Oklahoma anglers are blessed with a plethora of angling choices to fuel their favorite pastime. It’s true: Our state is blessed with so many fisheries that sometimes the hardest decisions an angler has to make is which fish to target and where to go catch it!
Well, I’ve got good news. After polling some of the state’s top fishing experts, I have their suggestions on the top fishing picks and destinations for each month of the year. No need to wonder any longer; here’s where the action is heating up near you.
Largemouth Bass – McGee Creek
Lunker bass aficionado Chuck Justice says McGee Creek is one of the best big-bass lakes in Oklahoma. In fact, this true big-bass expert has caught numerous largemouths weighing 10 pounds or better there, and many of them were caught during the winter months. This savvy angler’s familiarity with this southeast hotspot’s bass lets him know just where to find and catch them at this time of year.
“The big bass will be found in deep water in small confined areas,” says Justice. “I catch most of my big fish on a 6-inch soft-plastic jerkbait, Gene Larew shaky head worm, or on a Justice jig.”
One of Justice’s favorite January techniques is to locate bass near ledges in deep water and use a shaky head worm. Justice cautioned anglers to be patient and let their baits get to the target depth before working them slowly. Anglers pitching jigs should target brushy areas. Best bait colors include pumpkinseed, motor oil, black/blue, and June bug.
Hybrid Bass – Sooner Lake
Sooner Lake, a 5,000-acre warm-water lake owned and operated by Oklahoma Gas and Electric Company, is in the northern part of our state, near the town of Perry.
Sooner is smaller than most hybrid lakes, but don’t let the size fool you. Actually, Sooner was the original stocking point for hybrids in our state, and has produced several state records in the past.
The northeast corner of the lake can be very productive when the generators are pumping. The lake contains numerous points and islands that can yield very serviceable fishing as well.
Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation Fisheries Supervisor Gene Gilliland recommends that artificial bait enthusiasts try jigging shad-colored slabs and spoons in the deepwater areas.
Bank-fishermen can enjoy success fishing the warm-water discharge area at the northwest end of the lake. To reach this coveted area, anglers should park in a special parking area beside Highway 177 near the lake. They get to the discharge area by making a mile-and-a-quarter trek — but at the end of that well-worn path is some fantastic fishing.
Best bait choices are large YUM Fat Money Minnows in pearl and pearl/chartreuse, spoons, and live shad.
Smallmouth Bass – Lake Murray
Pro angler Jeff Kriet is an expert on Lake Murray, and that’s no surprise; the successful bass pro grew up fishing the clear Ardmore lake. Kriet worked as a guide there, and now spends a significant amount of time plying its waters. He regards it as an excellent lake in March, a month during which he’s caught some of his largest bass. “Murray is infested with smallmouth bass,” he said. “I have caught several there over 6 pounds.”
Kriet’s favorite tactic in March involves fishing a Jewel Bait Company 5/16-ounce Eakins jig in green pumpkin color, to which he attaches a plastic trailer. “This bait is deadly on Murray,” Kriet asserted. “The lake is absolutely full of 1- to 2-pound smallmouth bass. You can literally catch and release 50 or more a day.”
Kriet noted that the lake has some huge smallmouths and advised anglers to try the Three Fingers area, Marietta Landing, and the Quarter Mile Dock area.
Kriet prefers to use relatively light line in the 10- to 12-pound-test range, and to cast jig-and-pig combinations in waters 15 feet deep or less.
Largemouth Bass – Arbuckle Lake
Arbuckle Lake is a beautiful clearwater lake nestled in the Arbuckle Mountains, just north of Ardmore. The lake is becoming popular with anglers after a big bass.
Mark Jefferys operates The Basszone (www.basszone.com), one of the Internet’s unique bass fishing resource sites, and rates the fishery as a fantastic spot.
“Arbuckle is a great place to catch a giant bass in April,” he opined. “It’s nothing to catch a 6- to 7-pound bass there, and I know of several 10-pounders that have been caught there as well.”
Jefferys gets enthused when he mentions the lake’s newly grown hydrilla, an aquatic plant known to be a favorite spot for big bass to hide while they wait to ambush prey. “This vegetation is not coontail moss or any other kind of underwater plant,” he exclaimed. “It is hydrilla!” This savvy bass angler knows when you find hydrilla, you have the right habitat to catch a heavy stringer.
Best baits are football jigs like Booyah’s in Molting Craw color, YUM Dinger shaky head worms in green pumpkin, and crankbaits like the XCalibur One Knocker in Foxy Shad color.
Hybrid Bass – Waurika Lake
Waurika Lake is located 20 miles south of the town of Duncan in south central Oklahoma. The lake is 10,100 acres of both open-water areas and heavy timber. Though Waurika offers some tremendous fishing opportunities, it is an especially fantastic spot for taking hybrid bass.
The popular bait for hybrids is live shad. However, many times the fish swallow the bait and can’t be released. Due to the high mortality rate associated with live bait, lake expert Frankie Phelps suggests anglers use artificial lures so that more fish can be released unharmed.
Phelps says it’s not uncommon to catch Waurika hybrids in the 5- to 12-pound range; he has taken a 16-pounder there.
Phelps points to the main body of the lake down to the lower end as a good area to find hybrids. He recommends using bass gear with 15-pound line. His favorite bait is a 4-inch Sassy Shad in pearl or chartreuse.
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