 cash to anyone who can reel him in,” Arrison said. “In the history of the Challenge, Big Al has only been caught one time — on June 22, 2017, by Pete Clark of Malvern. It was a largemouth bass in Lake Hamilton.” 

“But there will be 70 more chances to win prize money,” he said. “There will be four fish — two in each lake — worth $5,000 each, and 46 worth $1,000 each. Twenty 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 will be merchandise prizes from the Challenge’s co-sponsors, The Crappie Expo, FLW, Luck E Strike and the Game and Fish Commission. Those who catch one of the prize fish will receive a merchandise prize in addition to the cash prize. 

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.” 

“Free Fishing Weekend is an annual tradition sponsored by the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission and approved by Gov. Asa Hutchinson,” Newman said. “Free Fishing Weekend furnishes many citizens and visitors an opportunity to enjoy the amazing angling the Natural State has to offer. 

“Residents and nonresidents may fish this weekend from Friday at noon until midnight Sunday without fishing licenses or trout permits. Regulations for Arkansas waters apply; daily limits, slot limits, and length limits must be observed.”

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. 

$15,000                                    1
$5,000 (2 in each lake)          4
$1,000                                     46
$500                                        20 

“We are continuing our great partnership with the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission, which has worked so well for us for the last seven years,” Arrison said. “The G&FC staff at the Andrew Hulsey Fish Hatchery on Lake Hamilton has been spectacular in selecting, tagging and releasing the prize fish. Jeff Newman is the Hatchery manager.” 

“Hot Springs residents and visitors coming to Hot Springs from throughout the nation have told us this is their favorite time of year,” Arrison said. “Many people have told us they had an exciting time on the lakes trying to land one of the prize fish, even if they haven’t yet hit the cash jackpot.”

HOT SPRING FISHING CHALLENGE
HISTORY

2018    10/71                           $ 12,000 prize money paid             14.1% of fish caught
2017    8/61 caught                $ 21,500                                              13.1%
2016    11/71                           $ 10,000                                              15.5%
2015    10/71                           $ 16,000                                              14.0%
2014    16/60                           $ 16,500                                              27.0%
2013    11/53                           $   9,500                                              21.0%
2012    15/53                           $ 10,250                                              28.0% 

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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