HOT SPRINGS — The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission is offering up to $1,000 to youth fishing clubs for completing habitat projects in their home waters to help improve fishing opportunities on their home lakes.

Created in 2017 by the AGFC’s Black Bass Program, the Youth Tournament Fishing Organization Aquatic Habitat Program enables any fishing tournament organization affiliated with an Arkansas junior high, high school or college to apply for an award ranging from $500 to $1,000 for building and sinking brush piles or engaging in other habitat improvements in Arkansas lakes.

“There’s no requirement on what the funds are spent on to help the team,” Jeff Buckingham, Black Bass Program biologist with the AGFC, said. “It can be used for the habitat project, or the team can be resourceful and find free materials to use as habitat and keep the money to offset tournament expenses, pay for team jerseys or anything else that will help them grow.”

Buckingham says teams can reach out to him at the Black Bass Program or contact their local fisheries biologist to help brainstorm ways to collect materials.

“We can help coordinate with the club and the owner of the lake where they want to do their project to see what can be done to help,” Buckingham said. “We’ve used PVC, wood, natural brush and many other materials for fish attractors in the past and can help the kids and their sponsors think of materials that are safe for the water and low- to no cost.”

In addition to creating possible tournament-winning hotspots, these habitat projects can help the fishery. With additional ambush cover, predator fish such as bass and crappie are able to catch their prey using less energy, which can translate into better growth rates in the long run. Additionally, the

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