Oklahomans continue to catch lake records across the state.
The latest in the Oklahoma City area is a 50-pound flathead caught Saturday on the north end of Canton Lake by Ethan Williams of Canton, who was noodling.
It will be a lake record pending certification by the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation.
The Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation has posted approximately 125 lake records since the program began in February of 2008.
Occasionally, I get questions about fish listed in the newspaper as lake records. Just yesterday, a relative of mine was wondering how a recently caught 15-pound channel cat at Lake Murray could possibly be the lake record.
I explained the lake records program started from scratch.
I’m sure there have been bigger channel cats caught at Lake Murray in the past, but when the state Wildlife Department started the lake records program, the decision was made not to certify any past catches unless they were state records.
On state records, state wildlife officials have some assurances the big fish story is true. State record fish must be weighed on certified scales and witnessed by a state wildlife official.
So all of the state record fish also became official lake records on those particular lakes. But other big fish stories, such as photos of past catches on bait shop walls around the state, do not count.
Greg Summers of the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation said the agency has been asked to certify past catches based on such photos.
But there is no way to know if the weight listed on the photos are accurate, he said.
“Who knows where the weight came from?,” he said. “A lot of those places (bait shops) don’t even have scales.”
The lake records program started on just 12 pilot lakes last year. Then Allen Gifford of Davis caught a near state record largemouth bass from Arbuckle Lake and the pilot project became 13 lakes.
The lake records program has proven to be so popular that it was expanded to almost every big lake in the state this year.
“I think we’ve got just about every major lake over 10,000 acres in the program now,” Summers said. “We are signing up new record keepers all the time.”
Bait shops, marinas, grocery stores and other businesses around state lakes have volunteered to administer the lake record program. Summers said the state Wildlife Department can use any business willing to be an official lake record keeper.
“It’s kind of like a deer check station, if you want to do it, we will let you do it,” Summers said.
A list of places where anglers can take a fish to have certified as a possible lake record is on the lake records page of www.wildlifedepartment.com.
All of the lake records are kept electronically on the agency’s Web site.
The state Wildlife Department started the lake records program for one main reason: to promote fishing.
It seems to have accomplished that goal.