Arbuckle Lake continues its impressive run of producing big bass this spring.
On Saturday, J.D. Kent of Durant landed a 13.86 pound largemouth bass that is the 15th largest ever caught in Oklahoma, according to the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation’s top 20 largemouth bass list.
The fish was caught using a Jewel Bait HC finesse football jig and a Yum Craw Papi as a trailer on a hump with a deep creek channel swing nearby.
The fish allowed Kent and his son, K.D., to win the Red River Bass Club tournament with a total bag of 22.4 pounds.
“It was a thrill of a lifetime to catch a fish like that and to share the moment with my son was really special,” Kent said.
Kent’s lunker obviously was the big bass of the tournament, but another team fishing in the tournament also caught a largemouth bass weighing more than 11 pounds on Saturday, said Fran McWilliams, president of the club.
The Red River Bass Club has about 50 members and was formed in 1974.
“It’s a group of guys who love fishing and the outdoors and want to learn from each other,” said McWilliams of Kingston. “That fish J.D. caught was the biggest I’ve seen in a long time.”
The club holds tournaments once a month. For more information on the club, visit www.redriverbassclub.com.
The state Senate on Monday voted 37-9 in favor of HB 1464 which creates a black bear hunting license.
All that remains now is for Gov. Brad Henry to sign the bill and Oklahoma will have its first regulated black bear hunting season.
The Oklahoma Wildlife Conservation Commission voted last week to set the hunting season beginning Oct. 1 for archery in Pushmataha, Le Flore, McCurtain and Latimer counties.
Two wildlife commissioners voted against it. One of them, Mac Maguire of Oklahoma City, is a huge Cubs fan, so perhaps he just can’t stand to see a bear killed. A Cubs fan should be used to such suffering though.
Seriously, Maguire and fellow Commissioner David Riggs don’t like the notion that bears would be primarily hunted as trophies and not as a food source . Well, there are hunters who go after deer mainly for their horns, but that doesn’t mean the meat is not used by somebody.
It’s given away to family or friends or donated to charity. Hopefully, the same thing will happen with bear hunting.
The commissioners also are worried that Oklahoma doesn’t have a sufficient population yet to support bear hunting.
Maguire said Arkansas had 4,000 bears before they opened a hunting season. Alan Peoples, director of the wildlife division for the state Wildlife Department, counters that Arkansas also kills 600 bears per year.
The Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation only is going to allow 20 bears to be killed this fall. Once 20 have been killed, the season will be closed.
It will be the hunters’ responsibility to call each day to see if the season remains open.
No one really knows how many bears are in Oklahoma, but state wildlife officials say they know there are at least 500 in Le Flore County alone. How do they know this?
Oklahoma State University contracted with the state Wildlife Department to do a five-year study on black bears in southeastern Oklahoma.
As part of their research, “hair catching traps” were set up in Le Flore County. Bait was put out to lure the bears through to certain area. To get to the baits, the bears had to squeeze through a small space where they had to rub against these traps that would snatch some hairs.
Through DNA analysis of those hairs, OSU researchers determined they had hair from 500 different bears, Peoples said.
If there are 500 bears in one county alone, only allowing 20 to be taken by hunters each year is a very conservative approach.
Man, has there ever been a better pro bass angler from Oklahoma than Wagoner’s Tommy Biffle?
Let’s check his resume. Biffle has earned more than $2 million in bass fishing in his career that spans 24 years. He has finished second in the Bassmaster Classic twice and runner-up in the FLW championship three times.
He has qualified for the Bassmaster Classic 15 times. He has finished in the top 10 in BASS tourneys 43 times.
He now has won four BASS pro tournaments as a result of his victory over the weekend in the Elite Series event on Wheeler Lake, Ala.
Biffle won $100,000 – his first victory on the BASS Tour since 2006.
The 51-year-old angler found a secluded cove and caught more than 50 pounds of fish with his trademark flipping and pitching casts.
When the fish are shallow, never bet against Biffle.
Biffle found a secluded spot on Wheeler Lake without any other boat traffic and remained committed to it through the weather-shortened event.
Friday’s round was canceled due to unsafe river conditions and the river levels increased nearly 2 feet since the first competition day on Thursday.
Biffle, who bagged 14-13 on Sunday’s final day, said he was fishing in about 6 inches of water on the first day and the water was stained for the remainder of the event.
“I was more concerned that the river bottom was going to drop and my area would be dry and that was my biggest fear,” he said. “With the quality of the maps and GPS detail now you can find places that you could never find before. You know this is right up my alley as I don’t like to have others near. I was fortunate no one came in there.”
Oklahoma fishing fans can watch highlights of the tournament Saturday y at 8 a.m. on The Bassmasters, which airs on ESPN2.
Edwin Evers of Talala is Oklahoma’s hottest young bass pro. Ken Cook of Meers won the 1991 Bassmaster Classic, won six BASS events, qualified for the Bassmaster Classic 14 times and finished in the top 10 in BASS tournaments 34 times.
