On Sunday, I wrote a column about Rose State College history professor Jim Hochtritt’s poor bass fishing in the Oklahoma City urban “Close to Home” waters.
State wildlife officials say money is the primary reason the bass fishing is so poor in the urban ponds and small lakes, which are primarily stocked with channel cats and bluegills.
Bass is too expensive to raise and stock in the ponds.
Hochtritt is not buying the “party line,” however, and had this to say about the state Wildlife Department’s response to his complaint.
“First, every single one of the Close to Home lakes has a sign that indicates that they have been stocked with largemouth bass, catfish, and sunfish or perch (I cannot recall the term they used for the panfish). They also indicate that the policy is catch and release for the bass. But according to Mr. Gilliland the lakes are “for the most part” home to channel cats and blues. He said that bass are rarely put in the ponds and in some cases the habitat is not there. Well, gee. Then why doesn’t someone create the habitat if they are going to the trouble of putting up a sign that says bass are in the lakes. What logic!Secondly, he claims that it costs about $4 to grow a largemouth bass to 12 inches. Why do the bass have to be 1 pound fish? Why can’t fingerling bass be placed in the ponds and lakes? They would probably die and survive at the same rates that natural fingerlings die and survive. And I can’t believe that a fingerling costs $4 but maybe so. I will have to check into the matter.Moreover, once a healthy bass population is put in a “catch and release” lake or pond, they will self-produce and since most people are too impatient to fish for bass on lakes that get a lot of fishing pressure and such, the ponds and lakes would become self-regenerating like the urban ponds I fished in the San Francisco Bay Area, smack dab in the middle of urban sprawl and congestion. They have had a nice bass population since I was a kid and I’m 55! And they are not, ever stocked, except for the occasion when they had to repair a dam and drain a lake.
I do agree with the bills he says have not gone anywhere. I know that people fight for every little piece of the pie and seeing that local ponds and lakes have healthy fish populations is probably not a high priority.
At the same time, that type of thinking is what discourages me about Oklahoma City. I have lived here for 17 years and I love this state and area very much, but at times, it fails to understand basic quality of life issues. All one has to do is see the lack of well-kept parks, bike trails, green urban spaces, sidewalks, and such, to understand that.
Eagle Lake in Del City is a prime example. It is a nice body of water. It has great fish habit in numerous places. There are catfish, bluegill, spotted gar, and, ah um, bass in it, but it is, I am sure, underfunded, and obviously not a top priority.
If the city cared about fixing it up or if the county did, it could be turned into a beautiful urban space with a paved walking trail around the whole lake, shore access around the whole lake, and green lawns and picnic areas.
Instead, it is garbage strewn, fairly dicey park at certain times of the day, and attracts the kind of people who do not care about themselves much less the park. It is, by all standards, a dump, but I fish it and catch nothing on a fairly regular basis because it is convenient and close to home. I look at a space like that and think, this is the mindset of Oklahoma. In almost any other city or state, that lake would be pretty instead of an eyesore.
Midwest Regional Park is a classis example of something done right. Years ago, there was not much there, but the city has spent a lot of time and effort fixing that place up and now, surprise of surprises, it is used on a regular basis by all kinds of people. It’s a beehive of activity from morning until evening.
People get very excited about a pro-basketball franchise, and deservedly so, but other amenities in the metro area are sadly lacking. Quality of life means many things, and just claiming to be a major league city because we have a NBA franchise is rather short-sighted.
Since living here, I have always found it highly ironic that I am in the “country,” if you will, and yet I had better places to fish in the San Francisco Bay Area or I can find better places to fish in the suburbs of St. Louis. All I can do is shake my head and laugh.”
The Wall Street Journal had an interesting story today on female hunters, which has gained attention since the vice-presidential nomination of Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, who is a big game hunter and supposedly knows how to field dress a moose.
While the overall number of hunters have declined in the last 15 years, female hunters have slightly increased. The story chronicled how female hunters are now taken seriously by those in the outdoors industry.
One of the women interviewed in the Wall Street Journal story was Beth Ann Amico, who operates Deep Fork Retrievers in Choctaw with her husband, John.
Amico pointed out how outdoor manufacturers once assumed that slapping pink on such things as weapons and camo would get women to buy their products.
“Initially, their attitude was pink it and shrink it and women will buy,” Amico said. “We’re savvier than that.”
