The Wall Street Journal had a story on its front page today about alligator gar fishing in Texas.
Fishing guides in Texas are getting $750 a day to chase these prehistoric monsters. Texas placed limits on the fish this year because of the growing popularity of bowfishing for alligator gar.
Here is a link to the story: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB124631318638370373.html
Oklahoma also placed limits on alligator gar of one per day for each angler. That rule went into effect in January.
Mostly bowfishermen go after alligator gar, but catch and release is allowed when fishing for alligator gar with rod and reels, trot lines or throw lines.
No fishing by any method is allowed on the Red River during the month of May, the spawning season for alligator gar.
State wildlife officials know little about the population of alligator gars in Oklahoma and implemented the new regulations to err on the side of caution to protect the species.
Most of the big ones in Oklahoma reside in the Red River, where anglers have caught alligator gars weighing nearly 200 pounds.
The Trinity River in east Texas is where bowfishermen shoot most of the giant ones, but Sam Rayburn Reservoir in deep east Texas also produces trophy alligator gar.
In fact, a photo that often circulates on the Internet of a big alligator gar supposedly taken by bowfishermen from Broken Bow Lake actually came from the Sam Rayburn Reservoir in 2005.
I read an interesting article out of California the other day.
A reader, who used to enjoy noodling for flathead catfish back home, asked an outdoor writer if noodling was legal in his new place of residence.
The answer from the scribe was that noodling was illegal in California because the sport was dangerous. People have drowned while noodling, he said.
This is true. People have drowned while noodling. They have also drowned while swimming, boating, fishing, scuba diving and everything else you can do on or in the water.
Noodling, like anything else, can be dangerous if you don’t use a little common sense. But I don’t think safety is the real reason noodling is illegal in California.
I think California – like every other state that outlaws noodling – doesn’t want to be associated with the redneck image of the sport.
Filmmaker Bradley Beesley certainly found some colorful characters for his “Okie Noodling” documentaries, which branded Oklahoma as the king of the handful of hand-fishing states.
Sure, there are toothless and tattooed Okies who enjoy noodling. Several Oklahoma game wardens also enjoy noodling.
Missouri is another state that doesn’t allow noodling. As a result, some fishermen there formed “Noodlers Anonymous,” a modern day group of Jesse James types who practice hand-fishing outside the law.
Missouri uses a wildlife conservation argument to ban noodling. They say the catfish population would be severely harmed if noodling were legal.
Since flathead catfish are on the nests when they are noodled, too many catfish would be taken and too many eggs destroyed if hand-fishing were allowed, according to Missouri wildlife officials.
It’s a better argument than noodling is dangerous, but I don’t buy this theory either.
Jug liners and trot liners harvest more fish. There are not enough noodlers out there to do that much harm to catfish populations.
According to the 2007 angler survey by the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation, only .03 percent of all fishermen in the state are noodlers.
Noodlers get more than their share of publicity because it is an extreme sport, but there are only a few thrill seekers brave enough – or crazy enough – to blindly stick their hands and wiggle their fingers in an underwater crevice to get a flathead catfish to bite them.
So, in my opinion, California and Missouri are just noodling snobs. Instead of making criminals out of noodlers, they should embrace the sport, like Oklahoma.
Look at all of the attention we have gotten from noodling. I still say a flathead catfish on our state quarter would be a better conversation piece than a scissor-tail fly catcher.
Last year at the annual Okie Noodling Tournament in Pauls Valley, I even met a man who brought his whole family from Canada to Oklahoma, just so he could stick his hand in a huge flathead’s mouth.
He went noodling on the Red River and had a great time. Those are tourism dollars that California and Missouri will never see.
DeLorme is introducing new innovations for recreational GPS users. Here’s what’s new:
The Earthmate PN-30 GPS, the company’s latest handheld GPS. It displays aerial imagery, NOAA nautical charts, and USGS topo maps;
Topo USA 8.0 with updated road and trail detail (including streets and roads for Canada), plus new geocaching and in-vehicle GPS navigation features;
Support for Navionics, the pre-eminent name in lake and marine charts;
Cache Register, a one-of-a-kind desktop widget that delivers true paperless geocaching in a fast, streamlined manner.
