There is no better way to make family memories this spring than an afternoon of fishing. Oklahoma is blessed with a tremendous number of lakes, ponds and creeks that can provide some great family fishing, and with the rain we received this week, hopefully the fishing action will begin to heat up.
The fishing is really picking up right now all across the state, according to the latest fishing report by the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation. The best thing is that you don’t have to travel to one the big reservoirs to find fish, often some of the best fishing can be found on smaller bodies of water such as municipal lakes or Wildlife Department lakes.
Those looking for more family fishing fun may want to wet a line in one of the following lakes.
Elmer Thomas Park – Lake Helen – The Oklahoma Department of Wildlife used Sport Fish Restoration funding to, along with the City of Lawton, completely revamp this little city fishing hole. Installing jetties and fishing piers, the facilities are very family friendly. And if the fish are not biting, there are ducks, geese and other wildlife to watch.
Lake Elmer Thomas – LETRA – Not to be confused with the afore mentioned lake, Elmer Thomas lake is a beautiful lake set in the Wichita Mountains. Lying half on the Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge and half on Ft. Sill, the lake provides some of the most scenic fishing opportunities in the state. The Ft. Sill side – Lake Elmer Thomas Recreation Area (LETRA) not only has some great fishing, but has a beach, mini golf and paddle boats.
Quanah Parker Lake – Located across from the Wichita Mountains Refuge Visitor Center, this beautiful lake has great sunfish and bass fishing. A box of worms is all you need to get your kids hooked on catching sunfish. If they get bored, then head over the visitor center to learn the history of the Refuge.
Lake Lawtonka – Just off of Hwy 49, 20 minutes north of Lawton, this city owned lake not only is one of the most scenic lakes in this part of the state, but it offers great fishing. With beaches, jetties and camping areas, it is the perfect location to take the family for the weekend. City permits are required, so check with the City of Lawton before your trip.
Lake Ellsworth – Also owned by the city of Lawton, this lake just a little further north of the city is better known for its fishing than its sister lake. With low water conditions right now, finding good fishing locations might prove difficult. But with great populations of catfish, crappie and sunfish, it might be worth the drive to give it a try. As with Lawtonka, city permits are required.
Refuge Lakes – We mentioned Elmer Thomas and Quanah Parker by name, but the Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge has lots of other smaller lakes that provide some excellent fishing and great scenery. Most are stocked with catfish and contain great populations of native fish. Pick up a map at the Refuge entrance to find locations and other restrictions.
No matter where you choose to go, fishing with family and friends can be a great way to spend an evening or weekend. It is fun and relaxing and allows everyone the opportunity to connect with each other. Many lakes are located in the most scenic areas the state has to offer.
If you are planning a trip, be sure to get a copy of the “Oklahoma Fishing Guide.” The regulations, as well as additional fishing information, are also available on the Department’s Web site at www.wildlifedepartment.com.
Mushrooms in season
Lack of rain affects Oklahoma wildlife, and although not a member of the fauna, there is a fungi that, with a little moisture, should provide some really good frying pan fair, morel mushrooms.
With some much needed rain morels should start popping up everywhere. Areas that have received some moisture, have seen a good start to the season.
Believe it or not, there is a Facebook page dedicated to hunting Morels in Oklahoma, and its members have reported mixed results so far this year. Moisture is key for the fungi to grow, and, especially in Western Oklahoma, moisture has been lacking so far this year. But with recent rain, look for the activity to really pick up.
With their cream colored sponge looking head, morel mushrooms cannot be confused with any other wild mushroom, so there is very little chance in getting the wrong species. But care should be taken, especially for first time mushroom hunters, do a little research to make absolutely sure that you know what you are looking for.
Once you find a mess of mushrooms, soak them overnight in water to loosen any sand or grit that might have been inside the folds of the fungus. Slice the mushrooms into strips or rings and dredge in seasoned corn meal and pan fry in oil.
If you are really lucky, just maybe you can mix a mess of crappie filets in with the mushroom and have one of the finest meals spring in Oklahoma has to offer.
Southwest Fishing Report
Altus-Lugert – 24ft. below normal, water 63 and stained. No fishing activity reported.
Ellsworth – 3ft. below normal, water 55 and murky. White bass good on crankbaits, small lures, spinnerbaits around main lake, rocks, shorelines. Crappie fair on jigs, minnows around brush structure, docks, rocks. Catfish fair on chicken liver, punch bait, shad around main lake, points. Sand bass fair on crankbaits, small lures around rocks and shorelines.
Fort Cobb – 5ft. below normal, water 64 and stained. Hybrids good on flukes around the dam.
Lawtonka – 3ft. below normal, water 56 and clear. Crappie fair on jigs, minnows around brush, docks, rocks. White bass fair on crankbaits, small lures, spinnerbaits around points, rocks, shorelines.
Tom Steed – 6ft. below normal, water 56 and murky. Crappie slow on jigs, minnows around brush structure, coves, rocks. Catfish good on punch bait, stinkbait around flats. White bass fair on crankbaits, minnows around points on main lake.
Waurika – 3ft. below normal, water 66 and murky. White bass and hybrids good on flukes around dam and points. Crappie fair on jigs, minnows around brush structure, points, riprap. Catfish fair on chicken liver, cut bait around main lake.