Oklahoma's newest bass regulation goes into effect Sunday, September 11, bringing a welcomed treat to your lunch and dinner table. There is no longer a minimum length limit on largemouth and smallmouth bass in ponds and lakes. The daily limit of six (6) remains in effect and only one (1) may be over 16-inches.

This new rule seeks to improve the overall size and health of Oklahoma's black bass population, primarily focusing on largemouth bass. ODWC recommends harvesting 8-inch to 15-inch largemouth bass, especially at lakes with an overabundance (see bottom of article for a list of top lakes).

Bass

Largemouth bass in this size range are the best to eat for a number of reasons.

First, it helps to sustain a healthy size structure in a body of water through less competition, meaning more food to go around. Fish can become stunted in small bodies of water. Also, the health of the bass population as well as the prey source declines when there are too many similarly sized mouths to feed.

Second, fish continue to grow for their entire life, but grow the fastest in the first few years. Eating fish under 16-inches means that the fish has had less time to accumulate elements like mercury in their meat that can pose health hazards to humans. Fish over 16-inches are great for catch and release, photos and trophy mounts.

Thirdly, smaller fish tend to have better tasting meat with a more desirable firm texture. Older, larger fish tend to have a fishier taste and mushier texture.

8-inch to 15-inch bass fillets are perfect for fried strips or bites. They also sear well in a pan for fish tacos. Whole fillets can be lightly seasoned and buttered and thrown on the grill, wrapped in foil, for a healthier option.

Double Bass

In addition to being delicious, bass in the best eater-size range are also fairly easy to catch. They inhabit shallow structure and cover near the bank looking for easy meals like bugs, invertebrates and small bait fish. Areas such as coves, marinas, rocky or woody banks are ideal fishing locations, making access to this resource available to all.


FISHING TIPS

Largemouth bass are ambush predators that like to hide in brush, rock piles, grass or any other type of structure that provides good cover. Casting live bait or artificial lures and flies toward these types of areas will yield the best results. Keep your lure or bait small in size, less than 3-inches.

Top Bait

Natural/live bait can be drifted below a bobber or fished off the bottom with weight. Small- to medium-sized bait holding hooks and 1/16th up to 1/4th ounce weights are ideal tackle.

Grasshoppers

Grasshoppers are a cheap sustainable bait for fishing. They're fairly easy to catch by hand and even easier to catch with a net. A small hook and bobber is all that is needed. Simply thread the hook point through the middle of the grasshopper and cast.

Watch Bass Love Grasshoppers! on YouTube.
Nightcrawlers

Canadian nightcrawlers are one of the largest commonly available worms. They are sometimes called "dew worms" because they are sometimes found outside in the early morning when there is morning dew still on the ground and nearby plants. The scientific name for them is Lumbricus terrestris. Other names include "lobworm" or just "nightcrawlers." Despite the name, Canadian nightcrawlers are believed to have originated in Europe.

Watch Basic Worm and Bobber Fishing Setup (with knots) on YouTube.
Red Worms

Known under various common names such as manure worm, brandling worm, panfish worm, trout worm, tiger worm, and red wiggler worm, the red worm is a species of earthworm adapted to decaying organic material. These worms thrive in rotting vegetation, compost, and manure. They are epigean, meaning they crawl on the surface of soil, but are rarely found in soil.

Red Worms
Minnows

Minnows are sold in an array of species. The most common minnows sold are fathead minnows and goldfish, but any minnow will work. Bait and tackle stores that advertise "live bait" will have a minnow tank either inside or outside the store. Minnows are typically sold by the dozen, but price and quantity can vary.

Watch Fishing Basics: Using live minnows on YouTube.
Top Lures

Small artificial lures, less than 3" and no more than 1/8th ounce, are ideal tackle for catching eater-size bass. Soft plastics in natural colors paired with a 1/0 offset hook or 1/32nd up to 1/8th ounce jighead are a great starting point. Spinnerbaits, crankbaits and top water lures are also effective. If the water is muddy or cloudy try white or chartreuse colors. In normal or clear water stick to earth tones like green pumpkin, watermelon, orange, black, brown, or purple.