For more information about each of this, visit the company’s Web site at www.delorme.com/about/pressreleaseandnews.aspx
Tyrel Lovelace, a 2009 graduate of Anadarko High School, went to Maui on his senior trip as part of his graduation gift from his parents, Pamela & Craig Lovelace.
While in Maui, Tyrel was taken on a deep sea fishing trip and caught a trophy Pacific Blue Marlin weighing 592.4 lbs. The fight to land the fish was 90 minutes and Tyrel was exhausted when it was over.
The fish was brought in to Lahaina harbor and at the time, was the biggest Blue Marlin to be caught there this season.
Blue Marlin are the true giants of the sport fish world, They lurk in the waters surrounding the Hawaiian Islands, waiting to pounce on an unsuspecting tuna or a lure bubbling and splashing behind a boat.
They are generally loners and put on a spectacular battle when hooked, jumping all over the surface while also staying under and fighting down and dirty. Battles with these monsters can last three hours or more.
Blue Marlin are caught trolling artificial lures and live baiting. The blue marlin average 200 pounds, but that number is skewed because the male fish rarely exceed that.
All the larger fish are generally females. They range in size from 100 to 1,000 pounds and the largest Blue marlin caught anywhere in the world was caught in Hawaii, 1,805 pounds.
A weekend catfishing trip on Fort Cobb Lake for an Edmond man and his two friends was certainly worth it.
It produced a 66-pound flathead on a jug line that has now been certified by the state Wildlife Department as a new lake record.
Cleaves, George Young of Enid and Lance Ward of Mannford were astonished when they were checking their jug line last Saturday afternoon.
“We pulled up to (the jug) and Lance grabbed it and then had a funny look on his face,” Cleaves said.
“I could tell by that look that it was something big. He yelled to George to get the net.
“George moved over to Lance and the fish just surfaced and then went to flapping and trying to dive back down.
“We were yelling to George, ‘Get him in the net!’”
”George threw the net down and reached in mouth of the fish and pulled him in. It was awesome and we were all yelling and high fiving.”
Cleaves even got the scene on video which you can watch at this link:
Wister Lake apparently is home to the state’s biggest flatheads.
A Howe man has landed a new state record flathead catfish on a rod and reel.
Tommy Couch’s 76-pound flathead was caught on a red worm from the Poteau River below Wister Dam on June 13.
It beats the old record of 72-pounds, 8 ounces by Ron Cantrell in 2004 from El Reno lake.
Ironically, while Couch’s beast is a new state record, it won’t be the lake record.
The biggest flathead ever on record in Oklahoma also was pulled from Wister Lake. That was a 106-pound giant that was taken in 1977 on a trotline.
Oklahoma keeps state records in two divisions: catches on a rod and reel and in an unrestricted division, which is every other kind of catching that is legal.
But for lake records, there is no distinction.
According to a news release from the state Wildlife Department, Couch thought he had caught a carp when he was reeling in the huge flathead.
“He stayed right along the bank and right along the bottom,” Couch said, similar to carp he has landed in the past. “When his tail finally came up — that’s when I realized what he was.”
Couch was fishing the old Poteau River channel below the Wister Dam when he landed his state record.
He was not having much luck using night crawlers, so he switched to red worms and caught the fish just after 1 p.m. The catfish measured 51 1/2” in length and had a girth of 58 1/4.”
Couch was using a Ambassadeur 5000 reel on a Master Spector 10′ graphite rod. His 20 lb. test line was rigged with a 2-0 Eagle Claw hook.
Couch said he has never had a fish fight on the line quite like his record fish — or like a catfish in general, which is one reason he recommends catfish angling to other sportsmen.
Couch is an avid catfish angler, and he said “anytime the barometer is rising” is a good time to be casting for catfish.
Flathead catfish are popular among Oklahoma anglers, as are channel catfish and blue catfish. All three catfish are readily available in the state’s lakes, ponds and rivers, and they can be caught using a variety of methods, including rod and reel, trotlining, juglining, limblining and noodling.
