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.