Steve Barnes, a fishing guide on Lake Texoma who operates out of Denison, Texas, reports the fall striper bite is already underway on Lake Texoma.
“The Lake Texoma fishing is back on track for this fall,” Barnes said. “We have been catching limits of decent size fish in the mornings and afternoons but the afternoons have been producing more bigger fish. No skinny fish like last fall.
“Most fish have been caught on river ledges in 30 to 40 feet of water with live shad and some topwater action early. The lake has early turned over (about three weeks early) so the fall bite has started early.
“The quality of the fish is much better than it was last year so I will mostly fishing the lake this fall but will probably still fish a few river trips. River fishing has been up and down. Some days you catch nice fish and other days they are small, but it should improve as the water cools.”
To book a trip with Barnes, visit www.txfishingguide.com
Two Oklahoma anglers have qualified for the Women’s Bassmaster Tour to be held Oct. 23-25 on Lake Hamilton in Hot Springs, Ark.
Sheri Glasgow of Muskogee, last year’s Angler of the Year on the Women’s Bassmaster Tour, finished fifth in the season points standing to qualify in the pro division.
Denese Freeman of Lawton, finished 17th in the co-angler points race to qualify for the event. The top 20 pros and co-anglers qualify.
Lake Fork, the famous big bass lake in east Texas, will have a 7-month long bass tournament beginning Oct. 1.
The tournament is open to all anglers who pay the $20 entry fee. If you catch a largemouth bass during that time that is one of the top 50 in Texas, you will win $10,000.
If you beat Texas’ 10th largest bass, you win $20,000. If you catch a state record, you win $50,000. And if you beat the world record with a Lake Fork bass, you win $100,000.
For complete details and rules of the Lake Fork Bounty Bonanza, visit www.lakeforkbountybonanza.com.
Backyard Bassin’ has set its fall-winter tournament dates. Nov. 2 at Lake Murray (north unloading ramp); Nove. 30 at Lake Texoma (Catfish Bay); Dec. 14 at Arbuckle (Guy Sandy Ramp); Dec. 28 at Lake Texoma (Catfish Bay); Championship, Jan. 25 at Arbuckle (Guy Sandy Ramp).
The Oklahoma Fur Bearers Alliance will hold its 2008 fall convention Oct. 18 at the VFW hall on the northeast side of McAlester. For more information, call John Weygandt at (918) 645-5667.
If you are not an outdoorsman but think you might want to be, visit the Oklahoma Wildlife Expo this weekend at the Lazy E Arena and you can get a taste of it.
It’s a great event for kids and novices, although expect it to be crowded. With great weather in the forecast, I would expect it to be a busy weekend on the grounds of the Lazy E Arena, near Guthrie, where the Expo is being held.
The event is free, which also makes it a big draw. You can win stuff and even sample vittles such as buffalo chili, venison jerky and fried catfish.
Visitors to the Expo get to try a variety of outdoor activies. You can fish for catfish in a pond, shoot a shotgun and a bow, ride a mountain bike, build a blue bird house, paddle around on an indoor pond in a kayak, learn about camping, etc., etc.
The Expo is put on by the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation. State wildlife officials originally didn’t allow private vendors at the Expo, but so many people wanted to buy stuff they have added an Outdoor Marketplace so visitors can shop.
The Expo will be Friday, Saturday and Sunday in the Lazy E Arena and on the grounds. The hours are 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. each day.
Friday might the best day to avoid the crowds, although several schools in the state are taking field trips to the Expo that day and 4,000 kids are expected.
The Oklahoma River is hosting a very unique event this weekend: The World Wakeboarding Championships.
There will be wakeboarding and wakeskating beginning at 9 a.m. Friday, Saturday and Sunday. The pro division finals are on Sunday which should make for some impressive acrobatics on the water.
Nearly 200 wakeboarders and wakeskaters from a dozen countries are competing on the Oklahoma River.
Wakeboarders are judged on the overall composition and the execution and variety of tricks and aerial stunts. On the river, there will be rails and ramps the riders will use to perform tricks while maneuvering at a speed of 25 mph.
Two judges ride along in the tow boat while three other judges watch from the shore and judge’s tower. A wakeboarder can earn as much as 100 points for each ride.
There also is a division for wakeskating, which is performed on a smaller board. The riders also are not binded in like they are when wakeboarding.
There are 16 separate divisions based on age, gender and skill level. Two pros are trying to make history.