Spinnerbaits
Johnson Beetle Spin
Spinnerbait
Crankbaits
Lipped Crankbait
Lipless Crankbait

 

Tubes/Grubs/Creatures
Squirmin' Squirt
Zoom Fat Albert
Bandito Bugs
Worms
Z-Man Finesse TRD
YUM Dinger
Top Water
Hula Popper
Jitterbug
Berkley Choppo
Top Flies

Dry flies are great in the summer and fall months. Terrestrial bugs, poppers and dragon flies are all effective, especially in the morning and evening hours. Stripping bead or jighead flies in shades of green, brown, black, orange or purple are great when cast parallel with the shoreline, particularly where there are weed-lines, rocky and/or woody structure.

Stripping Flies
Clouser Minnow
Woolly Bugger
  • Size 2/0 to Size 6 jig or bead-head fly in shades of green, brown, black, white or orange
Chocklett's Polar Changer in tan, jig/beadhead fly lure.

 

Nymph Flies
Stone Fly
Yellow Sally
Pheasant Tail
Dry Flies
Bett's Popper
Hopper
Stimulator

CLEANING TIPS

While many people enjoy fishing for sport, many others catch fish to use as food. Fish has always been an important part of the diet. And being able to clean and cook a fish that you caught is great, especially for those who enjoy the taste of fish!

When cleaning your fish, filleting means cutting out the meat of the fish without the bones. Larger fish, like largemouth bass, catfish, striped bass and walleye, are usually filleted. A filleted fish has its skin and all of its bones removed before cooking.

Fillet knives have a long, thin blade that’s very sharp and specifically designed for filleting fish. To work properly, the knife must be really sharp. If you have any slime on your hands or the fillet knife handle, wash it off to prevent slipping.

Tip: When learning how to fillet a fish, you can also wear metal- or rubber-mesh fish-cleaning gloves to protect your hands. 

12 Steps to Fillet a Fish

STEP 1

Place the fish on its side on a flat surface.

Filet
STEP 2

Cut the fish behind its gills and pectoral fin down to, but not through, the backbone.

Filet

 

STEP 3

Turn the fish so that its back (dorsal fin) is facing you. Make a long slice along the back of the fish from the cut you made behind the gills all the way to the tail.

STEP 4

Repeat this slicing motion until you can lift the meat part way away from the back bone with your thumb.

STEP 5

Once you can lift the meat partially away, continue to run the tip of the knife along the ribs of the fish till you lift the fillet most of the way off the carcass.

STEP 6

Push the blade of your fillet knife all the way through the body of fish from the dorsal (top) side through to belly at the anal vent, and pull the knife towards the tail to separate the fillet from the rest of the fish.

STEP 7

Repeat these steps on the other side of the fish.

STEP 8

Put the fillet on the table with the skin side down. Insert the knife blade about a half-inch from the tail, gripping firmly, and put the blade between the skin and the meat at an angle.

Filet

 

STEP 9

Using a little pressure and a sawing motion, cut against, but not through, the skin.

STEP 10

Remove the fillets from the skin.

STEP 11

Wash each fillet in cold water.

STEP 12

Pat dry with a clean cloth or paper towel. The fillets are ready to cook or freeze.

Watch 2 Ways to Fillet a Largemouth Bass on YouTube.

COOKING TIPS

Cooking is the next-to-last step in finishing a great fishing trip. Below is a simple recipe for cooking your fish fillet. 

Pan Frying Fish 

Pan frying is a popular way to cook fish, and it is the quickest and easiest way to cook your catch at your campsite, at the park or on shore. 

6 Steps to Pan Fry Fish

STEP 1

First, coat the fish fillet with flour. Feel free to add your favorite seasonings to the flour before coating.

