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Fort Smith nature center hosting couples trout-fishing derby

FORT SMITH – The Janet Huckabee Arkansas River Valley Nature Center will be hosting a free, couples-only fishing derby from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 9.

With Valentine’s Day right around the corner, many men and women are scrambling to find a sparkly or flashy gift for their special someone. In most cases the perfect gift is spending time together enjoying something as a couple. This fishing derby is for couples only, and unlike many of the fishing derbies hosted by the center, anglers must be 18 or older to participate.

Danielle Simmons, Arkansas Game and Fish Commission education program specialist at the center, says the 18 year old age requirement is because of the derby’s grand prize.

“We’ll be giving away a one-night stay for the winning couple at Mount Magazine State Park Lodge courtesy of the Arkansas Game and Fish Foundation,” Simmons said. “It is a great additional treat for a Valentine’s getaway.”

Simmons says the derby is mainly a way to remind people that the outdoors is always waiting to host an adventure with your significant other.

“It’s great to have a ‘date night’ to the movies or dinner, but there are so many more memories to be made from an outdoor outing,” Simmons said. “And outdoor adventures like hiking and fishing don’t cost nearly as much as a night on the town.”

The lake at the nature center will be stocked with trout for the event, and registration will begin at 9:30 a.m. Saturday morning.

All participants must have a fishing license and trout permit, but no additional fees are required. Each angler is allowed to keep five trout for a total limit of 10 fish per couple.

“We’ll fish until 1 p.m., then weigh everyone’s fish,” Simmons said. “The team with the heaviest weight from a possible 10-fish limit will win the getaway.”

Simmons says anglers may also take a break from fishing during the event and take a walk on the center’s many nature trails or visit some of the exhibits in the center.

“As long as you’re back by 1 p.m. to weigh your fish, you’re still entered into the derby,” Simmons said. “If you still feel the need to buy something flashy for Valentine’s Day, trout are suckers for chrome-bladed spinners.”