Biffle has never won a Bassmaster Classic, but he’s been the most successful Oklahoma angler ever in professional bass fishing. If he does ever win a Classic, there can be no question he is the best ever.
Who would have thought that limiting the number of big catfish that can be kept by anglers would be more controversial than opening a bear hunting season?
State fishery officials got grilled by lawmakers Tuesday (pardon the pun) on the state Willdife Department’s new regulation which limits catfish anglers to keeping one blue catfish 30 inches or longer per day.
Anglers can still keep 15 per day total, but only one can be 30 inches or longer. What’s wrong with that?
How many big cats does one guy need per day? Keep raping the resource and you won’t have any big fish someday.
Rep. Ben Sherrer, D-Pryor Creek, wants to repeal the rule, which would go into effect Jan. 1. Apparently, there is an influential catfisherman in his district.
More than 800 anglers in eastern Oklahoma signed a petition against the new rule, but state wildlife officials believe the petition misled some people into believing the new regulation meant they could keep only one catfish per day period.
Barry Bolton, fisheries chief for the state Wildlife Department, said big blue cats are currently being taken at a rate 16 times higher than their numbers in the lakes.
Sherrer’s resolution to repeal the new catfish regulation goes to the full house after winning passage Tuesday by the House Administrative Rules and Agency Oversight Committee.
Meanwhile, the bear hunting bills have sailed through the House and Senate. Stay tuned.
William Powell’s mother thinks the Oklahoma State University senior spends too much time fishing and not enough time studying.
“She keeps saying it’s going to be a problem, but I don’t see a problem,” said Powell, a 2005 graduate of Bishop McGuiness High School in Oklahoma City.
It worked out well last weekend. Powell and fellow OSU Bass Club member Jeremy Bersche of Skiatook won the FLW College Bass Fishing tournament at Lake Sam Rayburn.
Some snicker at the idea of college bass fishing, but it’s gaining momentum. FLW Outdoors created a college fishing trail this year.
There are four tournaments in each of five divisions, culminating with a regional championship then a national championship.
The college tournaments are held simultaneously with FLW pro events. The pro anglers who don’t make the cut for the final day of fishing provide boats and take out the college kids for a one-day showdown.
The pros can’t help the college anglers, except to provide equipment and take them to where they want to go on the lake.
In winning the tournament, Powell and Bersche won $10,000 which will be split evenly between the school and the OSU Bass Club.
Powell and his partner didn’t fare well in FLW’s first college tournament of the year. Powell said they didn’t stick to their game plan going in.
“This time around, we had been looking at maps (of Sam Rayburn) for a month. We decided we were going to fish this one area and decided to stick to that area no matter what, he said.”
They sight fished the same 75-yard stretch of water all day where fish were guarding spawning beds and came away with six fish for a winning stringer of 18 pounds, 6 ounces.
LSU-Shreveport was second with 17 pounds, 15 ounces. Lamar, Texas-A&M, and Angelo State rounded out the top five.
The University of Central Oklahoma – anglers Dustin Edwards and David Stine - finished 12th.
Powell is pursuing a business degree at OSU which he hopes will come in handy as a pro bass fisherman.
He wants to make a living on the water and not behind a desk.
“Tournament fishing is something I always wanted to do,” he said. “It’s just one of those things I really can’t get enough of.”
OSU, the University of Oklahoma and UCO have bass fishing clubs.
Red River striper guide Norman O’Neal, who runs up and down the river bordering Texas and Oklahoma in his air boat, keeps finding some trophy stripers for customers.
The fishing is hit or miss on the Red River, but O’Neal had a couple of really good days this week.
On Sunday, Scooter Proctor, son of former University of Oklahoma defensive secondary coach Bobby Proctor, landed a 24-pound striper while fishing with O’Neal. The Red River coughed up seven fish that day weighing between 17 and 24 pounds for Scooter and his son, Bo.
Then on Wednesday, Bo Herrera of New Mexico was fishing with O’Neal when he landed a beautiful 30 pound, 3-ounce striper.
“The fishing started out slow Wednesday morning with big fish blowing my chum out of the water everywhere, but refusing to touch the ones with jewelry (hooks) in their nose,” O’Neal said.
“We landed a few smaller fish, with the biggest about 8-pounds in the morning. We also broke off a bigger fish this morning not knowing his actual size.
“After a few hours, I headed down river about 15 miles and started working the shallows with my 10-foot cast net acquiring some 8 to 12 inch trophy shad.
“After a long ride back to the top and two anchor settings we were on the good fish. We had around eight fish from 16 to 30-pounds in about 30 minutes. The fishing has been really good when I can find the bigger baits.”
O’Neal said all of the big fish caught by Proctor and Herrera were released so they might be caught again someday by a lucky angler.
To reach O’Neal, who operates out of Denison, Texas, about striper fishing on the Red River, call him at (903) 624-4900.
