Arkansas tempts British tourists by carps

Arkansas parks and tourism officials have partnered with a British marketing firm to find out whether the state can boost tourism numbers by appealing to carp lovers of Great Britain.

Most Americans consider carp "trash fish." The fish are too bony and are not good for eating, but the British love the sport of catching them and releasing them, tourism officials told the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette newspaper.

Neil Stern, a board member of the North American chapter of the Carp Anglers Group, told the newspaper that European fishermen view carp "as a good fighting friend."

"They are very, very respectful of these fish," Stern says. "Pound for pound, it's the toughest, roughest fighting fish there is."

The Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism is working with The Saltmarsh Partnership, based in London, to test whether the state can successfully develop carp fishing as a tourist attraction.

Recently, the state agency brought eight British fishermen to Arkansas for a trip on various lakes, including lakes Hamilton and Ouachita near Hot Springs and Lake Dardanelle near Russellville.

The group included members of a fishing travel group, four paying customers, and Chris Tarrant, host of the British version of "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire."