Catfish are present in almost all Arkansas waters and provide important recreational, commercial, and subsistence fisheries in many rivers, lakes, reservoirs, and streams. Approximately 18 percent of sport fishing effort statewide is directed toward catfish. The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission's Catfish Management Team evaluates catfish populations throughout the state and adjusts harvest limits to ensure healthy fisheries for the future while enabling anglers to make the most of their time chasing these highly valued fish for sport and food.
In addition to management of existing populations, the AGFC's fish hatcheries expend a tremendous amount of effort raising and stocking catfish to enhance angling experiences throughout the state. AGFC hatcheries produce up to 1.3 million catfish each year to provide anglers with increased angling opportunities.
Nearly 400,000 catfish produced each year by AGFC hatcheries are catchable-sized channel catfish, used to immediately bolster angling opportunities in rivers, AGFC-owned lakes and small bodies of water where fishing derbies take place. These 13- to 15-inch catfish also are used extensively in the AGFC's Family and Community Fishing Program to bring angling opportunities to people who may not have the means to get to one of the larger bodies of water in the state. Roughly 80,000 catchable-sized catfish are stocked in Family and Community Fishing Program Ponds in Spring and Fall, while another 100,000 or so are devoted to up to 300 fishing derbies throughout the year in Arkansas.