HOT SPRINGS – Dozens of 4- to 5-year-old Virginia pine trees once destined for people’s homes during the holidays are now standing watch over anglers’ presents at the bottom of Lake Hamilton. Thanks to a continued partnership with McAlpine Tree Farms in Bismarck, Arkansas Game and Fish Commission biologists and volunteer anglers have been able to add many new pieces of fish habitat around bank-fishing accesses at Lakes Hamilton and Catherine in Hot Springs.
“Harold and Bobbie McAlpine have given us hundreds of unsold and culled Christmas trees during the last decade,” said Brett Hobbs, AGFC District Fisheries Supervisor in Hot Springs. “They enjoy knowing the surplus trees are being put to good use by area anglers.”
Hobbs says the trees have been used in Lake Hamilton and DeGray Lake in many large offshore brush piles for anglers with boats in recent years, including three very large offshore attractors just east of DeGray State Park Lodge last year.
“All the GPS coordinates for fish attractors we’ve made are available on the AGFC’s interactive map (https://apps.agfc.com/mapper),” Hobbs said. “It would take an angler months to fish all of them in these two lakes alone.”
This year, biologists wanted to focus the efforts on bank-angling destinations to draw more fish closer to AGFC fishing piers on Lake Hamilton and Lake Catherine. Fishing piers at the Hulsey Hatchery Access and Sunnybrook Access were enhanced with dozens of the trees. Many more were placed around the AGFC fishing pier at Remmel Park (aka Jack’s Landing) on Lake Catherine.
“Our fishing piers are popular with anglers who do not have access to a boat,” Hobbs said. “Bream species (bluegill, redear sunfish, and longear sunfish) as well as largemouth bass and spotted bass readily use the cover afforded by the new habitat additions. Anglers will have an increased chance of connecting with fish making for a more enjoyable fishing experience.”
Brush piles were placed at a variety of distances from the piers to increase all fishing opportunities, no matter the skill level of the angler. Piles directly beneath the piers appeal to anglers using cane poles and jigging poles, while brush stationed 20 to 30 yards away offer anglers an opportunity to find more fish a single cast away from the pier.