As warmer weather approaches, seasonal recreation begins anew. A popular activity in Oklahoma that offers generally low stress and low buy-in is fishing. There are over 200 different bodies of water to cast your line, all of which are documented on the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation (ODWC) website. 

“[Website visitors] are able to filter their location according to region, or they can search by specific lake or river name,” says Heather Gaylord, a communication and education specialist at ODWC. 

Paying a fee for a fishing license in Oklahoma is common, but doing some research ahead of time is never a bad idea. 

“Some municipalities charge an access fee or have a separate fishing permit in addition to a state fishing license,” says Gaylord. “OK State Parks may also charge for access to waters within the park. My best advice is to consult their websites or call to find out what they require before you visit.” 

Regardless, you’ll want to carry the licenses with you when fishing.

Once you’re out on the water, you should try to keep some sustainable practices in mind. Make sure to always follow the ODWC fishing rules and regulations at all public bodies of water, and only harvest what you can utilize in a reasonable amount of time. 

“Catching the limit just to boast is wasteful,” says Gaylord. “Catching and killing just to brag is also wasteful. Take a picture and release it unharmed.” 

Don’t forget to leave your campsite, dock or fishing pier better than you found it. 

“Places will close down and disappear if we don’t take care of them. We are all stewards of the environment around us and the future depends on us,” says Gaylord.

When fishing, consider sustainable practices like catch and release, as well as common courtesy behaviors like leaving your dock cleaner than you found it.
Photos courtesy Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation

Although there are plenty of different fish throughout the state, there are a few you’ll see more often than others. 

“The most prevalent fish in Oklahoma are bass (largemouth, smallmouth, striped and hybrid), crappie (black and white), catfish (blue and channel), and trout,” says Gaylord.

And if you want the best chance at catching them, you’ve got two time options. 

“Generally, the best time to catch fish is first thing in the morning, or in the evening, thirty minutes before dark,” says Gaylord. “However, fish are not always predictable.” 

Lastly, fishing advice for your first time or your hundredth can make the process easier and a bit more fun. Make sure to use lures appropriate for the time of year. Always check your boat for lifejackets, charged batteries, fuel, fishing licenses and other essential items. Never throw trash in the water and always pay attention to the weather. Most importantly, however, is remembering to be safe.

“Get out there, take a buddy and have fun!” says Gaylord. 

Close to Home 

If you don’t have the time or means to venture to a faraway lake, ODWC also runs a program called Close to Home, offering access at 46 locations around Oklahoma.

“These are small lakes or ponds that are located in more urban areas that have been cleaned up and stocked and are a convenient way for people just to get out on the water and be able to fish,” says Gaylord.

Through agreements with multiple municipalities, Close to Home offers fishing access in areas ranging from Bartlesville to Harrah,  Tulsa, Moore, Enid and Oklahoma City. For a full listing of Close to Home fishing locations, visit

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