Fishing

Photo Credit: Richard Waters/RPS 2019

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Fishing Resources

The Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation is committed to providing quality fishing resources to anglers of all skill levels as well as those who are interested in fishing for the first time. 

LAKE ACCESS CLOSURES

Lake owners/operators control access to their bodies of water. Due to COVID-19, many lakes currently have access closures. Some of these areas have boat ramps and other fishing amenities. For potential fishing access closures and the most up-to-date information in your area, contact your local Game Warden.

PURCHASE A FISHING LICENSE

ODWC Fishing Coordinator Contact

If there is fishing information that you are interested in, but cannot find it on this web page, we want to hear from you. Your input will help us to provide the best possible Oklahoma fishing information for all who seek it.

Summer Fishing Tips (July - August)

  • Smallmouth Bass / Spotted Bass: Want a fun way to beat the summer heat? Try wet-wading a clear water Oklahoma stream with rod and reel for smallmouth and spotted bass. Stream fishing is a great way to introduce someone new to the sport because it provides the most basic knowledge on fish behavior. Remember, there are not natural lakes in Oklahoma, all lakes and reservoirs are man-made from the damming of creeks, streams and rivers, so native fish species such as largemouth bass, spotted bass, and smallmouth bass have riverine DNA ingrained in them. Knowing how to fish for bass in streams will improve your ability to fish for them in still water. Small topwater lures in the morning and evening hours are not only effective, but arguably the most exhilarating way to catch a fish. Try small buzzbaits, torpedo lures and plugs in white, silver and black. As the summer sun begins to overtake the water's surface, focus on shaded areas and deep pools with lots of structure. Small creature baits, grubs or white flukes fished on 1/8th oz to 1/32nd oz jigheads are most effective during the middle of the day. A white fluke may elicit a reactionary bite, even if it doesn't match the local food source. Make sure your grubs and creature baits match the local prey. In most cases, riverine smallmouth and spotted bass target crayfish and sunfish. Turning over a couple of rocks before starting to fish will reveal the color of the local crayfish population. Longear sunfish also make-up a healthy portion of a stream bass' diet. Primary colors of the lure, such as green pumpkin, olive, turquoise and shades of orange are good starting points. Popular public access destinations among Oklahoma stream anglers include Blue River (south-central), Glover River (southeast), Illinois River (northeast), Elk River (northeast), Barren Fork Creek (northeast), Mountain Fork River (southeast) and Rock Creek (south-central).
  • Channel Catfish / Blue Catfish / Flathead Catfish: Unlike many popular freshwater species that feed by sight and sound, catfish primarily rely on taste and touch. Channel catfish are omnivorous and are often referred to as lake-bed trash cans due to their tendency to eat just about anything with scent that will fit in their mouth. Taking channel catfish for table fare is only recommended when taken from clean waters. Channel catfish should be targeted along dam riprap and creek channels. A worm and bobber is an effective way to catch lots of small- to medium-sized channel catfish along dam riprap in the late-evening hours. Punch bait, stink bait, cut bait and other scented baits fished off the bottom with weight are also effective ways to target channel catfish along dam riprap and channels. Channel catfish are much more likely to eat non-live or non-natural baits than flathead and blue catfish. Flathead catfish can be an elusive fish to catch on rod and reel. Like largemouth bass, flatheads love a live bluegill, but locating and casting to flatheads can be difficult. Most anglers catch flatheads on live bait left unattended overnight, such as trotlines, limblines, juglines and yo-yos. For those looking to catch flatheads on rod and reel, focus your efforts in heavily wooded areas, such as coves or backwater that have lots of hollowed logs and stumps. Hook a live bluegill with a sturdy circle hook fished 18-inches below a barrel swivel and ½- to 1-ounce egg weight, cast into the woody areas and let your line soak until you get a take. Blue catfish are a good intermediary to channels and flatheads. Blues can be caught on both live and dead natural baits. Shad are the preferred food choice of blue catfish. Cut shad on a circle hook fished either off the bottom or below a float around creek channel ledges and dam riprap is an effective way to catch lots of blues. Blue and flathead catfish are excellent table fare, especially the belly meat from flatheads. Catfish are most active between sunset and sunrise.

Family Fishing Tips

Odds are you’re not more than 10 minutes away from a local neighborhood pond or lake. Fishing is a fun-filled activity that creates lasting memories for families and an easy way to provide a meal. You don't need a boat, expensive equipment and tackle, or expertise to have a successful family fishing trip. Try these simple tips at a small lake or pond near your home:

  • Equipment needs: 5 1/2 to 6 1/2 foot medium- to light- action rod(s). 4 lb to 8 lb line spooled on spincasting and/or spinning reels. Small plain shank bait hooks. Split-shot weight. Small bobbers. Cup of nightcrawlers. All of these items can be purchased at area sporting good stores such as Walmart, Academy, Bass Pro and Cabela's. Brands such as Zebco and Shakespeare sell rod and reel combos that are already spooled with line (price range $10-$40).
  • Set-up: Tie a hook to the end of your line. Place (1) split-shot weight on the line one-inch above the hook. Place a small bobber on the line 1-3 feet above the split-shot weight. Thread a small piece of night crawler onto the hook and cast your line straight out. When the bobber submerges below the water's surface, quickly reel up the slack and set the hook.

ODWC Fishing Education Pages

ODWC General Fishing Pages