Don’t forget about the free fishing clinics that continue to be offered this summer in the Oklahoma City area.
For those who want to learn how to fish, the clinics are a great way to get your feet wet (pun intended).
Every Thursday night through Aug. 4, the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation is holding a family fishing clinic at Arcadia Lake near Edmond.
Participants are taught all the basics of fishing and even get some experience while fishing at a stocked pond during the two-hour classes. The clinics are for beginners, both adults and kids.
Damon Springer, coordinator of the fishing clinics for the Wildlife Department, said the clinics have been drawing 20 to 40 people each Thursday.
To register for one of the fishing clinics at Arcadia Lake, call 521-3855.
Oklahoma City also has several more of its “Hooked on Fishing” kids’ clinics scheduled on Saturday mornings this summer.
Those two-hour clinics are for ages 5 to 15. The next one is scheduled July 9 at Edwards Park Lake, 1515 N. Bryant, beginning at 8 a.m. Another clinic will be held at Edwards Park on Aug. 6.
On July 16 and Aug. 13, there will be fishing clinics at Metro Tech Springlake, NE 36 and Springlake Drive. On July 23, the fishing clinic will be at Crystal Lake, 6625 SE 15th Street.
The final “Hooked on Fishing” clinic will be Aug. 20 at the Dolese Park Youth Pond, NW 50 and Meridian.
Registration is required for the Oklahoma City clinics. Call 316-3474 to register.
Last year, 15 people drowned in lakes managed by the Tulsa District U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
That includes lakes in Oklahoma, southern Kansas, and northern Texas.
“This year we’ve already exceeded that number and we’re not half way through the recreation season yet,” said Nate Herring of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Tulsa District. “None of the victims were wearing a life jacket. All but one of these could have been prevented with the use of a life jacket.”
At the current pace, the number of deaths due to drowning would be the highest total in the last 10 years for the Tulsa District.
“This is record we do not want to see broken,” Herring said.
With the Independence Day weekend approaching, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers wants to remind people going to the lake of the following safety measures:
Wear a life jacket. State law requires that a life jacket is available to every person on board a boat and children ages 12 and younger must have it on while underway. Loaner jackets are available at most Corps lakes.
Make sure the life jacket is right for your activity. The National Safe Boating Council recommends that it should be a personal flotation device suited for your size and weight, is properly zipped and buckled and fits snugly. There are even personal flotation devices for pets.
Make sure there is a personal flotation device on board for each person within reach. State law requires that the personal flotation devices are out an accessible on a boat and not stored out of reach.
Make sure the life jacket fits children. Use the weight of the child to find the proper fitting personal flotation device. If the jacket is tood big a child can slip out of it when they jump in the water. If it is too small it may not have enough buoyancy to float them.
Do not drink alcohol on the water. More than half of all drowning deaths are related to alcohol consumption.
Watch the kids. It only takes a child an average of 20 seconds to drown. Designate someone to watch the kids and persons with special needs while on or around the water.
Know your limitations. Don’t give into peer pressure about jumping off a bluff or swimming farther than you should. Recognize your limitations and stay within them.
Take a boating safety course. Know the law and the rules on the water before you drive. The U.S. Coast Guard reports that the majority of boating related fatalities involve operators who did not receive any boating safety instruction.
Now is the time to go catfishing on the Great Salt Plains Lake in northwest Oklahoma before the fish are gone.
The catfish have really been biting of late and state wildlife officials, worried about a possible fish kill in the near future because of the extreme heat, are encouraging anglers to go catch ‘em now.
The Great Salt Plains Lake has suffered fish kills before. State wildlife officials would rather see catfish in people’s freezers than bloated, dead fish on the shore.
“The lake is real low,” said John Stahl of the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation. “We haven’t had a drop of water. We are real scared of a fish kill at any time.”
Stahl caught 168 pounds of catfish during the past week on a trot line. Other catfish anglers also have been doing well on trot lines, he said. Grasshoppers have been a popular bait.
The Great Salt Plains Lake is located in the Salt Plains National Wildlife Refuge in Alfalfa County. It is named for the salt flats in the area and is located on the Salt Fork of the Arkansas River, which is near the communities of Jet and Cherokee.
A friend of mine over at the Wildlife Department told me today that he read my column in the newspaper Sunday on the deep sea fishing in the Gulf of Mexico to Orange Beach, Ala., and kept expecting to read about my fishing trip.
“Surely, you didn’t go all that way and not go fishing?” he asked.
I guess he expected a tale from the Old Man and the Sea. My story is not Hemingwayesque but, yes, I did go fishing.
I took a deep sea fishing trip for red snapper with Capt. Eddie Hall on the Shady Lady and did some fishing at Orange Beach at night for speckled trout under the light off the docks.
