Use of a Toll-free Stocking Hotline in an Urban Fishing Program
Author: Chris Racey
The Arkansas Game and Fish Commissionís Family and Community Fishing Program was developed in 2002, and catchable channel catfish, hybrid striped bass, and rainbow trout have been seasonally stocked into 36 ponds and streams around the state each subsequent year. One of the goals of the Program has been to provide families and children with a convenient and excellent chance to catch fish when going on a fishing trip. A toll-free stocking hotline was developed in January 2006 to enable urban anglers an opportunity to find out when and where fish had been stocked, and plan their fishing trips to urban destinations accordingly. The stocking hotline was changed seasonally to reflect information about the fish that were primarily being stocked at that time of year. Information was updated immediately after stockings were conducted, and consisted of immediate past stocking events, general fishing tips, and a direct option to reach urban fisheries personnel. Anglers placed over 5,000 calls and spent more than 6,700 minutes of call-time on the hotline between January and July 2006. The majority of Arkansas calls (80%) came from phone numbers in the Little Rock area, indicating a strong need for promotion of the hotline in other areas of the state. Surprisingly, calls were also placed from phone numbers originating in 10 states other than Arkansas. On average, the hotline cost less than $45 per month to operate, and saved the Commission approximately $1,320 in biologistís wages. A toll-free hotline is a popular, cheap, and cost effective means of supplying urban anglers with stocking information, allowing them to make informed decisions when choosing a day and location to fish.