Flour
STEP 2

Dredge the flour-covered fillet in a beaten egg.

Dredge

 

STEP 3

Coat the fillet with bread crumbs.

Breading
STEP 4

Heat some cooking oil in a skillet. Test the heat by dropping some bread crumbs into the skillet. If it sizzles, the oil is hot enough. 

STEP 5

Add your fish to the skillet, cooking on each side for 3 or 4 minutes, or until the coating is brown.

Cooking
STEP 6

The final step to a successful fishing trip is enjoying the taste of your catch. Enjoy with fellow anglers or family and friends.

Plate
Watch How to cook Largemouth Bass on YouTube.

TOP LAKES

These lakes have been identified by ODWC's Fisheries Division as having an overabundance of bass under 16-inches. 

American Horse
Overhead view of American Horse Lake.

American Horse Lake (Google Map) is located in Blaine County 10 miles west of Geary (S5,T13N,R12W).

American Horse Lake was constructed by the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation in 1966. Vegetation around the lake is post-oak-blackjack forest and mixed-grass eroded plains types. 

The lake has one concrete boat ramp, several picnic tables, and one water well. Geary is the nearest town in which to obtain picnic and fishing supplies. The lake supports an abundant population of good-sized bluegill and catchable-size largemouth bass.

Watch American Horse Lake on YouTube.
Contacts
Lake Details
  • Shoreline Length: 6.80 mi.
  • Volume: 2,200.00 ac. ft.
  • Max. Depth: 75.00 ft.
  • Surface Area: 100.00 ac.
Recreational Facilities

The lake has one concrete boat ramp, several picnic tables and one water well. Geary is the nearest town in which to obtain picnic and fishing supplies. The lake supports an abundant population of good-sized bluegill and catchable size largemouth bass.

Campgrounds Nearby
Bait & Tackle Nearby
Management Practices

Largemouth bass spring electrofishing and fall hoop nets to evaluate fish populations. Cedar trees are added to refurbish existing habitats.

Area Specific Fishing Regulations
  • Daily/Size Limits
    • Channel and/or blue catfish: six combined per day.
  • Methods
    • Two rods and reels per person. Bowfishing allowed. All other methods are prohibited.
Additional Resources
Birch
Birch Lake

Birch Lake (Google Map) is located 2 miles south of SH 11 on 8th St.

Contacts
Lake Details
  • Shoreline Length: 31.00 mi.
  • Volume: 19,000.00 ac. ft.
  • Max. Depth: 52.50 ft.
  • Surface Area: 1,137.00 ac.
Recreational Facilities

U.S. Corps of Engineers manages campgrounds, boat ramps, picnic areas and designated swimming areas.

Campgrounds Nearby
Bait & Tackle Nearby
Management Practices

Hybrid striped bass are stocked.

Additional Resources
Bixhoma
Bixhoma

Bixhoma Lake (Google Map) is located 2 miles south of Leonard on Bixoma Lake Rd.

Contacts
Campgrounds Nearby
Bait & Tackle Nearby
ADA Information

The northwest shoreline has a fishing dock. For additional info contact Wagnor County, (918) 366-3859.

Additional Resources
Carl Blackwell
Lake Carl Blackwell

Lake Carl Blackwell (Google Map) is located 2 miles north of SH 51 on SH 51C.

Contacts
Recreational Facilities

Oklahoma State University manages campgrounds with full RV hookups, cabins, boat ramps, fishing docks and designated swimming areas. An enclosed crappie dock is located just north of the lake store.

Campgrounds Nearby
Bait & Tackle Nearby
Management Practices

Hybrid striped bass are stocked. Saugeye are stocked to manage for quality crappie.

ADA Information

Ski Point boat ramp is ADA compliant.

