Lake Texoma, with its scenic shorelines and renowned fishery, is often called the “Striped Bass Capital of the World.” But that accolade relies on a healthy striped bass population and enforcement of regulations that limit the number and size of stripers removed from the lake.
So, when Oklahoma Game Wardens received a tip that a licensed fishing guide was keeping more than the lake’s daily limit of 10 striped bass per person, and exceeding the number of 20-inch-plus bass each person could legally catch and keep, they launched an investigation.
“We rely on tips from the public. But to make the case, we needed to witness the violation or have proof the violation occurred,” said Game Warden Billy Bob Walker, based in Marshall County. “This particular guide was notorious for cleaning the day’s fish in a secluded cove instead of going to a dock with a cleaning station. Unless we knew the area of the lake he would be fishing that day, we didn’t have a way to catch him without going undercover.”
Oklahoma Game Warden Billy Bob Walker conducts a fishing license check while patrolling Lake Texoma. Walker was an observer during a recent investigation that revealed striper regulation violations on the lake.
In August 2019, two undercover Game Wardens posed as clients and set out with the guide and a deckhand for a day of fishing while Walker and a fourth plainclothes Game Warden observed from a nearby boat. When the guide was hired, it was agreed the guide would track the number of fish caught so that the daily possession and length limits allowed for the four people on the boat were not exceeded.
But when the operation was over, 42 striped bass had been kept, two fish over the daily possession limit. A majority of those fish were longer than 20 inches, when only eight ish were allowed over the lake’s length limit given the number of people on the boat.
An arrest was made and the guide was charged with 32 misdemeanors, one count per over limit fish. Nearly four months later, the guide pleaded guilty to all charges and agreed to pay the associated fines.
“Guides can be a great introduction to the sport of fishing. They can help everyone on the boat have a good time, enjoy Lake Texoma, and have a chance to catch a good fish,” Walker said. “But it’s important that we all work together to make sure the resource stays healthy and available to other anglers.”
General fishing regulations, along with special regulations that apply to specific public fishing waters, can be found in the Oklahoma Hunting and Fishing Regulations Guide, available online at wildlifedepartment.com or in print at license vendors statewide.
Cooper Walker, son of Game Warden Billy Bob Walker, holds a striped bass at Lake Texoma, which is often called "The Striped Bass Capital of the World."