Altus-Lugert Lake is the latest body of water in southwest Oklahoma where fish are dying as a result of golden alga blooms.
The fish kill started the week before Christmas and became worse last week with several thousand fish dying in the lake, said Larry Cofer, southwest fisheries chief of the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation.
Most of the dead fish are shad but there also have been some sport fish that have been killed.
Golden alga is an aquatic plant whose blooms produce a toxin that is deadly to fish. It typically blooms in the winter when other aquatic plants are suppressed by the cold weather.
“We think that is what gives golden alga a competitive advantage in the winter,” Cofer said.
Altus City Lake had a golden alga outbreak in 2004. Last winter, trout stocked in the stream below Altus-Lugert Lake died because of the toxin and state wildlife officials confirmed the presence of golden alga in the lake.
“We have been expecting this,” Cofer said of the fish kill on Altus-Lugert.
The trout kill caused state wildlife officials to move the winter trout fishery in southwest Oklahoma from Quartz Mountain to Medicine Park this year.
There is no treatment in the winter for the golden alga blooms, Cofer said. It’s unknown how long the fish kill will last on Altus-Lugert, he said.
“It may be over or it may get really bad,” Cofer said. “There is no way to predict it.”
Golden alga has been slowly moving northwest from Texas lakes in recent years.
State wildlife officials are asking boaters and anglers on Altus-Lugert to help reduce the chance of golden alga spreading to other lakes by making sure to thoroughly clean their boats, live wells and fishing gear.
The toxin from golden alga blooms is not a health risk to humans, wildlife or pets. Anglers may still fish at Altus-Lugert and eat fish caught from the lake, Cofer said.
Ft. Gibson: December 31. Elevation 1 ft. below normal, water clear. Catfish fair on cut bait and shad in main channel while drifting. Crappie good on minnows and jigs at 10-20 ft. around docks. Largemouth bass good on small crankbaits at 3-15 ft. Report submitted by Rick Stafford of Wagoner.
Greenleaf: January 1. Bass good on square bill crankbaits and jigs. Crappie good on hand tied hair jigs, Bobby Garland Hudson: December 31. Elevation normal. Largemouth bass fair to good on plastic baits. Crappie fair to good on minnows and jigs. Report submitted by Steve Loveland, game warden stationed in Rogers and Mayes counties.
Keystone: December 31. Elevation 4 ft. below normal, water 42. Catfish good on cut bait. Report submitted by Karlin Bailey, game warden stationed in Creek County.
Lower Illinois: December 31. Elevation normal, water 45 and clear. Largemouth bass slow on stick baits at 2-3 ft. in coves and around bridges. White bass slow on jigs and spinnerbaits at 1-3 ft. at the mouth of the river. Striped bass slow on shad at 1-3 ft. at the mouth of the river. Channel catfish good on cut bait all along the river. Crappie slow on jigs at 1-3 ft. Trout excellent fly fishing the surface, on rooster tails at 1-2 ft. and on Power Bait on bottom from the dam to Gore Landing. Report submitted by D. Tracy, Town of Gore.
Oologah: December 31. Elevation 4 ft. below normal, water mid-40s and clear. Crappie fair at 10-15 ft. around brush piles. Blue catfish fair on shad and worms at 10-15 ft. on flats. Report submitted by Brek Henry, game warden stationed in Rogers County.
Tenkiller: December 31. Elevation 9 1/2 ft. below normal, water 53-55 and clear. Crappie fair on tube jigs and minnows at 15-25 ft. around docks. Sunfish fair on worm-tipped jigs at 10-15 ft. around docks. Report by Monte Brooks, Cookson.
Webbers Falls: January 1. Bass good on spinnerbaits, shad, square bill crankbaits and chatter baits up creeks. Striped bass hybrids good on shad colored or shad imitation baits. Report submitted by Mike’s Outdoors.
Canton: December 31. Elevation 9 ft. below normal, water clear. Channel catfish good on cut bait and stinkbait near big bend and spillway. Report submitted by Mark Walker, game warden stationed Blaine County.
Ft. Supply: December 31. Elevation 3-4 ft. below normal. Crappie fair jigging at the intake. Report submitted by Mark Reichenberger, game warden stationed in Woodward County.
Watonga: December 28. Stocked 710 lbs. of trout. Report submitted by Jody Laubhan, Byron State Fish Hatchery/Northwest Region.