Area Specific Fishing Regulations
  • Daily/Size Limits
    • Walleye, sauger and saugeye: six combined per day/18-inch minimum.
  • Methods
    • Noodling is prohibited.
Additional Resources
Carl Etling
Carl Etling, photo by Darrin Hill

Lake Carl Etling (Google Map) is located 26 miles northwest of Boise City in Cimarron County within Black Mesa State Park. Vegetation around the lake is pinon-juniper-mesa type. (S5&6,T4N,R2E). The lake has two boat ramps, good picnic and camping facilities, and state park cabins.

Good populations of largemouth bass, flathead catfish, walleye, and smallmouth bass are present. 

Lake Carl Etling was constructed by the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation in 1958.

Contacts
Lake Details
  • Shoreline Length: 4.50 mi.
  • Volume: 1,717.00 ac. ft.
  • Max. Depth: 38.00 ft.
  • Surface Area: 159.00 ac.
Recreational Facilities

The lake has two boat ramps, good picnic, camping facilities and state park cabins.

Campgrounds Nearby
Bait & Tackle Nearby
Management Practices

Good populations of largemouth bass, flathead catfish, walleye, and smallmouth bass are present.

Area Specific Fishing Regulations
  • Daily/Size Limits
    • Channel and/or blue catfish: six combined per day.
  • Methods
    • Two rods and reels per person. Bowfishing allowed. Cast nets may be used to take bait for personal use. All other methods are prohibited.
Additional Resources
Dripping Springs
Dripping Springs

Dripping Springs Lake (Google Map) is located 6.5 miles southwest of SH 56 on Dripping Springs Rd. Dripping Springs Lake is a fishing only lake (no water sports allowed) operated by the City of Okmulgee. Dripping Springs Lake contains one boat ramp, one boat dock and one fishing dock.

Contacts
Lake Details
  • Shoreline Length: 22.00 mi.
  • Volume: 17,008.00 ac. ft.
  • Max. Depth: 36.00 ft.
  • Surface Area: 1,055.00 ac.
Recreational Facilities

City of Okmulgee manages campgrounds with full RV hookups, a boat ramp and fishing dock.

Campgrounds Nearby
Bait & Tackle Nearby
Management Practices

Florida strain largemouth bass are stocked frequently.

ADA Information

Boat ramp and fishing dock are ADA compliant.

Additional Resources
Hugo
Hugo Lake, photo by Kelly Adams

Hugo Lake (Google Map) is located 7 miles east of Hugo on US 70.

Contacts
Lake Details
  • Shoreline Length: 98.60 mi. 
  • Volume: 126,741.00 ac. ft.
  • Max. Depth: 51.50 ft.
  • Surface Area: 11,592.00 ac.
Recreational Facilities

U.S. Corps of Engineers and Little Dixie Community manage campgrounds with full RV hookups, cabins, boat ramps, designated swimming areas and trails for hiking, biking, and equestrian.

Campgrounds Nearby
Bait & Tackle Nearby
Additional Resources
Konawa
Konawa Lake, photo by Kelly Adams

Konawa Lake (Google Map) is located just east of Konawa between SH 39, US 377 (SH 3E & Sh 99), SH 3 and 140 Rd. Operated by OG&E. Konawa Lake contains 3 boat ramps and picnic areas. No Camping. No Fees. 

Konawa Lake was constructed by Oklahoma Gas and Electric Company and first opened to recreational uses in 1971.

Fish stockings began shortly after with a focus on Florida largemouth bass, Hybrid striped bass and forage species. In 1994, a slot length limit for largemouth bass of 16-22 inches with only one bass over 22 inches was put in place to increase the numbers of trophy size bass for anglers. Bass regulations changed once again in 2003 to six bass per day of which only one may be 22 inches or longer. The purpose of this regulation was to encourage more angler harvest of smaller bass. Florida largemouth bass stocking ceased in 2005 to further prevent overcrowding. These changes appeared to be working with a sizeable decrease in largemouth bass abundance by 2006, however, abundance has increased and varied slightly since.

