Casting and Catching and Catfish-- Oh My!
On September 24th the Mammoth Spring National Fish Hatchery held its annual Fishing Derby to celebrate National Hunting and Fishing Day. The event was visited by over 300 moms, dads, uncles, grandparents, and young anglers.
The event provided youth 15 years and younger an opportunity to fish one of our ponds. This was the first time in two years due to Covid-19 precautions. The participants in the derby had fishing poles whirling around and hooks hitting the water. It didn’t take long to see the smiles on the kids’ faces. The joy of the kids during this event was just as plentiful if they had landed a minnow or a grey whale. Other opportunities at the event included fly tying and fly rod casting booths, held by local, experienced fishing pros. The booths taught young anglers how to tie flies and teach the intimidating method of casting a fly rod. In addition to the activities at the Mammoth Spring National Fish Hatchery, the Arkansas Game and Fish’s Mammoth Spring State Park provided an opportunity to youth to try their skills at air archery and BB gun shooting arenas. The State Park and volunteers also cooked up hotdogs and water, compliments of the Friends Group for the Mammoth Spring National Fish Hatchery.
The partnership between the Fish Wildlife Service and the State of Arkansas provides a wonderful opportunity for the two agencies but also for the visiting public. Working with the State Park is always fun and only strengthens the collaboration between the agencies and staff. The employees at the State Park were a huge help. Their staff helped set up the concession stand and booths at the State Park. In addition to the BB gun range and archery, other booths consisted of giant fishhooks for kids to practice tying different types of fishhook knots. A fishing rod casting station was also available. The State Park also had an informational booth they name “skins and skulls”, which is a taxidermic display of various species that can be found within the local area. There was also a hunting and fishing booth, which provided visitors with state hunting and fishing regulations and an opportunity to purchase licenses. In addition to the visitors who attended the event, we also had a great turn out of volunteers.
The local high school began assisting with preparations weeks prior to the event by making the giant fishhooks for a booth. Also, students from the Mammoth Spring High School volunteered during the event. We also had several volunteers from the local area, Mammoth Spring National Fish Hatchery, Friends of the Mammoth Spring National Fish Hatchery, Norfork National Fish Hatchery, Spring River State Fish Hatchery, and Mammoth Spring State Park. Arkansas Game and Fish Game Wardens also helped by assisting anglers with hook removal and talking to them about fishing and hunting. In all, we had over 32 volunteers helping to prepare and participate in the event’s activities. This event went very smoothly, which is due to the outpouring of support from our great community coming together to help.