I have fished for the specks before, but it was my first time to go after for red snapper, which everyone is catching now. I heard some call them the salt water piranha while I was there. They eat anything and everything and are taking over the Gulf waters.
My fishing trip was a 90 minute boat ride into the ocean where we anchored over an artificial reef and dropped our bait of cut mackerel into 100 feet of water.
In a way, fishing for red snapper reminded me of fishing for schools of sand bass or stripers, even though it was bottom fishing. For the most part, either everyone was catching fish or no one was.
If the red snapper were on the reef, they were biting immediately. If not, the captain didn’t waste any time to pull anchor and head for another reef where we would do it again.
When the fishing charter is only for six hours and half of it is coming and going, you move quickly to get as much fishing in as possible.
When the snapper were biting, is was quite a show on the boat with a half-dozen anglers reeling in red snapper or triggerfish all at once and getting lines crossed on occasion. The deck hands were working furiously to make sure everyone landed their fish.
It’s red snapper season now off the Alabama coast. Each angler can keep two per day. I took part of my fillets to the Wolf Bay Lodge at Zeke’s Landing Marina, www.zekeslandingmarina.com, that night where they were fried, grilled and blackened for my supper.
I like them all, but I my favorite was fried. (What else would anyone expect from a boy from Oklahoma).
The next night, I grilled snapper on my own, using a recipe that a gentleman in the store recommended to my wife. It called for marinating in butter, Worcestershire sauce and Dijon mustard then adding Tony Chachere’s creole seasoning.
We spread it on thick, wrapped the fish in non-stick foil then grilled it for 15 to 20 minutes. It was outstanding. It was a little spicy for my daughters but that’s the way I like it.
The deck hand also gave me a similar recipe except his called for just mayo and butter. “Put gobs of mayonnaise on it. Make it look disgusting,” he said.
He recommended using Cajun or Greek seasoning or both. I plan to try that recipe soon, but after two weeks of eating seafood, I am ready for a chicken fried steak.
I didn’t see one of those on any menu on the Florida or Alabama coast.
The Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation recently had a news release about an unusual duck sighting in southeastern Oklahoma.
A pair of the most “un-duck-like” ducks were spotted in McAlester. Residents have spotted and photographed two black-bellied whistling ducks perched on what was left of an ice storm-damaged maple tree in their urban backyard.
“I like all critters, I’m a wildlife guy that has been duck hunting all my life, but I’ve never seen something like this,” said Danny Giacomo, McAlester resident whose yard the ducks have been visiting. “I look forward to seeing them every evening about 8 o’clock with the sun highlighting their beautiful colors.”
According to state wildlife officials, black-bellied whistling ducks are widespread in the tropics of central to south-central South America and in Texas, Arizona and coastal Louisiana.
They make a whistling sound instead of the normal “quacking” sound of duck.
According to Mark Howery, Wildlife Diversity biologist for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation, sightings have increased in Oklahoma over the last decade. Within the past 10-12 years, the black-bellied whistling duck has become a regular breeding species in McCurtain County with nests documented so far this year in Broken Bow and at Red Slough WMA.
Over the past decade, they have been recorded in at least seven counties including Tulsa, Kingfisher, and Osage.
“It is difficult to pinpoint the origin of these ducks, because they are part of the exotic waterfowl trade,” Howery said. “These ducks are primarily a combination of wild-born ducks moving up from Texas, or escaped captive birds.”
Howery thinks their northern movements are due to their adaptation to human environments.
“These are wetland birds, and like many wetland birds, they are mobile and can move around from season to season following rainfall patterns as wetlands dry up in some areas and fill up in others,” he said. “Outside nesting season, they will wander for feeding areas.”
This duck species has some goose-like behaviors, but a diet and bill shape that is more like that of a dabbling duck.
“Black-bellied whistling ducks are their own tribe of ducks,” Howery said.
Black-bellied whistling ducks eat a variety of insects and seeds. They can be spotted perching on trees or nesting in tree cavities.
The sighting of these unique ducks portrays Oklahoma’s ecologic diversity, state wildlife officials say. Oklahoma ranks as one of the top ecologically diverse states in the nation, home to everything from antelope to alligators.
And black-bellied whistling ducks.
The 14th annual Camp Cavett Kids’ Fishing Derby will be July 16th out of Catfish Bay on Lake Texoma.
Organizers need 75 volunteers to bring boats to take 150 kids from Oklahoma Children’s Hospital on a half-day fishing trip.
It’s a fish for anything derby with prizes for the kids for the largest black bass, panfish, catfish, striper or rough fish.
A free cookout will follow. Boaters must arrive by 6 a.m. to register with camp staff. Each boater will be assigned campers and a camp counselor.
Tackle, bait and life jackets are provided for the kids. To volunteer, register at www.cavettkidsfoundation.org/node/52.