In recent years hybrid striped bass stockings have been reduced with the purpose of reducing competition for forage in order to maintain growth rates of largemouth bass.

Konawa Lake is an excellent largemouth bass and channel catfish fishery.

Contacts
Lake Details
  • Shoreline Length: 20.30 mi.
  • Volume: 23,000.00 ac. ft.
  • Max. Depth: 40.00 ft.
  • Surface Area: 1,350.00 ac.
Recreational Facilities

OG&E manages 3 boat ramps, picnic areas and a designated swimming area.

Bait & Tackle Nearby
Management Practices

Hybrid striped bass are stocked periodically. Fish attractors are maintained to help increase angler success.

Area Specific Fishing Regulations
  • Methods
    • Rod and reel, bowfishing, and noodling are allowed. All other methods are prohibited.
Additional Resources
McMurtry
Lake McMurtry

Lake McMurtry (Google Map) is located 6 miles north of SH 51 via 180 Rd. An enclosed crappie dock is located on the west side of the lake.

Contacts
Lake Details
  • Shoreline Length: 23.60 mi. 
  • Volume: 19,733.00 ac. ft.
  • Max. Depth: 43.60 ft.
  • Surface Area: 1,155.00 ac.
Recreational Facilities

City of Stillwater manages campgrounds with full RV hookups and boat ramps.

Campgrounds Nearby
Bait & Tackle Nearby
Management Practices

Brushpiles are placed around the lake for anglers to utilize. Saugeye are stocked to help improve crappie size.

Additional Resources
Skiatook
Skiatook Lake

Skiatook Lake (Google Map) is located 10 miles west of Skiatook on US 20. Operated by the US Army Corp of Engineers.

Contacts
Lake Details
  • Shoreline Length: 187.00 mi.
  • Volume: 322,700.00 ac. ft.
  • Surface Area: 10,190.00 ac.
Recreational Facilities

U.S. Corps of Engineers manages campgrounds, boat ramps and designated swimming areas.

Campgrounds Nearby
Bait & Tackle Nearby
Management Practices

Florida strain largemouth bass, hybrid striped bass and walleye are stocked.

Area Specific Fishing Regulations
  • Daily/Size Limits
    • Striped bass and striped bass hybrids (does not include white bass): five per day, of which only two may be 20 inches or longer.
Additional Resources
Stroud
Stroud Lake

Stroud Lake (Google Map) is located 7 miles northeast of Stroud on OK-99 N and E 840 Rd.

Contacts
Campgrounds Nearby
Bait & Tackle Nearby
Additional Resources
Vincent
Vincent Lake, photo by Kelly Adams

Lake Vincent (Google Map) is located in the Ellis County Public Hunting Area in Ellis County, 13 miles southwest of Arnett (S1&12, T18N, R26W). Vegetation around the lake is shinnery oak-grassland type. 

The lake has one boat ramp and picnic areas. Arnett is the nearest town in which to obtain picnic and fishing supplies. This lake is known for its redear sunfish catches along with largemouth bass, saugeye, bluegill, channel, and blue catfish, and crappie.

Lake Vincent was constructed by the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation in 1961. It was renovated and restocked in 2000.

Contacts
Lake Details
  • Shoreline Length: 5.10 mi.
  • Volume: 2,579.00 ac. ft.
  • Max. Depth: 48.00 ft.
  • Surface Area: 160.00 ac.
Recreational Facilities

The lake has one boat ramp and picnic areas. Arnett is the nearest town in which to obtain picnic and fishing supplies. This lake is known for its redear sunfish catches along with largemouth bass, saugeye, bluegill sunfish, channel catfish, blue catfish and crappie.

Bait & Tackle Nearby
Area Specific Fishing Regulations
  • Daily/Size Limits
    • Channel and/or blue catfish: six combined per day.
  • Methods
    • Two rods and reels per person. Bowfishing allowed. All other methods are prohibited.
Additional Resources

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