Some day, I hope to catch a rainbow like the one Glen Byrd of Norman did last month on the Lower Mountain Fork River in southeastern Oklahoma.
Bob Williams of the Prairie Fly Fishers in Oklahoma City took the photo and was kind enough to share it with me, immediately creating the urge to jump in my SUV (if it wasn’t still in the body shop thanks to last month’s baseball-size hail storm in Yukon) and take the four-hour trip to the state’s best fly fishing waters.
I am not a fly fisherman, yet. I’ve been fly fishing four or five times and lost a big Rio Grande brown one summer on a family vacation in Creede, Colo., because I didn’t know what I was doing. I tried to horse him too much. Even my guide was depressed because he knew it was a big fish.
However, my wife, knowing of my desire to become proficient with a fly rod before I die, cashed in bunch of her Cabela’s points and bought me a new fly rod and waders that are still in the box.
(I can no longer criticize her use of a credit card).
Why I want to be a fly fisherman so bad, I’m not sure. I’m certainly more comfortable with a spinning rod.
It’s probably because like Brian Ellis of the 89er Chapter of Trout Unlimited told me, “trout don’t live in ugly places.”
I suspect that line didn’t originate with Brian, but it was the first time I had heard it, so I give him the credit for such wisdom.
That’s certainly true on the Lower Mountain Fork River in McCurtain County, especially in the spring.
It’s a great place to visit whether the fish are biting or not. Plan a trip next month and work in both a turkey hunt and trout fishing.
As far as the fishing goes, it’s been great recently, as you might expect. Sean Baker of the Three Rivers Fly Shop provides this fishing report for the fly anglers.
“All colors of egg patterns (especailly chartreuse and dark red), san juan worms and March brown emerger pattern has been working really well at the top of Evening Hole.
“Small (size 20 and higher) Light Cahill have been working at Stump Hole for dries and Olive BH Scud patterns (size 16) for nymphs.
Finally the Miracle Nymph both sizes have been working great as have the various colors of Zebra Midges. Golden Stone Fly nymphs have been found in Spillway and by the Powerhouse, so make sure you have one or two of those with you.
“In Zone 2, be ready with the March Brown Dun & Emerger patterns. For you die hards, note that the CADDIS ARE HATCHING in Zone 2. If you’ve been holding off, now is the time to experience some fantastic dry fly fishing on the Lower Mountain Fork.
“On the Upper Mountain Fork, walleye, sand bass and smallmouth bass are moving upstream right now. The Narrows has been fishing really well. Take a chartreuse and a white Clouser for sure.”
I hope those waders of mine fit.
The paddlefishing in northeastern Oklahoma has been steady but unspectacular thus far. However, that could soon change.
Some paddlefish, or spoonbills, already have started moving up the river systems around Grand and Fort Gibson lakes. Anglers are catching some fish but most spoonbills are still staging at the upper end of the lakes or in the deeper holes of the rivers.
Nolen Cleaves of Edmond said that was the situation last weekend at Chouteau Bend on Fort Gibson Lake. His group caught three males that weighed 20, 24 and 25 pounds.
At the state Wildlife Department’s spoonbill cleaning station at Twin Bridges State Park on Grand Lake, around 400 paddlefish were processed last weekend.
Since it was spring break, there were a lot of paddlefishing addicts on the water, many of them fishermen from out-of-state who make an annual trek to Grand Lake for the spoonbill runs.
Oklahoma has one of the largest populations in the country of paddlefish, a pre-historic looking critter that doesn’t eat bait and must be snagged.
Spoonbills, nicknamed The Oklahoma Marlin, for its size and the way it jumps in the water, can reach 100 pounds or more in size. The state record is 121 pounds. An average size at Grand Lake is 45 pounds.
The state Wildlife Department will clean the one paddlefish you are allowed to keep per day for free in exchange for the eggs from females. Paddlefish eggs are a tasty substitute for beluga caviar, and the state Wildlife Department made $1.5 million last year in its first attempt at selling Oklahoma-made caviar.
One female spoonbill can produce 5 to 7 pounds of caviar.
As the water temperature increases, spoonbills start moving up the rivers to spawn. However, big runs are triggered by water flow from heavy rains. When that happens, the fishing can be phenomenal.
Grand Lake has several paddlefishing guides and the when the fishing is hot, anglers will line up elbow to elbow at Miami’s Riverview Park on the banks of the Neosho River.
The state Wildlife Department has posted popular paddlefishing locations on its Web site at www.wildlifedepartment.com
Anglers across Oklahoma continue to catch some big bass during the the pre-spawn.
Roger Hughes of Bartlesville caught this 10.6-pound largemouth on March 13 at Sardis Lake near McAlester.
He landed the lunker on a Terminator Spinnerbait and it is being certified by state wildlife officials as a lake record.
The Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation started keeping records on 13 state lakes a year ago.