Blue catfish being considered as official Arkansas fish


Published Saturday, February 07, 2009

It may have been relegated to the squint-eye type on an inside page in view of the news coverage of Arkansas legislative wrangling over the lottery, tobacco tax, trauma system and such.

State Rep. Gregg Reep, D-Warren, has introduced a bill to make the blue catfish the official Arkansas fish.

Good readers, you will want a minimum of snide remarks and semi-clever comments on this topic. But Reep has some past history to study on this weighty issue.

The Arkansas legislators, both House of Representatives and Senate, had a knockdown, drag-out battle over naming a state fish some years in the past. Proponents crafted a bill to make the largemouth bass the official Arkansas fish. There were objections, and it may have been Conway's Stanley Russ who offered the bream as a prospective state fish instead of the largemouth bass.

James Powell, editorial page editor of the late and lamented Arkansas Gazette, often referred to the largemouth bass as the loudmouth bass, and he did so on this occasion. Powell loved to fish for bream on Lake Conway.

The result was no official Arkansas fish. None is listed on the useful Web site www.Arkansas.gov although a couple of other Web sites say the largemouth bass is the state fish.

A little later, some folks noticed that Arkansas had a state bird (mockingbird), state flower (apple blossom), a state insect (honey bee) and various other state items, but it had no state mammal. A civics class at Omaha High School, way up in Boone County hugging the Missouri state line, took it upon itself in 1993 to promote the white-tailed deer as Arkansas' state mammal.

The kids got a game plan together, traveled down to Little Rock to the Capitol, and made their case before the legislators. The white-tailed deer was approved as the state mammal. Then it was forgotten, or nearly so. Several years passed before this began appearing in various publications and documents about Arkansas.

LAKE CONWAY

Rick Bates at Bates Field and Stream said the water is fairly clear and high. Bream are slow. Crappie are fair on jigs and pink minnows around brush piles in 3 to 5 feet of water. Bass are slow. Catfishing is slow.

Dan Zajac at Gold Creek Landing said crappie are biting fairly well on white/red and chartreuse jigs fished 2-4 feet deep under a bobber. Bluegill and red-ear bream are starting to pick up on red worms. Bass are slow. Catfishing is slow.

LITTLE RED RIVER

Billy Lindsey at Lindsey's Resort said the fishing has been excellent. The water is clear and the generators are running from 6 to 10:30 a.m. Float fishing has been great on crank baits in the mornings and fishing with Power Bait and live bait has worked well in the afternoons.

GREERS FERRY LAKE

Tommy Cauley of Fish Finder Guide Service said the water level is at 461.59 and rising and the surface temperature is 45-48 degrees. The expected warm rain should raise the water temperature and put the walleye on the move upriver. Bass fishing continues to be good on jerk baits, crank baits, Rat-L-Traps and spinner baits in shallow water and football head jigs and Carolina rigs in 25 to 45 feet of water. The hybrid bass and white bass can be found at 40 to 45 feet deep and can be caught on spoons, but it's a bit slow. Crappie are still being caught in the pole timber 15 to 20 feet deep on jigs and minnows.

HARRIS BRAKE LAKE

Coffee Creek Landing said the water is cloudy and is beginning to warm up a bit. Crappie are fair in 8 to 10 feet of water on minnows. Bass are fair on plastic worms.

LAKE OVERCUP

Overcup Landing said the water is high and stained. Crappie are biting well on white jigs and minnows fished around boat docks in 12 to 18 inches of water. Bream, bass and catfish are all slow.

BREWER LAKE

Overcup Landing said the water is high and clear. Crappie are biting well on white and green jigs and minnows fished around brush. Other species are slow.

LAKE MAUMELLE

Roger Nesuda at Jolly Roger's Marina said the water level is two inches above the spillway. The surface temperature is 47 degrees. Largemouth and spotted bass are fair and are beginning to get more active. Most of the fish are in deep water along the creek and river channels and are hitting spoons and jig and pig combos. The largemouths and spotteds are grouped up together, but the spotteds are hitting a bit softer. White bass are slow, but several anglers have reported some minor success on the west end of the lake. The spring spawning run should begin in mid- to late February. Several large crappie are being caught in 25 to 30 feet of water on 1/32-ounce jigs tipped with a minnow. Some bream are being caught 25 to 30 feet deep on worms. Saugeye are fair on Road Runners in 15 to 25 feet of water. Catfishing is fair on worms and prepared baits in 25 to 30 feet of water.

ARKANSAS RIVER

Charlie Hoke at Charlie's Hidden Harbor in Oppelo said few anglers are on the water. Catfishing is good in deep holes on skipjack herring. Some 10 to 25-pound catfish have come from below dams 9 and 10. Sauger are being caught in eddies below the dams on red and white jigs tipped with minnows. Striped bass are biting well below the dams and at Point Remove Creek. Live shad and bream are working for the stripers.