Arbuckle: December 29. Elevation 5 1/4 ft. below normal, water 48 and clear. Algae bloom noticeable on calm days. Crappie fair on chartreuse or white jigs at 25+ ft., crappie slow around docks. White bass good on CC spoons in mid lake drop offs & channel bends at 22-45 ft. Bass fair to good using crankbaits, jerk baits, drop shot rigs, and Alabama rigs. Report submitted by Jack Melton.
Blue River: December 31. Elevation normal, water 40. Trout good on orange Power Bait, inline spinnerbaits and glitter dough baits around structure and moving water. Fly fishing good on mayfly nymphs, soft hackles and egg patterns in shallow runs. Channel catfish good on chicken liver and stinkbait around current in larger pools. Report submitted by Matt Gamble, biologist at the Blue River Public Fishing and Hunting Area.
Blue River: December 31. Approximately 2,405 rainbow trout were stocked on December 19. Approximately 3,090 rainbow trout were stocked on December 26. Report submitted by Matt Gamble, biologist at the Blue River Public Fishing and Hunting Area.
Broken Bow: December 30. Elevation below normal. Largemouth, smallmouth and spotted bass good on crankbaits and black #11 jig and pigs, in deeper water around points. Crappie fair on minnows and jigs around structure. Jug and trot lines baited with cut bait fair. Report submitted by Dru Polk, game warden stationed in McCurtain County.
Eufaula: December 16. Elevation 5 ft. below normal, water clear. Blue catfish fair on shad in the shallow flats. Crappie fair on minnows and jigs around boat docks with brush and along riprap areas. Report submitted by Ed Rodebush, game warden stationed in McIntosh County.
Konawa: December 30. Elevation 1 1/2 ft. below normal, water 42 and clear. Largemouth bass fair on crankbaits at 5-15 ft. in the discharge canal and around points. Report submitted by Daryl Howser, game warden stationed in Seminole County.
Lower Mountain Fork River: December 30. Try mayfly nymphs in sizes 16, 18 and 20. Size 20 soft hackles in yellow, olive and orange are working in all three zones as well as pink and yellow egg patterns. Report submitted by Jesse King, Three Rivers Fly Shop.
Lower Mountain Fork River: December 31. Stocked 1,577 lbs., approximately 2,030 rainbow trout. Report submitted by Don Groom, southeast region fisheries supervisor.
McGee Creek: December 30. Elevation 9 1/2 ft. below normal, water 52 and clear. Black bass fair on soft plastics and jig and pig combinations at 10-25 ft. Crappie fair on minnows over brush piles at 12-28 ft. in creek channels. Report submitted by Larry Luman, game warden stationed in Atoka County.
Pine Creek: December 30. All public boat ramps have been closed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. No fishing activity to report due to extremely low water levels. Report submitted by Mark Hannah, game warden stationed in McCurtain County.
Robber’s Cave State Park: December 31. Stocked 385 lbs. rainbow trout. Report submitted by Don Groom, southeast region fisheries supervisor.
Robert S. Kerr: January 1. Bass fair on crankbaits and stick baits off points, along creek channels and up river in coves. Spotted bass excellent up Canadian River; look for concentrations of gulls. Crappie fair around deeper submerged brush. White bass and striped bass fair on minnows and shad crankbaits up river in deeper holes and around rock ledges. Channel and blue catfish excellent on trotlines and juglines baited with cut bait at 12-20 ft. close to creek and river channels. Report submitted by Allen Couch, game warden stationed in Haskell County.
Texoma: December 30. Elevation 5 1/2 ft. below normal, water 52 and clear. Largemouth and smallmouth bass fair to good on crankbaits and plastic worms at 15-20 ft. around drop-offs and points. Striped and white bass fair to good on live bait, sassy shad and slabs at 10-30 ft. in river channels. Channel and blue catfish fair to good at 15-30 ft. from Johnston creek to Platter Flats on live bait and stinkbait. Crappie fair on minnows and jigs at 10-15 ft. around underwater brush. Sunfish fair on worms and small tube jigs at 5-10 ft. around the fishing docks. Report submitted by Danny Clubb, game warden stationed in Bryan County.
