WINTER RAINBOWS: Trout season opens Wednesday at the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation's six winter areas
The state's winter trout areas managed by the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation will open on Wednesday.
Blue River, Robbers Cave, Lake Watonga, Perry Lake Park (a.k.a Perry CCC Lake), Medicine Creek in Medicine Park and Lake Carl Etling are the six waters that are stocked with trout during the winter by the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation.
All get stocked at least every two weeks with rainbow trout, except Lake Carl Etling, which will get a new supply of rainbows every three weeks.
Blue River near Tishomingo is a very popular winter trout destination, and the addition of Medicine Creek three years ago has been a big hit.
Lake Watonga was the first winter area the Wildlife Department stocked with trout in the late ‘80s. It remains a popular destination for Oklahoma City area trout anglers.
“The majority of anglers (at Lake Watonga) are from the city,” said Chas Patterson, northwest fisheries supervisor for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation. “There are a lot of them that come out of Oklahoma City and fish it.”
Lake Watonga is about three to four feet low at present awaiting repairs to the dam, but the work shouldn't interfere with the trout fishing, Patterson said.
“We plan on going ahead and stocking like normal,” Patterson said. “If we get into the construction phase at the end of trout season it may affect it, but right now it doesn't look like it is going to.”
Lake Watonga also is a good bass fishing lake, thanks in part to the rainbow trout which have been credited with putting some pounds on the largemouth bass over the years.
“When the trout starts stressing out when the water warms up, it makes a pretty easy meal for those bass,” Patterson said.
Oklahoma has two year-round trout fisheries at the Lower Mountain Fork River near Broken Bow and the Lower Illinois River near Gore. The Lower Illinois River trout fishery has been plagued with water quality issues for years and currently the Wildlife Department has suspended its trout stocking there.
“Trout stocking has been suspended for about three weeks now,” said Jim Burroughs, northeast fisheries supervisor for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation. “Water quality conditions, temperature and dissolved oxygen, are improving. We hope, and I think, conditions will improve enough within the next two weeks to allow stockings to resume.”
Last year, the Wildlife Department put in 228,385 hatchery-raised rainbows and 30,205 brown trout in Oklahoma waters.
Trout fishing in the Dolese Youth Park Pond in Oklahoma City begins Dec. 1.
Commission mulling senior citizens' fishing fee
A public meeting has been set for Nov. 7 to discuss requiring a permit fee for seniors to fish in Oklahoma City's public waters.
The Oklahoma City Game and Fish Commission is considering the fee for anglers ages 62 and older, who currently can fish for free without any city permit required.
Oklahoma City fishing regulations require anglers ages 16 to 61 to buy a city fishing permit to fish on any of the city's “Close to Home” fishing waters, including lakes and the Oklahoma River.
City fishing permits now cost $18.50 for an annual fishing permit or $3.50 for a daily permit. An Oklahoma state fishing license also is required. Money raised from the Oklahoma City fishing permits goes to the city's general fund.
Game and Fish Commission Chairman Rick Godfrey said the seniors' fee is just an idea. The potential revenue generated might help ensure the Oklahoma City Fish Hatchery remains open, he said.
“The majority of people we see fishing are seniors,” Godfrey said.
Even though there is no present proposal to close the hatchery, Godfrey said he worries about what might happen if the city faces future budget problems. Revenue raised from permits is one way city leaders would know the importance of fishing in Oklahoma City.
“I don't know where we might end up in the next year or two,” he said. "We are thinking we need to ensure something for the future."
The H.B. Parsons Fish Hatchery raises fish to put in Oklahoma City waters.
In recent weeks, more than 5,500 hybrid sunfish, 111,620 striped bass hybrids, and 550 channel catfish were stocked in several “Close to Home” waters and Lake Overholser, along with more than 385,000 walleye fingerlings that were put in Lake Hefner.
All of the fish were raised at the H.B. Parsons Fish Hatchery in Oklahoma City. In addition, the hatchery has created and placed artificial structures such as spider blocks and stake buckets in waters to improve fish habitat.
The public meeting is scheduled for 6 p.m. at the Will Rogers Garden Exhibition Center, 3400 NW 36 St.
Trout Fishing Tips
• Prepared baits such as Berkley Power baits or dough baits are effective. Worms, salmon eggs and corn also are baits of choice.
• For artificial baits, tiny spoons or spinners work. Super Dupers, Panther Martins, Rooster Tails and Mepps spinners are popular choices. Crappie size jigs (marabou and tube) also catch trout.
• Use an ultralight rod and reel spooled with 6-pound or lighter line to produce more strikes.
• Try small hooks (size 10 to 18) and sinkers to keep bait near the bottom and keep trout from detecting any resistance.
• The best fishing is usually during the early morning and late afternoon.
• Concentrate fishing around structures such as behind large rocks, logs and below riffles. Trout tend to congregate above and below waterfalls, in and around deep pools and undercut banks.