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Here’s how Hot Springs fishermen can win twenty thousand dollars



Hot Springs, Arkansas – The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission and Visit Hot Springs are hosting a competition that has the potential to turn a fish into cash.

Fishermen like Charles Keller have been visiting Lake Hamilton virtually daily as a result of this competition, and after more than 60 years, he has an impressive collection of catches and lessons to offer.

“Now, if a fish hits it, you’ll feel that pole bump,” Keller said, “You gotta be patient. Oh, patience is a virtue.”
Just last week, his patience was tested while on a fishing trip with a friend.

“He done caught about 12 fish and I only caught one and made a cast out there [and] missed several,” he described.
However, on the very next cast, Keller said something bit.

“When I lifted up, I could see a pink tag sticking out of it. And I looked at the tag and it said Hot Springs money fish. And the flip side it said to call this number,” he said.

Keller made a call, and the person on the other end was Alexis Hampo from Visit Hot Springs.

“I’m holding the fish phone right now. I can’t leave it alone because I get too nervous,” Hampo said. “You never know when somebody’s going to call.”

She described the long-standing Hot Springs custom of the fish phone’s round-the-clock duty.

“You call that number on the tag fish and it’ll get you in touch with the right people to come and verify that catch,” Hampo added.

The idea behind the fish phone is an annual Hot Springs Fishing Challenge wherein fish valued at $110,000 are caught in Lake Hamilton and Lake Catherine.

“There are 66 tagged fish between the two lakes. There are four different species of fish that we have tagged,”
Hampo said. “[Visit Hot Springs has] been teaming up with Arkansas Game and Fish for a while to really incentivize people during the summer months to get out and come out to our beautiful lakes and enjoy fishing.”

The winners’ patience paid off as they just took home a $5,000 fish, one of the many prizes available, ranging from $500 to $20,000.

“It’s taken me sixty-two years to catch one money fish but it’s well worth it,” Keller described.

The tournament is open until the end of July, so he’s hoping to pick up the fish phone once more.
He’s just loving every cast in between for now.

“You’re not gonna catch a fish every cast. You might not catch a fish for a couple of hours. But if you just come out and relax and enjoy yourself and enjoy the beauty of nature, that’s worth more than anything,” Keller explained.
With dozens of tagged fish still swimming in Lake Hamilton and Lake Catherine, fishermen can try their luck anytime through July 31st.


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