Photography by Dero Sanford
Arkansas is renowned for natural amenities that dazzle and delight the more than 300,000 outdoor enthusiasts who purchase an Arkansas fishing license each year. Of the many attractions that the Natural State boasts, fishing is one of the most accessible + popular. Rebecca Baker – aka Lady Angler Lentz – is an adventurer, but a self-admitted novice angler. Although new to fishing, her love of the sport is undeniable. She recognizes Arkansas Game & Fish Commission as an invaluable resource – specifically the Becoming An Outdoors Woman.
Since the turn of century, when Roosevelt placed a priority on America’s natural resources and Arkansas Game & Fish Commission was established, the agency has worked tirelessly to conserve and preserve the state’s fish and wildlife. This includes cultivating trout fisheries that have secured Arkansas as a world-class destination for fly fishing.
The water on the White River below Bull Shoals Dam is one of these developed habitats. Native warm-water fisheries evolved into colder temperatures more conducive to trout. “Trout are not native to Arkansas – the trout tailwaters are a result of cold-water discharge from the U.S. Army Corp of Engineer Dams,” explains Arkansas Game & Fish Commission Director Pat Fitts. “More than 100,000 anglers wade off into Arkansas waters annually in pursuit of rainbow and brown trout. When anglers purchase a fishing license, they help fund habitat work along the tailwaters and the cold-water hatchery that produces fish that can be stocked into these waters.”
As Arkansas gained notoriety for its healthy trout population – the state continues to welcome avid anglers, but remains steadfast in its inclusive nature. All levels of sportsmanship can enjoy the Natural State; including beginners – like Rebecca – with little experience or outdoorsman with formal knowledge. Rebecca realized, “Fishing really only requires three things – a license, very basic equipment and patience.” She was determined to learn as much as possible, but was overwhelmed with information and unsure how to navigate an introduction to the sport. “Arkansas Game & Fish Commission provides everything you need to know about fishing in the state, for every skill level.” In addition to this newfound passion, Rebecca discovered a community of like-minded women through BOW. “Becoming an Outdoors Woman introduces beginners to wilderness adventures and helps women participate in activities throughout the year.” Offering workshops, classes and camps – BOW is designed to provide woman inclusive opportunities to engage in the outdoors, from fishing and kayaking to archery and hunting.
Arkansas Game & Fish Commission remains a beacon for wildlife education as well as responsible + sustainable utilization of amenities. Its legacy includes wildlife and habitat protection with a finite focus on accessibility to all Arkansans. Rebecca admits there is always something to learn and relies on AGFC to improve her skills and knowledge. “I want other women to fall in love with fly fishing for the right reasons, at any age. I absolutely love how my mind becomes more quiet on the water; it’s nature’s therapy.”