Jena Stewart, a former University of Oklahoma cheerleader who graduated in December, finished third in the recent Red Snapper World Championship held in Orange Beach, Ala.
The red snapper season opened June 1 on the Gulf Coast and the conclusion of the five day championship tournament was Sunday.
Stewart of Edmond caught a 23.8 pound red snapper on the opening day while fishing with the charter boat Shady Lady, captained by Eddie Hall.
Stewart’s father, David, also lives in Edmond and owns Zeke’s Landing Marina in Orange Beach, home to the largest charter fishing fleet on the Gulf Coast.
“These same charter boats all worked in the cleanup,” said David Stewart, who also owns a small oil and gas company in Oklahoma City. “Red snapper season opened with a bang in the same waters that were covered with oil from the BP oil spill at this same time last year.”
The red snapper season ends July 15. In addition to red snapper, the fishing charters at Orange Beach also provide overnight bill fishing for marlin, sailfish, yellow fin tuna, wahoo, dorado and other salt water species.
Anglers also could opt for in-shore fishing trips for speckled trout, redfish and sheepshead.
For more information, visit www.zekeslanding.com
Karl White of Luther is still looking for a home for his multi-million dollar antique lure collection.
White, who removed the collection from the Oklahoma Aquarium in Jenks last year, wants someone to build a museum for it. He believes it’s deserving of such.
““It’s the best collection in the world and the only collection that depicts the history of fishing,” White said Monday.
The problem is money. No one has been able to obtain the financial sponsorships necessary to make White’s dream of a fishing museum a reality, he said.
However, White said he is currently negotiating with officials from Branson, Mo., about moving his collection to the entertainment capital of Mid-America.
“I hate to leave (Oklahoma),” he said.
White’s collection not only includes antique fishing lures, but boats, motors, rods and reels.
“I’ve got the first of everything,” he said.
White said he would consider donating the vast collection (the Oklahoma Aquarium could only house half of it) as a gift if he was assured it would be cared for and depicted in the proper way.
He wants any museum that houses the collection to organize it in a way that visitors will learn about the history of fishing and its evolution.
“I want the fathers and grandfathers to go in there and say, ‘This is what I used. This is the best lure I ever saw.’ That’s what I want. Not just a mass of stuff to be looked at.”
The Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation will pay more to lease the Honobia Creek Wildlife Management Area in southeastern Oklahoma, but the boundaries for the popular hunting grounds will remain the same.
The Oklahoma Wildlife Conservation Commission on Monday voted to enter into a new three-year agreement with the owners of the Honobia Creek land – Hancock Forest Management, Rayonier Forest Resources and Molpus Timberlands Management. The previous three-year contract with the timber groups expired May 31.
Under the new agreement, the timber groups will continue to allow sportsmen public access to the 80,344 acres of the Honobia Creek Wildlife Management Area in Pushmataha and Le Flore counties.
For use of the land, the Wildlife Department will pay $1 an acre the first year, $1.50 per acre the second year and $2 per acre the third year.
It is the same lease price the Wildlife Department agreed to pay the Weyerhauser Corporation earlier this year for a new three-year deal for use of the adjoining Three Rivers Wildlife Management Area.
The Wildlife Department had been paying 50 cents an acre each of the last three years to lease the lands of Honobia Creek.
Even though the new price is higher, it is still cheaper than what the average price is being paid for private hunting leases in southeastern Oklahoma, said Alan Peoples, chief of the wildlife division for the Wildlife Department.
The Wildlife Department did not lose any land in Honobia Creek in the new deal as it did with the adjoining Three Rivers Wildlife Management Area.
The Wildlife Department only was able to lease 200,000 acres of land in its new three-year contract with Weyerhauser for public access to Three Rivers in McCurtain County.
The Wildlife Department was not able to renew its lease for 50,000 acres on the south end of Three Rivers as Weyerhauser opted to lease the hunting rights for that portion of it to private individuals or groups.
Sportsmen once had access to 250,000 acres in Honobia Creek but it has been reduced to 80,344 acres over the years as timber groups have sold land.
It is getting more difficult for the ordinary Joe to find a place to hunt. But even though public hunting lands in southeastern Oklahoma are shrinking, Oklahoma residents still can pay just $40 for a user permit and have access to more than 280,000 acres of timber country in Pushmatha, Le Flore and McCurtain counties.
“There are many other states that don’t have the opportunity that we provide,” Wildlife Commissioner Bruce Mabrey said Monday.
Honobia Creek shares 16 miles of its border with Three Rivers in McCurtain County. Honobia Creek also provides users access to 21 miles of Little River.
Here is a video provided by Mike Thorne of Oklahoma City of his son catching his first fish. It has been popular viewing on YouTube.