$10,000 Fish - Big Al II still at large

Fishing challenge ends with $10,000 Big Al II still at large

 OT SPRINGS (AGFC) – The 2013 $60,000 Hot Springs Fishing Challenge ended last week with Big Al the Second still on the lam.

"Despite all our efforts to apprehend him, which included tips on his location and species and tips on how to catch him, the $10,000 grand prize fish once again eluded all of our expert fishing pursuers," said Steve Arrison, CEO of Visit Hot Springs, the city's convention and visitors agency. "Big Al the First wasn't caught in the 2012 Challenge, either."

"We are going to take some time and evaluate the Fishing Challenge before deciding whether to do it for a third year in 2014," Arrison said. "We'd like to hear from the public before we make a decision. "I know from talking with people who operate marinas, lodging, restaurants and fishing supply stores that they believe the Fishing Challenge is one of the most popular things we do throughout the year.

Phillip Kastner of Trader Bills Outdoor Sports told Arrison, "I think it is one of the best promotions for the city ever devised. It not only attracts tourists but the locals can take advantage of it as well."

This year 11 of 53 prize fish were caught with a total prize payout of $9,500, Arrison said. That's 21 percent of the fish released into Lakes Hamilton and Catherine in late April. The challenge ran from May 1 to July 31. In 2012, 15 of the 53 fish (28 percent) were caught, with a prize payout of $9,750.

Arrison said Visit Hot Springs will confer with its partners at the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission's Andrew H. Hulsey Fish Hatchery and with interested members of the public for suggestions on how to make the next Fishing Challenge better if it's decided to continue it in 2014.