Gov. Brad Henry has signed SB 277, which will require fishing guides to obtain a license through the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation.
The Oklahoma Wildlife Conservation Commission meets Monday and is expected to adopt the fee and establish requirements for the guide license.
The state fishing license guide bill was hurriedly passed last week and is an attempt to stop the Coast Guard from enforcing its licensing requirements on fishing guides at Lake Texoma.
The U.S. Coast Guard posted flyers around Lake Texoma recently that it was going to start enforcing licensing requirements for operators of uninspected passenger vessels like fishing guides.
Regulations required by the Coast Guard are “way too stringent on a striper guide,” said Rep. Don Armes, R-Faxon, the House sponsor of SB 277.
Lake Texoma is considered “navigable waters” by federal statute and is under the jurisdiction of the U.S. Coast Guard because it is a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers lake.
The Coast Guard hasn’t enforced licensing requirements for 15 years on Lake Texoma, but it conducted a risk assessment on the lake after a fatality last month when a guide boat capsized.
Oklahoma’s Congressional delegation – Tom Cole, Dan Boren and Jim Inhofe – are trying to intervene to prevent the Coast Guard from exercising its regulatory authority.
In a joint news release issued Friday, Boren said that subjecting the average fishing guide to the level of licensing requirements that the U.S. Coast Guard designed for major ports and waterways was like swatting a fly with a hammer.
Boren is urging the Coast Guard to allow the state to regulate the fishing guides.
Armes thinks if there is state license already in place, the Coast Guard “probably doesn’t mess with it.”
But whether the Coast Guard will back off now that the state has its own fishing guide licensing law remains to be seen.