After my recent column on GPS units, Carl and Barbara Berryman of Altus emailed me to share this story of how useful a GPS unit can be.
“You asked for GPS stories recently and we have one that impressed us when it happened,” Carl said in an email. “We have a Cobra GPS 500, which we had used mostly to mark productive spots and used the go to feature to get there or follow the track if they were in a creek we didn’t know.
“We were planning a fishing trip to Ray Roberts Lake (fondly called Ray Bob by the local fishermen) down in Texas and I had previously purchased a map of the lake so we could plan the best place to put in and fish. We both like to use spinnerbaits so we decided to fish Buck Creek as it has a lot of brush in it.
“We reserved a room in the Four Horsemen Lodge in Pilot Point, Texas, so we could be close to the Buck Creek Boat Ramp, which is about 3 miles away.
“As you have told in your stories many times, the fish were not where we wanted them to be (back in the creek). We had seen many bass boats flying through the thick brush that day, obviously following the narrow, winding creek bed toward the main lake.
“When were were at the ramp getting ready to leave, one of those boats that charged through the creek, came in and the driver told us the fish were off the points and islands about five miles out and they had not moved into the creeks yet.
“The next morning, with the GPS plugged in and turned on, we waited for one of those bass boats to charge by and I powered up and at a safe distance, followed this boat 2 or 3 miles out to James Point and Big Bass Point and had a very enjoyable fishing day.
“I put the route in a track and named it RAY BOB; something very clever and we could charge through the brushy trail just like we were locals. In fact, a couple of guys in a boat that followed us in commented that we had to be from around there to know the creek that well.
“I pointed to the Cobra GPS and told them we owed it to the GPS. They found it hard to believe that it was that accurate, but I knew it was because I had checked it out before.
“Ed, as you said in your article, ‘a GPS is a handy gadget to have.’ After that experience, we don’t leave home without it.”
Want to catch a bass worth $100,000?
The largest amateur bass tournament in the country is less three weeks away and somebody is going to walk away from it with $100,000.
The tournament is close to home. The Arkansas Big Bass Bonanza, held on the Arkansas River in the state of Arkansas from Fort Smith to Dumas, is June 27-29.
The angler catching the biggest bass in the tourney will win $100,000.
The tournament attracts several Oklahoma fisherman each year among a field of around 3,000 anglers. Entry fee is $80 per day to fish in the tournament but that goes up to $90 per day after Thursday.
Anglers can choose to fish one, two or all three days of the tournament. The river is divided into five fishing pools with each pool having an official weigh-in site. Cash prizes are awarded each hour for the biggest fish from each pool.
To learn more or enter the tournament, go to www.arkansasbigbassbonanza.com.
Chuck Justice, who guides on McGee Creek and has caught more double-digit bass than anyone I know, called me Wednesday. He invited me to go fishing sometime this summer, which I am always happy to do.
Then he told me that the bass fishing on some of the lakes in southeastern Oklahoma is better than its ever been in his lifetime. And that is saying something because he is a grandpa.
Now, fishing guides are often prone to hyperbole, but Chuck is usually a pretty straight shooter. But I had to question this one. Better than its ever been in his lifetime?
“Oh, c’mon, Chuck,” I said. “That’s a pretty bold statement.”
“I really believe it,” he answered, then he went on to tell me how he’s never seen better bass fishing on Pine Creek and Hugo lakes.
He told of a day recently when he and a friend caught 70 fish in the Kiamichi River on Hugo Lake in a short time, and many of those were 4- to 7-pounders.
Anglers are having to catch 25 pounds plus to win some bass tournaments on these southeast Oklahoma lakes, he said.
Justice is usually bragging on McGee Creek, and sometimes Sardis, when he calls, but now he was boasting with the same enthusiasm about Pine Creek, Hugo and Broken Bow.
So I called Gene Gilliland, bass tournament angler and fisheries biologist for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation, and asked him what he thought about Chuck’s statement.
“I have heard some stories about some really great days on Pine Creek and Hugo,” Gilliland said. “Hugo has been very good for the last couple of years. Broken Bow has been on the upswing for both largemouth and smallmouth.”
Justice’s theory is high water levels in recent years has provided cover and survival for young bass and now they have grown to catchable sizes.
But he can’t be talking about recent flooding, such as last year’s floods.
Gilliland said a 4-pound bass would be the result of the spawn five or six years ago. But southeastern Oklahoma lakes have been high at times over the past several years, so it wouldn’t surprise Gilliland if the bass population is higher in those lakes.
Justice thinks the bass fishing is better in both quality and quantity (numbers and size of fish) across the board in southeastern Oklahoma, but especially at Hugo and Pine Creek.
But the way to be sure is to check it out for yourself. That’s what I plan to do.
Thumbs up to the Oklahoma Wildlife Conservation Commission for voting Monday to make it a policy to prohibit wind energy development on all of the state’s public wildlife management areas.
Earlier this year, a controversy erupted when OG&E wanted to build a wind farm on the Cooper Wildlife Management Area near Woodward. After a public outcry from sportsmen, OG&E backed off and withdrew its proposal.
A committee of state wildlife commissioners, however, continued with a study on the issue with the purpose of making a recommendation to the full commission.
The committee concluded wind farms on the public land would be a bad idea. At its monthly meeting Monday, state wildlife commissioners voted 8-0 to approve a resolution to prohibit wind turbines on state Wildlife Department owned wildlife management areas.
Commissioner John Groendyke, who is on OG&E’s Board of Directors, abstained from the vote.
“The construction, maintenance and operation of wind farms and their electrical transmission lines will in some instances conflict with the agency’s mission,” the resolution states. “Wind farms and their transmission infrastructure can damage wildlife habitat, contribute to habitat fragmentation and adversely affect behavior, movement and in some caes reproduction of wildlife species in a large area surrounding such facilities.
“While the primary objectives of these lands is wildlife management and the first priority of public use of WMAs is to permit hunting, fishing, trapping, running dogs for sport and associated activities, restrictions on human activity due to wind farms would result in loss of public use of these areas both in quantity and quality.”
State wildlife commissioners made the right move. The public’s wildlife management areas belong to the sportsmen of the state. Wind turbines not only would disrupt wildlife but ruin the “outdoors” experience for us all.