April showers and cold spring weather has delayed spawning at many Oklahoma lakes, but fish should be moving back into shallow water as the weather warms.
The rain has raised lake levels to the point where bass anglers can actually fish some cover instead of a mud bank. The bass fishing should be getting good soon.
Edwin Evers of Talala and Stacey King of Reed Springs, Mo., have qualified for 18 Bassmaster Classics between them, so they know how to catch fish.
Evers said if you see a large bass swipe and miss your lure, immediately toss a different
lure back in the same place.
“Plastic worms, hard or soft jerkbaits, suspended minnow plugs, and other slow-moving
lures are the best,” he said.
“Try a large triple wing buzzbait around cover on cloudy days, when the water is warm
and the surface is calm and unrippled.
Troll with deep diving plugs in deep water. Use big lipped divers that will dig along the
bottom. Slowly troll within 60 to 100 feet of line out. Pay special attention to channels,
humps, and shoals.”
Small lakes that are not heavily pressured tend to be very good bets for catching
large bass because the fish are more accessible throughout the season, he said.
Most Oklahoma lakes will be moving into a post-spawn stage of bass fishing soon, and King likes soft jerkbaits when bass are in shallow water during the post-spawn period.
“During this time, bass usually ignore other baits but they love this lure’s
tantalizing action,” he said. “They sink slowly, which means you can put them right in front of a bass.”
The design of these baits causes them to ride horizontally in the water instead of sinking nose down, he said.
It can be fished on the surface or let it sink a little, then twitch it between
pauses. This will cause it to dart upward like a wounded baitfish and then slowly
“Six-inch baits are the most popular but when they get really picky, go to smaller
sizes,” King said. “Best conditions to use them are clear water and calm weather.”
The hottest bass fishing in Oklahoma this year has been on Arbuckle Lake.
The lake with the emerald waters in south-central Oklahoma near Davis has a reputation for quality smallmouth bass plus numerous largemouth bass with the occasional trophy-size largemouth of 8 pounds are better.
But this year Arbuckle Lake has coughed up several double-digit size largemouth bass, including a 13-pound brute for one angler. Last month during a tournament of the Little Dixie Bass Club of Durant, the seven-fish winning stringer from Arbuckle weighed more than 41 pounds, anchored by an 11 and 1/2 pound fish.
Bob Myers of Pauls Valley, who guides for smallmouth bass on Arbuckle, said he knows of two other 11-plus pound largemouths and another 10-pounder that have been caught there this year.
“The lake has always been good in early spring, but to catch that many good fish is really unusual,” he said. “There’s more this year than I ever heard of before. I don’t why.”
Barry Bolton, acting chief of fisheries for the state Wildlife Department, also was puzzled why Arbuckle was fishing so strong this year.
“We have been hearing about the trophy-size fish this year, but there is not really a good explanation why these fish are showing up now,” he said. “But I think anglers ought to take advantage of it.”
Myers said fishing at Arbuckle Lake is often “hit and miss” but he expects it to be good once again when the water warms up.
Before the recent cold front, the bass fishing had been going strong on several southeastern Oklahoma lakes – McGee Creek, Broken Bow, Pine Creek, Hugo – where anglers were catching 20-plus pound five-fish stringers to win bass tournaments.
And Konawa Lake – which always has quanity but not always quality when it comes to largemouth bass – does have some big bass in it, as evident by the recent electrofishing survey of the state Wildlife Department.
Danny Bowen, in the Holdenville fishery office of the state Wildlife Department, reported shocking up a 7-pound, 11-ounce largemouth during last week’s sampling of Lake Konawa. Also shocked up was a 7 pound, 8 ounces largemouth; a 7 pound, 4 ounce largemouth; and a 6-pounder.
“And lots and lots of smaller bass as usual,” Bowen said.
Spring turkey season is open in Oklahoma and the National Wild Turkey Federation urges hunters to practice the following safety tips when it comes to hunting attire.
1. Never wear bright colors, especially not red, white, blue or black because these are the colors of a wild turkey gobbler.
