What happens at the lake stays at the lake, unless there's a big fish involved. Then it gets spread all over town in the Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette's annual fish story contest.
This year we've got even bigger fish to fry in the prize category, and more prizes to give away. Not only does the winner receive the traditional prize zipper bag stuffed with fishing lures, he gets a $100 gift card, compliments of the newspaper.
If that's not enough, each entry received will be published online and all readers can vote for your favorite fish story in the reader's choice division. That winner also gets a $100 gift card.
Time to fire up the computer, dig out the Big Chief tablet or write your true fish story on a napkin and enter it in the contest.
Here are the official rules: 1. Write down your story. 2. Send it in.
We'll accept entries through May 31 at fish story central. Then, in June, we'll announce the winner right here in NWA Outdoors. Anyone who loves fishing -- from kids to adults -- can get in on the fun.
Simply email your true fish story, no tall tales, to [email protected] Type Fish Story Contest in the subject line. Or snail mail your story to Fish Story Contest, Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, 212 N. East Ave., Fayetteville, AR, 72701. Either way, be sure to include your name and the town you live in or near. Postal entries should include a phone number. Got a photo to send with your story? Include that with your entry.
All fish story scribes instantly become published authors by having their prose published online or right here in NWA Outdoors. We'll run as many stories as we can fit into the outdoors section, and we'll publish each and every story online at nwaonline.com.
Our trio of fish-story magistrates can't wait to read your stories and judge this prestigious literary competition. Judging this year is Mike Shirkey of Fayetteville, who's returning for his second tour of duty as a fish story judge. Fish swim for their lives when Mike shows up on the bank with a fishing pole. He's also host of "The Pickin' Post," heard at 7 p.m. each Saturday on KUAF.
Also donning a judge's robe is Gina Scott of Rogers, an avid reader who loves a good story so much she's treasurer of the Friends of the Rogers Public Library. Talk about a judge with experience, Gina just finished as a judge of the National Federation of Press Women annual contest.
That's some pretty high toned stuff there, but Gina promises to take it easier on the fish story contestants.
Rounding out the panel is our chief judge, my cat, T.C., champion of the 20-hour power nap. She's the sister of my late tom cat, Boat Dock, who was chief fish story judge and our feline outdoors columnist for years. Boat Dock lifted off to life No. 10 some years back, but I like to think somehow Boat Dock has an eye on his sister, making sure her judging is up to snuff.
Not only do we give away great prizes, we help you win.
Here's a fish-story tip: No long winded fish novel has ever won the contest, and we've been doing this since we put out the newspaper with stone tablets and a chisel. Short and sweet gets the lures -- and a gift card.
You can't beat the fishing during April in Arkansas. Time to hit the water and get material for your own championship story. You never know what'll happen when that hook hits the water.
Flip Putthoff can be reached at [email protected]