Oklahomans looking to experience something new with the family this summer may want to give fishing a try. A great time for that will be Saturday and Sunday during Oklahoma’s Free Fishing Days, which allow people to fish without state fishing licenses or permits.
“Free Fishing Days gives people a chance to just test the waters and see if they would enjoy the sport,” said Ken Cunningham, Assistant Chief of Fisheries for the Wildlife Department. “We are confident they will.”
If you are planning a trip to Quartz Mountain this weekend and want to possibly catch a fish, it is recommended that you fish the river (North Fork of the Red River) rather than Lake Altus-Lugert. The lake is still in the early recovery stages from the devastating Golden Algae fish kill of 2013. Fish did survive and ODWC has stocked some fish. However, fish are very few and very far between. Fish the river below the dam and above the low water crossing if you want to have a chance at catching fish. ODWC has stocked the river with catfish. The most recent reports were of catfish being caught near the base of the dam. This is accessible on the north side of the river, by a trail from picnic shelter.
Northeast Regional Fisheries Supervisor Josh Johnston, said that Zebco had donated prizes for tagged fish that will be put into Mohawk, Veterans, and LaFortune Parks in Tulsa.
Urban areas across the state offer angling opportunities through the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation’s Close to Home Fishing program, which provides quality fishing opportunities without a long drive from home. Anglers also have access to public lakes, rivers, streams and ponds across the state.
People who just don’t know where to start can turn to the “Where to Fish” map found in the Wildlife Department’s “Oklahoma Fishing” regulations guide, available online at wildlifedepartment.com or where fishing licenses are sold.
Anglers may also sign up to receive the weekly Oklahoma Fishing Report.
Compiled by Wildlife Department personnel and independent reporters, the report reveals inside information on the best places to go fishing, when the fish are biting and what baits they are hitting the most.
Anglers can also have the fishing report e-mailed to them by subscribing at wildlifedepartment.com/fishing/fishrpt.htm.
Participants in Free Fishing Days should note that certain city permits may still apply to specific fishing areas. Also, all of Lake Texoma is open for free fishing on Saturday but will only apply to the Oklahoma portion of the lake on Sunday.
Oklahoma was the first state in the nation to offer Free Fishing Days about 30 years ago and has since been followed by dozens of other states. While fishing is free on those days, anglers still must abide by all other fishing regulations including daily bag limits and size restrictions.
The website for Oklahoma Kids Fishing provides the following tips to making the first few outings a success with the youngsters:
• Keep it simple;
• Begin by fishing for panfish (bluegill, perch, sunfish) or catfish. Success is more important than species;
• Make it a short trip to a nearby body of water;
• Pack a fun lunch and make it part of the experience;
• Take time to throw rocks or sticks in the water along the way. Kids love that;
• Use simple bait and tackle;
• Focus your praise on participation rather than catching;
• Share the beauty of the outdoors with them during this time;
• Be ready to quit when they are done;
• Set a good example for conservation and preserving our fisheries;
• Teach them “Catch and Release” when appropriate.