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story.lead_photo.caption A fisherman casts his line into the Arkansas River Monday March 16, 2020 in North Little Rock near the Big Dam Bridge. (Arkansas Democrat-Gazette/Staton Breidenthal) - Photo by Staton Breidenthal

The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission on Thursday unanimously voted to waive fishing license fees from Saturday through March 29, allowing anglers to fish anywhere in Arkansas without having to buy a license.

The free fishing period will begin at 12:01 a.m. Saturday and end March 29 at 11:59 p.m.

The commission's minute order said that Gov. Asa Hutchinson and other state leaders recently recommended that people spend time fishing as a practical way to observe social distancing for health and safety while enjoying the outdoors in Arkansas during the coronavirus pandemic.

Ken Reeves of Harrison, chairman of the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission, said waiving license requirements is a compassionate gesture at a time when so many lives in Arkansas have been disrupted.

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"Kids are off from school and a lot of parents are off work, so this is a great way to encourage families to get out together," Reeves said.

Reeves also said that the commission believes that providing a recreational respite for Arkansans offsets any financial impact that 10 days of free fishing might entail.

"This comes at a time when we sell a lot of fishing licenses, and we need to sell them," Reeves said, "but we hope this will give families a respite from self-quarantine situations. Maybe it will encourage people to become fishermen and keep it going."

The free fishing days are different from the annual Free Fishing Weekend, which traditionally takes place in early June. Only the license requirements have been waived. Anglers must still abide by daily limits, possession limits and tackle restrictions. The free fishing provision does not restore fishing privileges to anglers whose fishing privileges have been revoked.

In 2005, the commission also waived non-resident hunting and fishing license requirements for Hurricane Katrina victims.

Sports on 03/20/2020

Print Headline: State commission waives fishing-license requirements

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