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.
Got this email from Philip Maguire about the story on big blue catfish in the state.
“I enjoyed your piece about the huge catfish. I am an avid fisherman and generally practice catch and release. It seems a terrible shame to allow these great fish to die. They certainly aren’t any good to eat. Couldn’t they be weighed, measured, photographed and put back in the water like we do with largemouth bass?”
Yes, they can. Big blues are not easily replaced. It takes a long time for catfish to reach 90 pounds. I know of at least two catfish guides who insist that their clients release big fish. Of course, their livelihood depends on it.
However, if anglers are legally entitled to a big fish, it’s difficult to criticize someone for keeping one. But here’s hoping more anglers will choose to practice catch and release.
State wildlife officials are taking another stab at legalizing a bear hunting season.
A proposal to allow a black bear season in Latimer, Le Flore, Pushmataha and McCurtain counties is included as part of the annual public hearings on hunting and fishing rule changes. The public hearings on those proposals are scheduled in towns around the state beginning Jan. 12.
The Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation once agains is proposing a restricted bear season where a total of only 20 black bears could be killed. Baiting and use of dogs would be forbidden.
State wildlife officials say the biological data supports a bear hunt, as the bear population is growing and nuisance complaints are increasing in those southeastern Oklahoma counties.
It is the same proposal that state wildlife officials made last year but could not get enough political support to pass it. Any bear season will have to be approved by state lawmakers.
Rep. Joe Dorman, D-Rush Springs, sponsored the bear hunting legislation last year. His bill made it out of legislative committee but didn’t make it to the House floor for a vote.
Dorman said the House leadership wouldn’t put it on the calendar for a vote of the full House.
Will there be any political support this time around?
The new North Point Recreation Area will open next week at Lake Stanley Draper, complete with a new fishing pier, boat ramp, picnic shelters, volleyball courts and walking paths.
Included in the development are two new parking lots, a new playground, two volleyball courts, three picnic shelters, a walking patch with additional picnic areas and an American Disabalities Act-accessible fishing pier and courtesy dock.
“Lake Stanley Draper is one of our untapped recreation jewels,” said Wendel Whisenhunt, Parks and Recreation Director.
The area will open to users beginning next Tuesday following a ceremony. Regular hours will be 5 a.m. to 11 p.m.
Beginning Oct. 31, the three picnic shelters will be available for citizens to rent through the Oklahoma City Parks and Recreation Department. Rates are $ 20 for the first two hours and $5 for each additional hour. A refundable deposit of $100 is also required during the off-season from Oct. 31 – April 15.
The North Point (Pt. 10) Recreation Area is located on the north side of Lake Stanley Draper and is accessible from Douglas Boulevard. New stone entry portals at the Douglas exit greet visitors as they come into the lake road.
Additional signage directs visitors to the new recreation area, located approximately ¼ mile east of Douglas, at Point 10.
The total project cost was $2.39 million, with primary funding coming from the 1995 and 2000 General Obligation Bonds.
The Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation and the Federal Aid Sport Fishing Restoration Program have approved more than $500,000 in grant funds to assist with the project.
The grant money is dedicated to the new boat ram, courtesy dock, fishing pier and access road.
State wildlife officials still haven’t resumed putting rainbow trout in the Lower Illinois River below Tenkiller Dam, saying the water temperature remains too warm.
They had hoped by mid-October the water would have cooled enough to resume stocking the river with trout.
“Temperatures need to be 65 degrees or lower in the tailrace during power generation before regular stockings can begin again,” said Gary Peterson of the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation.
No trout has been added to the stream since Aug. 12. Anglers are still having success at the Lower Illinois River catching largemouth bass on topwater lures in the backwaters and weed beds.
Striped bass fishing is good on cut bait and catfishing is fair on cut bait along the bottom of the river.
With the temperatures cooling off, the striper action on the Red River has been heating up again. Fishing guide Norman O’Neal reports big stripers have been slamming 8 to 12 inch shad below the Denison dam.
“I have been catching them with the water running and it is extremely fast action,” O’Neal said.
To reach O’Neal, call (903) 624-4900.