Oklahomans are flocking to the state’s rivers, streams, lakes and ponds to try their luck at catching fish.
Sport fishing is enjoying a surge of popularity this year, says Skylar St. Yves, information and education specialist and fishing coordinator for the State Department of Wildlife Conservation. Oklahoma has great fishing spots throughout the state, he says, which include huge reservoirs such as Grand Lake, Lake Texoma, Lake Eufaula, Lake Murray, Arcadia Lake and Lake Tenkiller, along with rivers, creeks, smaller lakes and farm ponds.
St. Yves says fishing activity was at its height from mid-March into May, when the weather was relatively cool.
“Not only were there lots of people out there fishing; they were having success,” he says. “Success drives you back.”
Richard Minyard, an El Reno resident, is the president of Oklahoma Bass Nation, which organizes bass tournaments throughout Oklahoma.
“The lakes have been absolutely packed,” he says. “People are definitely taking advantage of the outdoors, some just sitting on the bank of a river or pond by themselves, maintain a safe distance from anyone else.”
St. Yves says that anyone interested in learning to fish can check out the department’s website – wildlifedepartment.com – which is chock full of relevant and helpful information for beginners. It also has details, updated monthly, specific to the pandemic, and a complete list of fishing guide services throughout the state.
He recommends starting with the basics, including a standard, medium-sized rod with a worm, hook and bobber. Oklahoma fishing licenses cost $25 annually for anyone over 17, and can be obtained online, at sporting goods stores, bait shops or at the Wildlife Conservation Department’s Oklahoma City office. A $25 license for seniors 65 and over is good for life.
Minyard says newcomers should plan to go fishing with a friend or someone who has fished before. Using a fishing guide is also helpful, he says, as finding the right equipment is a challenge.
“There are so many varieties of fish, and everything is tailored to what you’re fishing for,” he says.
Scott Hood, a Tulsa resident, has been a fly fisherman for about 20 years. He suggests that anyone interested in learning should reach out to a fishing organization, such as the Tulsa chapter of Trout Unlimited.
Hood says that for him, fly fishing is a great stress reliever in addition to offering some of Oklahoma’s most beautiful scenery. When he fishes, he says, he can forget about the pressures of life and enjoy an Oklahoma sunrise.
There’s an old saying among fly fishermen, he says: “Trout don’t live in ugly places.”
For more information on fishing licenses, tips and tricks, call the department at 405-990-9743 or email St. Yves at [email protected]. Tulsa Trout Unlimited meets on the second Thursday of each month, except for June-August, at the Hardesty Public Library, and visitors are welcome. Visit tu420.com for more information.