Is Arbuckle Lake now the best big bass lake in the state?
It seems no other lake in the state has consistently produced trophy bass like Arbuckle has the last two years.
Arbuckle always has been considered a good fishing lake, but two years ago it burst on the big bass scene when several anglers started pulling double-digit lunkers from of the lake.
Arbuckle was making the news again last year with more reports of big fish, headlined by Allen Gifford’s 14-pound, 8-ounce largemouth on Feb. 27 that was just three ounces shy of the state record.
It looks to be another great year of bass fishing at Arbuckle. Last Sunday, during the Backyard Bassin’ fall/winter tournament championship, two fish weighing more than 9 pounds and an 11-pounder was caught at the lake near Davis.
Rodney Richards Jr. of Ardmore (above photo) landed the 11-pounder. Gene Gilliland, fisheries biologist for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation, said the stocking of Florida-strain bass seems to be coming of age.
No doubt, Arbuckle will be a prime destination in the coming weeks for bass fishermen.
The hunting seasons are winding down and now is perfect time to plan a trout fishing trip.
In addition to Oklahoma’s two year-round trout fisheries on the Lower Illinois and Lower Mountain Fork Rivers, the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation stocks rainbow trout in the winter in six places: Blue River, Lake Pawhuska, Lake Watonga, Robbers Cave, Quartz Mountain and Lake Carl Etling.
The best of these winter trout areas, in my opinion, is Blue River. It’s a beautiful stream (above photo is fly fisherman Jamie Webster of Pauls Valley at the Blue River) near Tishomingo that is worth a day trip if you haven’t been there. Scotty’s One Stop shop near the Blue River entrance can supply you with trout fishing gear and info.
Lake Pawhuska and Lake Watonga are the next best of the state’s winter areas. Quartz Mountain and Robbers Cave are not worth the drive just for the trout fishing, but they are beautiful places and if you are going there anyway, pack a fishing rod.
The state stocks most of the winter areas every two weeks and you can see the schedule on www.wildlifedepartment.com.
In Oklahoma City, trout anglers will want to check out Dolese Pond near NW 50 and Meridian this weekend. The city stocked rainbows on Thursday and while stocking day is a popular day to go fishing, I’ve been told by seasoned trout anglers that it often takes these hatchery-raised trout a day or two to get acclimated to their new surroundings and figure out they’re hungry.
So this weekend should be prime for good trout fishing at Dolese. You need city licenses and permits in addition to a state fishing license and Legacy permit. A state trout license is not needed for Dolese. Other stocking dates this season at Dolese are Feb. 5 and 19.
Since hatchery-raised trout have been fed a diet of pellets high in fish oil, the dough baits like Berkley Power Bait are good choices for trout bait, and you can even rub some tuna fish oil or sardine oil on them to increase your chances of getting a bite.
For artificial baits, lures like Rooster Tails, Super Dupers, Panther Martins, Mepps spinners and tiny spoons are recommended.
Most of the state’s winter areas will be open for trout fishing through March. The trout fishing at Dolese ends Feb. 28.
I recieved an e-mail from a reader who took issue with my story about the Texas bow hunter who couldn’t find a downed deer on his own but was aided by an Oklahoma tracker with his dog.
“The article in Sunday’s paper was very disappointing to true sportsman,” he wrote. “The sad reality is this hunter did not deserve the rack of the buck he wounded nor did he deserve the help that he received.
“A dirty little secret that most bow hunters won’t admit to is that they “often” take chance shots at deer either too far or at poor angles and just hope for the best. This man was apparently a novice at best and obviously executed a by not fatally wounding the deer in a manner which would have enabled him to recover it.
“To use this as an example of justification for allowing dogs to be used in the deer fields is absolutely absurd. The burden of trying to discern what the dogs are being used for would wreak havoc for game wardens and all hunters.
“A real significant change that would resolve mose of these unfortunate scenarios would be to require bow hunters to qualify at a target range before being issued licenses and even re-qualify after a few years. That would be a good path of improving skills, enjoyment of the hunting experience and minimizing wasted game.”
I agree that hunters have an ethical responsibility at shot placement, but I also would argue that anyone can miss their mark and lose a deer.
The reader agreed with me, and later suggested that perhaps the state Wildlife Department could manage such a service by means of an 800 number and dispatching from a contact list of willing trackers.
“It might bring in additional revenues,” he wrote.
If you like to fish but have never tangled with the Oklahoma Marlin, plan a trip this spring to northeastern Oklahoma when the paddlefish are running.
More Oklahomans are discovering that paddlefish, or spoonbills, are a thrill to catch. Or, to be more precise, snag.
More than 4,000 paddlefish were checked in at the state Wildlife Department’s fish cleaning station at Twin Bridges State Park on Grand Lake last spring, where state wildlife officials had set up a temporary fish cleaning stationing.
They cleaned the fish for free in exchange for eggs from the female spoonbills. The eggs were then processed into caviar and then sold. The state made 8,000 pounds of caviar which were sold to wholesalers for $1.5 million.
The fish cleaning for caviar trade was such a hit in its first year that the state Wildlife Department is planning to build a permanent fish cleaning station at Twin Bridges State Park.
Paddlefishing on Grand Lake has always been a popular destination for years for out of state anglers, especially those from nearby Missouri and Kansas.
But state wildlife officials said anglers from 46 states, and even Puerto Rico, obtained permits to fish for paddlefish in Oklahoma last year, although they can’t be sure how many actually used them. The only states not represented were North Dakota, Maine, Delaware and Vermont.