Florida’s Dallas Friday, 21, the most decorated female wakeboarder in the world, is seeking a record-tying fourth championship on the women’s side.
Florida’s Philip Soven, 19, is seeking his third title in four years in the men’s pro division. A third crown would tie a pro wakeboarding record.
: There are three Oklahomans competing as amateurs, including 16-year-old Taylor Kress of Edmond who is in the junior men’s division.
The junior men’s division is like the minor league or college varsity equivalent of pro wakeboarding and those athletes are next in line to go pro.
The pros in the men’s division are competing for a total purse of $33,000.
You can watch the competition at the old airpark, SW 17 and Western. There will be a carnival-like atmosphere on the river, with music and tents where people can buy wakeboards and accessories along with food and drink. Autograph sessions are scheduled each day.
Bring your lawn chair if you plan to stay long. Tickets for adults are $10 on Saturday and Sunday and $5 for children ages 6 to 12. Admission is free for ages 5 and younger.
On Friday, admission is free.
Last Sunday I asked readers their opinion of the best shotguns ever made, mentioning the Browning A-5 and the Remington 870. Below are the comments I received from readers.
”I have a Belgium made A-5 (light 20 gauge) which is about as good as they get for the following reasons: superb quality of manufacturing; five-shot capacity; will shoot reloaded or new shells all day without malfunctions; very lightweight to carry and swing on target; easy to change the barrel and lastly, the design seems to make pointing a natural motion.” – J. Paul Gragg, Oklahoma City
“My vote is for the Winchester Model 12. This gun is known not only for its excellent handling but is a great all-around firearm to use in the field or on the trap range.” – Mike Cook, Duncan
“My uncle gave me a Remington 870 pump about 25 years ago. It had been used quite a bit already and I’ve continued to fire away with it. I have not owned or even shot the Browning model that you referenced, but it would have to be an extrardinary gun to pull me away from the 870.” – Mark Webb, Durant
“My vote goes for the model 12 Winchester pump 20 gauge modified choke. I’ve used this for 30-some years. It has been maintenance free. They are reasonably priced and very durable. I also had a Belgium-made Browning A-5 I couldn’t master. I gave it to my son and he loves it.” - Carl Williams, Kingfisher
“My vote for the best shotgun of all time is the Model 12 Winchester pump. Its fit, finish and overall quality is head and shoulders above any other shotgun in my opinion.” – Tom Hayes, Purcell
“For me, it is the classic Mossberg 500 pump. While it may not be as expensive as a Remington or nowhere near and intricate as the Benelli, the Mossberg is a tough utility shotgun that can be used for dove, turkey, qual, and yes, even sporting clays. I believe you could drop the thing from an airplane and it would function adequately.” – Ron Black, host of the WILD Oklahoma radio and TV show
“It has to be the 870.” - Chris Thomas, Midwest City
“My vote is for the Franchi 20 gauge automatic. It is the lightest (minimal recoil) most versatile and deadly shotgun I have ever used in my 38 years of hunting. Great for all upland game and waterfowl. Wouldn’t have another! - Jim Chapman
“My vote for the best shotgun would have to go to the Ithaca Model 37 Featherweight (the one gun my Dad got for me in 1959 when I was awarded the Boy Scout Eagle Badge). The gun is light, doesn’t kick, is almost weatherproof (with its downward ejection). Mine is a 20 gauge, but my vote goes for the entire Ithaca 37 lineup. The Remington 870 is a good gun, too, but kind of bulky when compared to the Model 37.” – Sam Ebersole, Perry
“Out of the two guns I believe the Remington 870 is best. Why is that? Well, I have owned a lot of shotguns and owned both the A-5 and the 870 and after awhile, I had trouble with the A-5 not wanting to eject shells all the way and I have owned the 870 over 10 years now and I haven’t had any problems with it. But I think the best shotgun ever is the Ruger Red Label.” – Mitchell Loudermilk
“I bought (a Browning A-5) in ’62 for $159. To me, that’s the best that’s ever been made, I think, and I have used quite a few shotguns. It would eject shells perfectly and fire as fast you could pull the trigger. I shot many a box of shells in it. Never had to take it to the gun shop (for repair). I kept it oiled and cleaned. “ 87-year-old Arnold Heath of Norman
“I guess now my secret will be public. The best all around shotgun is positively the Ruger Red Label. I prefer 20 gauge with European Stock. Here is why. Great fit and handling. Quick to the shoulder (in the Euro stock). Good balance and weight, leading to low recoil and good swing through. Reasonably priced (used to be better, the demand is driving prices up). Can be used for skeet, sporting clays and game hunting equally well. Reliable. I’ve shot literally thousands of rounds through mine without a misfire or jam. Forcing cones are just right, yielding superb pattern and low recoil.” – Sheldon Lackey, Edmond
“The Browning A-5, Belgium-made, gets my vote. Why? Because it has never failed me in its mechanical operation!!!!! Mine is a low serial number which I have owned since 1969.” Gene Bartnicki, Duncan
The Oklahoma Station Chapter of Safari Club International and Wild Game Outfitters have partnered to provide a special hunting and fishing adventure for two Oklahoma combat veterans of the post-9/11 war on terrorism.
