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The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission has announced more than 100 locations throughout Arkansas where people can check out fishing equipment for free.

The process is similar to checking out a library book.

The program was created to remove as many barriers to fishing as possible, said J.J. Gladden, coordinator of the AGFC's Aquatic Resources Education program, in a news release.

Most of the rod-and-reel combos available for loan are easy-to-use push-button or spincast reels for use with live or prepared bait.

Southwest Arkansas locations include the Mena Public library, Hopes Park and Recreation Office and Daisy State Park in Kirby.

Visit agfc.com for a complete list of tackle loaner locations to get started fishing.

Youth fishing derbies will be held in the next few months at state hatcheries.

The free derbies will be July 13, Aug. 10, Sept. 14 and Oct. 12. Youth ages 15 and under will fish for catfish in the education pond. Participants should bring their pole and some bait.

A limited supply of poles will be available on a first-come, first-served basis.

Prizes will be given for the largest and smallest catfish caught.

For more information, contact the Rick Evans Grandview Prairie Conservation Education Center at 870-983-2790 or visit agfc.com to find the nearest hatchery.

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