Fish experts from the Arkansas Game and Fish Department are preparing for the release of 61 prize fish for the Sixth Annual Hot Springs Fishing Challenge, which will begin Saturday, April 1, at 6 a.m. The Challenge will end at 5 p.m. on June 30.

The prize for catching “Big Al,” the top fish in the Challenge, has been increased to $15,000 for the 2017 Challenge, Arrison said. If all 61 of the prize fish are caught, $86,000 will be handed out to lucky anglers.

Big Al is the name given to a fish — could be a largemouth bass or one of five other species — bearing the lucky 2017 Fishing Challenge tag. Since the Challenge began in 2012, no one has ever caught Big Al. In 2016 Big Al was worth $10,000.

The total prize money available if all the prize fish are caught will be $86,000, Arrison said.

The prize fish will include this distribution:


$15,000              1

$5,000                4

$1,000                46

$500                   10

 The Fine Print

The Hot Springs Fishing Challenge begins at 6 a.m. April 1, 2017, and ends on June 30, 2017, at 5 p.m. Central Time. The Challenge provides anglers the opportunity to catch 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: Sixty-one (61) tagged fish (total) will be released in Lake Hamilton and Lake Catherine.  The fish released will be largemouth bass, bluegill, channel catfish, white bass, crappie, and walleye. The 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 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 for 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:

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

10 fish  $500

Total possible prize money if all fish are caught during the contest period is $86,000.

For additional information call Steve Arrison at 501-321-2027.