In January or February, two veterans will be provided lodging and meals for three days of hunting and fishing near Porum.
They will each be given a guided hunt for a cow elk on the Duchess Creek Ranch, as well as guided fishing on Lake Eufaula. Virtually all expenses for the veterans and their companions will be paid.
The hunting and fishing adventures will be shown on the “Redneck Adventures” television show..
A complete description is provided on SCI’s website, http://www.oklahomastationsci.org/.
By clicking on “Special Hunt for Oklahoma Veterans”, you can read all the details, see who is eligible, and find out how to nominate a veteran (or apply yourself). Nominations need to be received by Oct. 31.
SCI is challenging other Oklahoma organizations, businesses, and individuals to join as a partner in this way of saying thank you to all of the military men and women serving our country.
If you would like to discuss how to contribute, e-mail SCI Oklahoma Chapter vice president Mike Mistelske at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Who is the best bass fisherman in the state? Tough question.
I cast my vote for Edwin Evers of Talala, who just ended the BASS Elite Series with a sixth-place finish in the Angler of the Year standings.
It was Evers’ highest finish in the AOY race. There are several other anglers you can make a case for the best fisherman from Oklahoma: veteran Tommy Biffle of Wagoner, FLW pro Darrell Robertson of Jay, etc.
But Evers is currently the most consistent. Competing against the top anglers in the world on the Elite Series, Evers now has finished in the top 11 of the AOY standings three of the last four years. That’s why he gets my vote.
Shawnee angler finishes second
Kudos to Tyler Dennis of Shawnee, a member of the OKC Junior Bassmasters, who finished second in the ages 11-14 division Sunday in the Junior World Bassmaster Championship on New York’s Lake Onondaga.
Dennis caught five fish totaling 14 pounds, 8 ounces, including the big bass of the day that weighed 4 pounds, 4 ounces.
The winner, Jordan McMorris of New Mexico, caught 15 pounds, 13 ounces. Dennis earned $1,000 for big bass and a $2,000 scholarship for finishing second in the tournament.
Colt McMahan of Tecumseh, another OKC Junior Bassmasters member, finished 13th in the ages 15 to 18 division of the Junior Bassmasters World Championship, catching a sack of 13 pounds, 9 ounces.
Waterfowlers who hunted at Liberty Lake near Guthrie will be looking for a new place for their blinds this season.
The Guthrie City Council voted unanimously last month to ban hunting at Liberty Lake after a park board member told the council that hunting was unsafe for a multi-use area. By that logic, you would have to ban duck hunting on every lake in the state.
I haven’t found anyone who can recall a hunting accident at Liberty Lake, but Guthrie City Clerk Wanda Calvert told me Wednesday that the primary reason for banning hunting and other recreational activities was to get the lake cleaned up.
Guthrie’s city manager told council members last month that the lake has been the site of teen-age partying and illegal activities and that city officials intend to reclaim the lake.
You can watch a video of the recent Guthrie city council meeting and the discussion about Liberty Lake at this link: http://www.cityofguthrie.com/Channel20/VOD_Council.htm
“The main reason for (banning duck hunting at Liberty Lake) is to get it cleaned up,” Calvert said. “We closed it for ATVs. ATVs can’t ride in there. We just got to get it cleaned up.”
Once the lake has been “reclaimed” by city officials, recreational uses such as waterfowl hunting may be reconsidered, Calvert said.
Until that happens, the loss of hunting opportunity at Liberty Lake is another blow against hunters in Oklahoma. The playing field continues to shrink.