Couch had initially considered donating the fish to an aquarium facility, but it died before he found a location that would accept it.
He and friends decided to eat the fish and have already sampled the meat.
If you are like me, you are always looking for free stuff. Well, here is good opportunity for the kids this weekend.
The Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation is sponsoring its ninth annual “Kid’s Camp” at the Cherokee Wildlife Management Area on Saturday.
The free one-day camp for ages 15 and younger runs from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Campers will get insturction on archery, BB guns, paint ball, .22 rifle, muzzle-loading firearms and shotguns.
The Cherokee WMA is about 10 miles east of Fort Gibson on SH 62.
For more information, call Ron Justice at (918) 260-8959.
White bass have been schooling on several lakes across Oklahoma.
I have personally recieved reports of sand bass busting the surface on Arbuckle, Grand and Eufaula lakes in recent days.
At Grand, some white bass have been weighing it at 3 pounds are better.
But 1 to 2 pound sandies are perfect for filets but not so big that a lot of red meat has to be trimmed out of them.
Grab some crankbaits, spoons and curly-tailed grubs and head to the lake for some hot summer action for white bass, or sand bass as they are often called.
Early in the morning or at dusk is typically is the best time to find the sandies schooling, but as summer progresses you might even find them surfacing in the middle of the day.
In addition to Eufaula, Grand and Arbuckle, other Oklahoma lakes with a reputation for good summer sand bass fishing include Tenkiller, Broken Bow and Canton.
So it was the Oklahoma River that made the triathletes sick.
ESPN is even reporting the Oklahoma River story. Not great publicity.
Bet some folks at city hall wish it was still called the North Canadian River now…
Gary Giudice of Norman is leaving Thursday for a month-long trout fishing trip up the spine of the Rocky Mountains.
He and his friend, Ed Weber, are going to let the insects guide their way.
They plan to follow the insect hatches on streams from Arizona to Canada. Giudice will be blogging on the trip beginning Monday on ESPNOutdoors.com…
Oklahoma will get a new state wildlife director next month. Greg Duffy, director of the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation for the past 17 years, is retiring at the end of the month.
Duffy is currently the longest serving state wildlife director in the country. His assistant, Richard Hatcher, already has been appointed by the Oklahoma Wildlife Conservation Commission to succeed him…
Some fishing guides are grumbling about the new state license they are now required to buy along with a minimum of $500,000 liability insurance.
But here’s the real rub. Even with the guide’s license, they still have to buy a regular state fishing license…
Looking for some free entertainment? The Cowboy Mounted Shooting Association’s Behlen Classic begins Thursday at the Lazy E Arena near Guthrie.
Competitors have to ride through a variety of courses and shoot 10 balloon targets using specially loaded blank cartridges fired from Old-West style single action revolvers.
The competitor who rides the fastest with the least misses wins. Competition is from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. each day through Sunday. Admission is free.
On Saturday night, the “Top Ten Showcase” professional series features the nation’s top 10 horses and riders in Cavalry Class, Rifle Class and Colt Eliminator finals.
Action begins at 7 p.m. and it also is free.
By the way, you can now follow me on twitter.com.
Legislation has been introduced in Congress that will remove Lake Texoma from the U.S. Coast Guard’s regulatory authority.
Because Lake Texoma is designated as a “federal navigable waterway,” the U.S. Coast Guard governs Lake Texoma and earlier this year threatened to enforce its licensing regulations on fishing guides after a Kansas man drowned when a guide boat capsized.
Oklahoma has since passed legislation to license all fishing guides in the state, requiring CPR, first aid, boat safety training and a minimum $500,000 liability insurance policy.
But even though there is now state regulation, the U.S. Coast Guard plans to “maintain business as usual and press forward until we pass our bill to exempt Texoma from Coast Guard licensing authority,” said John Collison, state director for Sen. Jim Inhofe.
The bill could pass out of a Commerce sub-committee that handles Coast Guard reauthorization by the end of the month, Collison said.
However, it likely will be long after the August recess before it gets floor time, he said.