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.

Late Spring / Early Summer Fishing Tips (May - June)

  • Bluegill Sunfish / Redear Sunfish / Green Sunfish: Fishing for sunfish really picks up in May. As water temperatures rise into the mid-70s, sunfish begin spawning in shallow water making them easily accessible to all anglers. Sunfish spawn in bulk numbers. Catching 50 or more fish in a very small area is not uncommon during the spawning period, which is an excellent opportunity to introduce someone new to fishing. It is also a great time of year to catch large sunfish exceeding 10-inches. Sunfish are often thought of as a first fish for new anglers, but 10+ inch fish on micro lite rods with light line will get the most experienced of anglers reinvigorated in pan-fishing. In clearer water, sunfish spawning beds are easily identifiable. The spawning beds look like soccer ball-sized shallow craters and are grouped together sometimes in the hundreds. Redear sunfish attain lengths up to 12 inches and weights to two pounds. They respond best to natural bait and are more difficult to catch than bluegill. Redear sunfish normally inhabit deeper water than bluegill and congregate around stumps, logs and roots. Weed beds are ideal habitat for really big bluegill and redear sunfish. Green sunfish are usually found in the shallowest of water around cover or structure (branches, weeds, cut banks, etc.). Due to its large mouth and voracious appetite green sunfish can often be caught on lures intended for bass. Most people are introduced to sunfish with the most basic of setups: a live worm and a bobber. While this is an excellent method, especially to new anglers and youngsters, sunfish are still predators (just lower on the food chain in most bodies of water) and will take artificial lures and flies. From mid-May to mid-June focus your efforts for sunfish in shallow water in the backs of coves, flats off of main lake areas or creek channels, weedy shoreline and riprap. If you are employing a basic hook, split shot and bobber technique, try night crawlers, crappie nibbles, corn kernels and crickets/grass hoppers. Crappie nibbles work great for catching sunfish, are easy to store (without refrigeration) and do not make the same mess as worms or other natural baits. For artificial lure anglers, try small naturally colored tubes, grubs or swim-baits on a 1/32nd jig head. During the spawning period, the bite can be fast and furious, so artificial lures can save on bait for those looking to catch lots of fish.
  • Channel Catfish / Blue Catfish / Flathead Catfish: Unlike many popular freshwater species that feed by sight and sound, catfish primarily rely on taste and touch. Spawning usually takes place in late May or early June when the water temperature reaches 75 degrees F°. Hollow logs, overhanging underwater ledges or holes under mud banks are typical nesting places. Female catfish lay about 10,000 eggs each. Males guard the eggs against intruders, including females. Eggs hatch in six to 10 days as determined by temperature. After hatching, fry are attended for a short time by the male as they feed in a dense school. While spawning habits and feeding mechanisms are similar, each species is unique in what they eat and how you catch them. Catfish are also much more active in the dark night hours, but can be caught at any time of day. Channel catfish are omnivorous and are often referred to as bottom 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 May while they are gorging during the pre-spawn period. 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.

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