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Tenkiller Lake, photo by Steve Webber


Fees & Facilities:
Game Warden (County):
(918) 431-2562(Cherokee)
(918) 431-2552(Cherokee)
(918) 431-2550(Sequoyah)
(918) 431-2544(Sequoyah)

Impounded in 1952, Tenkiller is the only controlled impoundment on the Illinois River and can experience prolonged drastic lake level fluctuations.  Situated in the Ozark highlands, Tenkiller is a deep, clear lake dominated by a shoreline with rocky bluffs and outcroppings.  There are numerous public access areas, including two state parks, and Tenkiller is very popular for all types of recreation.  Due to its depth, the lake provides cool water for the popular year-round trout fishery in the tailwaters.

Lake Tenkiller (Google Map) is located 10 miles south of Tahlequah on US 82 and S Indian Rd.

Lake Details

Shoreline Length: 170.00 mi.
Volume: 654100.00 ac. ft.
Max. Depth: 132.70 ft.
Surface Area: 12900.00 ac.


Cherokee, Sequoyah Counties

U.S. Corps of Engineers and Oklahoma State Parks manages campgrounds with full RV hookups, boat ramps and designated swimming areas.

Largemouth and smallmouth bass are subject to a 13-16" no harvest slot limit. Crappie must be a minimum of 10-inches and have a daily limit of 15.

Public-use areas provide easy access to the shoreline. Private resorts in the Burnt Cabin, Caney Creek and Tenkiller State Park areas operate fishing dock concessions.

Daily/Size Limits:

(Downstream from Horseshoe Bend boat ramp to dam)

All crappie: 15 combined per day/10-inch minimum.


(Downstream from Horseshoe Bend boat ramp to dam)

Prohibited methods: gigs and spears downstream of Horseshoe Bend boat ramp. Speargunning is legal when used with scuba, except taking flathead catfish from June 15 through July 15 is prohibited.

Tenkiller Report

May 27. Elevation is 1 ft. above normal (stable), water temperature 76°F and murky. (USACE Lake Level)

Bass, Largemouth, Bass, Spotted Fair on crankbaits, plastic baits, spinnerbaits, topwater lures around coves, creek channels, shorelines.

Catfish, Blue, Catfish, Channel, Catfish, Flathead Good on chicken liver, cut bait, shad around channels, main lake, river channel.

Bass, White Fair on Alabama rigs, crankbaits, small lures around flats, main lake, river channel.

Comments: The black bass bite is best in the early morning and late evening and really slows down into the morning and throughout the day. If you can find the shad schooling up in the coves at daylight, that has been the best bite lately. Anglers after catfish have been having some success along the river and creek channels using jug lines or rod and reel.

Report submitted by Cody Youngblood (Game Warden Cherokee County)