Wister: December 30. Elevation 1 1/2 ft. below normal, water murky. Largemouth bass fair on black/blue plastic worms and good on silver crankbaits. Crappie fair on white tail grubs at 15-20 ft. Catfish fair on jug lines and trotlines baited with cut bait and liver. Report submitted by Randy Fennell, game warden stationed in LeFlore County.
Foss: December 31. Elevation 11 3/4 ft. below normal with gates closed, water 50s and clear. Striped bass hybrids fair to good on live bait around the marina. Crappie fair on jigs. Report submitted by Eric Puyear, B & K Bait House.
Medicine Creek: January 2. Partially ice-covered but thawing. Stocked 380 lbs. of trout. Fishing fair on spinnerbaits and Power Bait. Report submitted by Larry Cofer, southwest region fisheries supervisor.
A great thing about Oklahoma is its diversity of wildlife from antelope in the Panhandle to black bears in southeastern Oklahoma.
You don’t hear a lot about mule deer in Oklahoma but they can be found in the Panhandle counties of Cimarron, Texas and Beaver and the northwestern counties of Harper, Ellis, Woods and Woodward. About 250 mule deer are harvested in Oklahoma each year.
Robert Newman of Edmond sent me a photo of his wife, Kelly, who took this 5×5 mule deer with a crossbow on New Year’s Day on their ranch at the base of the Black Mesa.
“This buck had remained nocturnal and was only seen on night time trail cameras even throughout the rut,” Robert stated in the e-mail. “We had a hunch the storm might force him to come to our food plots during shooting hours.”
Kelly’s New Year’s buck was taken at 7:55 a.m. with a pink Excalibur XBow. The buck had a green score of more than 170.
The Newmans’ ranch is the only private ownership on the mesa, he said.
“We have mule deer, whitetails, black bear and even a dozen or more bighorn sheep regularly on our property,” Robert said.
What were the top outdoor stories in Oklahoma in 2012? Here are my top 10.
1. The Bassmaster Classic announcement: The City of Tulsa and Grand Lake will be the site next month of the premier fishing event in the world. It will be an even bigger story in 2013 when it happens, but just the fact that Oklahoma landed it makes it the top story in 2012.
2. Bass records broken: Benny Williams Jr. of Poteau caught a 14-pound, 12-ounce largemouth bass from Cedar Lake, breaking a state record by one ounce that had stood since 1999. Eight days later, Ryan Wasser of Pocasset caught a new state record smallmouth bass at Lake Lawtonka that weighed 8 pounds, 7 ounces. It marked the first time in Oklahoma that both state record fish was caught in the same year.
3. The drought: The state’s record drought continues to plague Oklahoma fish and wildlife and is most evident in the decline of the quail population in western Oklahoma and the number of dry ponds and low lakes.
4. Plight of the prairie chickens: The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced that it is considering listing the prairie chicken as “threatened” which could hinder energy projects in northwestern Oklahoma. It’s a political hot potato.
5. Deer regulations: State wildlife officials proposed in 2012 that deer gun hunters be limited to just one buck for the deer and muzzleloader seasons combined. It’s created a tremendous debate in the deer hunting community where hunters are divided almost 50/50 on the issue, according to state wildlife officials.
6. Bears: Oklahoma’s black bear population continues to grow in eastern Oklahoma and black bear hunting was expanded this seasons. Oklahoma hunters killed a record 71 black bears this year and hunting might be expanded to more counties in the future.
7. Quail: The Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation and Oklahoma State University have joined researchers in Texas to try and determine what is happening to the bobwhite quail, where numbers have reached a record low.
8. Mountain lions: More Oklahomans are reporting seeing mountain lions on trail cameras and a cougar killed by a motorist near Minco last year was born in the Black Hills, according to a DNA analysis.
9: Hunter education goes online: The Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation began putting its hunter education course online in September and it’s been extremely popular. A record number of residents in Oklahoma – more than 18,000 – completed hunter education last year, mostly because of the convenience of the online course.
10. Asian carp: Hopefully, this won’t be higher in the rankings on the 2013 list of top stories, but state wildlife officials have determined there are Asian carp in portions of the Red River and its tributaries and in the Neosho River in northeast Oklahoma. State wildlife officials are trying to manage the invasive species by proposing a new fishing regulation for 2013 that would prevent anglers from transporting live bait from one lake or river to another in Oklahoma.