2. Wear dark undershirts and socks, and pants long enough to be tucked into boots.
3. Camouflage your gun.
4. Keep your hands and head camouflaged when calling.
5. Select a spot that is in the open timber rather than thick brush: wearing camouflage clothing and eliminating movement is more critical to success than hiding in heavy cover.
6. When using a camouflage blind or netting, maintain a clear field of view
In addition, the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation also has issued the following safety tips for turkey hunters.
1. Always keep your firearm pointed in a safe direction.
2. Treat every firearm as if it were loaded.
3. Be sure of your target and what is beyond.
4. Know your hunting area and its safe zone of fire.
5. If hunting with companions, know their locations.
Most hunters, when hearing a gobbler, try to get as close as possible before calling. However, other hunters may be calling or working the same bird. Don’t compete with other hunters. If you’re unsure about another hunter’s position, stop calling and reassess the situation.
When you are ready to start hunting or calling, sit at the base of a tree which has a trunk wider than your body. This way you can see an approaching hunter and you are protected from the rear. Use this position to call so you can see in all directions for turkeys or hunters.
Safety-conscious hunters are very careful when using a decoy. If you decide to use one, place it so you will be out of the line of fire. Put a tree between you and the decoy. If you are in the open, place the decoy so it faces directly toward or away from you and can be seen by approaching hunters from all directions. Always carry decoys in a bag or backpack going to and from hunting sites.
Your turkey calls may sound like a real turkey to other hunters, so be alert. Don’t use calls that imitate a gobbler. Experienced turkey hunters believe it’s dangerous and unnecessary. Also, electronic turkey calls are illegal in Oklahoma.
When another hunter approaches you, don’t wave your hand as a signal. This movement could trigger a shot. Instead, shout to the other person since there isn’t much chance a hunter will mistake your voice.
The most critical moment of any turkey hunt is when you decide to pull the trigger. Be absolutely sure the bird you see is a legal turkey. In the ‘gobbler only’ season, this means you must see the beard as a positive means of identifying the bird. Never shoot at noise, movement or color.
Once you have bagged your turkey or have decided to quit hunting for the day, unload your firearm. If you’re an annual license/permit holder and have shot a turkey, you are required to complete the Record of Game section on the back of the license form.
All persons, including lifetime license holders, taking a turkey must immediately upon harvesting a bird, securely attach their name and hunting license number to either leg of the harvested bird. Then wrap the bird in camouflage or blaze orange before carrying it through the woods. Walking through the woods wearing a blaze orange vest using the most visible route to your vehicle will also help protect you
Mountain Lions are a controversial subject in Oklahoma. State wildlife officials acknowledge there are a few here, but not nearly as many as the sightings that are reported by the public. On the flip side, some Oklahomans think there are a lot more big cats here than state wildlife officials care to admit.
No one really knows, but photos on the Internet such as the ones e-mailed to me Tuesday night help spread the suspicion. The photos show a mountain lion on somebody’s patio in Watonga.
I traveled through Watonga a couple of weeks ago, and after seeing these photos, decided the next time I better be packing a sidearm.
The Oklahoma Wildlife Conservation Commission last month passed a measure making it legal to shoot a mountain lion if deemed a nuisance or a threat, but Gov. Brad Henry has yet to sign it into law. Judging from these photos, this menacing mountain lion looks threatening enough.
But then I called Micah Holmes at the state Wildlife Department to see if anyone there knew about the Watonga cat and who took the photos. I wanted to interview this guy. Holmes had seen the photos before, and directed me to www.snopes.com/photos/animals/patiomountainlion.asp
Posted there on that Web site devoted to debunking Urban Legends and rumors were the same mountain lion photos. And according to the Web site, those photos have been circulated via numerous e-mails which reported the mountaion lion as being on patios in Iowa, Nebraska, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Missouri, New York and South Dakota.
Now add Oklahoma to the list. According to the Web site, the photos actually were taken in 2001 or 2002 in Wyoming.
Just like that photo of the huge alligator gar that was reportedly caught at Broken Bow Lake a couple of years, this was another Internet hoax. Too bad the truth gets in the way of a good story.
- Ed Godfrey