Blue River trout start getting a little larger beginning Thursday as state wildlife officials begin stocking the river with Missouri-raised rainbows.
Up until now, the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation had been putting fish in the river that the agency receives from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Those fish come from an Arkansas hatchery and are free to the state.
Beginning Thursday, the state will begin stocking the rainbows that it buys from Missouri and those fish are a little bigger than their Arkansas counterparts.
The Wildlife Department’s contract with the Missouri hatchery calls for 12 to 14-inch trout with 10 percent more than 14 inches long, so there should be some 2- and 3-pounders calling the Blue Rive home on Thursday.
Blue River is one of my favorite fishing holes in the state.
As I have written before, if you were to put on a blindfold and get dropped at the Blue River, you likely wouldn’t believe you were in south-central Oklahoma when the blindfold was removed.
The Blue River looks like a trout stream you would find in Colorado, New Mexico or Arkansas.
The Blue is a swift, clear, braided stream that arises in Johnston County from the Arbuckle-Simpson aquifer, a giant underground water source.
The headwaters of the spring-fed Blue are southwest of Ada. The stream continues until it flows in the Red River in southeast Bryan County.
However, the river is most scenic along the 6 ¼- mile stretch through the Blue River Public Hunting and Fishing Area near Tishomingo.
Here, the granite rocks of the Arbuckle outcrop come to the surface and the river is energized.
Along these six miles, the river transforms from a sluggish, meandering stream to cascading water that forks through granite and limestone formations.
Matt Gamble is the state’s fishing biologist for the Blue River and gets to live there. With the weather being warmer than usual for January, it’s been a busy trout season on the Blue River.
In fact, the week between Christmas and New Year’s was as busy as Gamble can remember.
“On New Year’s, you almost couldn’t find a spot to fish,” he said. “People have really been getting out and taking advantage of the good weather.”
Gamble reports the trout fishing has been good lately with fly fishermen catching rainbows on brown woolly buggers, egg patterns, elk hair caddis fly pattern and some midge activity late in the evening.
For the non-fly anglers, small spoons and spinners have been successful but most fishermen are catching their trout on garlic-scented Powerbaits, he said.
The Blue River is normally busy with visitors on weekends but anglers still should be able to find some water to themselves, Gamble said. You certainly will not be fighting a crowd on a weekday fishing trip, he said.
Last week, state wildlife officials also stocked the river’s only catch and release for the final time. The catch and release only area of the river is on the far north portion of the stream.
“It’s been fishing well,” Gamble said of the catch and release area. ”Guys have been having good success up there.”
The trout season on the Blue River continues through the end of March. On Feb. 18-19, the weekend of President’s Day, there will be a trout derby on the river.