LITTLE ROCK – The weather is warming, official spring is approaching, and many Arkansans are getting into fishing mode.
This is a time when state record fish are often landed. Catching such a fish is just the beginning step in getting into the record books with your prize from lakes, rivers or streams.
The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission has a procedure that must be followed and completed to get a state fish record. It is not complicated.
The key points in the fish record procedure are (1) contact a Game and Fish employee, (2) find certified scales to weigh the fish and (3) fill out completely and submit an application for the record.
A phone call can put the angler with the big fish in contact with an AGFC employee. Anyone who works for the agency can witness the official weighing of the fish. If you don’t know how to reach an AGFC employee, phone toll-free 1-800-482-9262 to get a nearby name and number.
The species of the fish must be verified by a fisheries professional of either AGFC or the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. This fisheries professional does not necessarily have to be at the official weighing, however.
Using certified scales is a must — no exceptions — and in the past this requirement has been an obstacle for some people with potential record catches. Each AGFC regional office has a certified scale. A list of other locations with certified scales is available at: http://www.agfc.com/fishing/Documents/ArCertifiedScales.pdf. A picture of the potential record fish is required and if the fish is dead, the AGFC recommends keeping the fish on ice.
Certified scales are found at all post offices and at grocery stores. Ask, then look at the scales. They will have a sticker if they are certified. When you find such scales, wait until an AGFC employee arrives to do the weighing. Keep the fish in water during the wait.
Once the fish is weighed and its species identified by a fisheries biologist, go online to agfc.com and download the fishing record application form. This is the responsibility of the fisherman, not an AGFC staff member although the AGFC person may help with the procedure.
The application must be filled out completely — no blanks left empty.
Go catch the big one. Take plenty of photos. Yes, it will be a moment for bragging if you do, but follow the prescribed procedure to get your special event into the record books.