There’s never been a better time for spring fishing in Oklahoma, so grab your favorite rod and reel and hit the water! Here are the places you won’t want to miss.
Largemouths, Farm Ponds
Blizzards and ice storms are still a possibility in Oklahoma in March, but typical March weather includes some mild and sunny days during which the bass in farm ponds get really aggressive in the sun-warmed shallows and can provide excellent springtime angling action.
A variety of lures can produce action. Typically it‚Äôs a little too early for plastic worms to be effective, but crankbaits, jigs and spinnerbaits can be good choices. My favorite lures for March pond bassin‚Äô are 1/8-ounce spinnerbaits or big Beetle Spin lures.
Carrying a small thermometer to test the water temperature can sometimes be a good way to tell the best areas to fish.
White Bass, Lake Headwaters
Most of Oklahoma‚Äôs large lakes contain sand bass, more widely known as white bass, and beginning in late March and continuing into April, legions of sand bass head upstream to the flowing creeks and rivers at the lakes‚Äô headwaters to spawn.
Tenkiller, Fort Gibson, Grand, Eufaula, Texoma, Hugo, Broken Bow, Kaw, Keystone ‚Ä¶ really just about any big lake in Oklahoma, as well as some of the smaller ones, have lots of springtime sand bass spawning action in the upper reaches.
Crankbaits may be the most widely used lures. Jigging spoons, which are used a lot during other times of the year for catching sandies, are typically less effective during the spawn. But jigs and a variety of spinners can produce a lot of action.
Farther up the rivers, the sand bass on their spawning runs may also run into smaller creeks. I recall catching dozens of sand bass each evening while fishing from the bank where Stillwater Creek runs into the Cimarron River many miles above Lake Keystone, and I‚Äôve caught lots of sand bass in creeks several miles above where those creeks empty into the Arkansas River, both upstream and downstream from Tulsa.
Bluegills, Municipal Lakes
Many Oklahoma towns have water supply reservoirs ranging from 5 or 6 acres up to a few hundred acres in size. Many of those lakes have relatively clear water and harbor abundant populations of bluegills, redears and green sunfish.
There are a few larger lakes, as well as numerous private-land watershed lakes, that also offer excellent sunfish action, but I‚Äôve had good luck plying the waters of medium to small municipal lakes to catch sunfish, especially around the full-moon periods of April, May and June when the bulk of the sunfish spawning activity takes place.
I‚Äôve caught them on fly tackle with nymphs and streamers and on spinning and spin-casting tackle with a variety of jigs, spinners and natural baits. But the best bait I know of for sacking up a lot of sunfish in a hurry is a cricket ‚ÄĒ the gray cricket sold in some bait shops.
Nightcrawlers, earthworms and grubworms also work, but crickets are often the best, if you can find a bait shop near you that supplies them.
I‚Äôve known a few anglers who raised their own crickets, keeping a cricket box in a garage or barn so that they‚Äôd have a ready supply for bluegill fishing.
Tulsa‚Äôs Lake Eucha is a pretty good sunfish lake. Stillwell‚Äôs city lake is also good, as is Sapulpa‚Äôs Pretty Water Lake. There are dozens of others, throughout the state, that also hold a lot of sunfish.
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MSRP: Pricing starts at $22,195.
The 186 VLO measures in at 18 feet 9 inches with an 89-inch beam. The boat is built on a fiberglass, foam-filled hull and weighs in at 1,450 pounds and can hold a payload of 1,320 pounds. Maximum room is devoted to rod and tackle storage and fishing deck. VLO comes with a cus-tom-built, single axle trailer with submersible lights, a swing jack and a swing-away tongue.
The YUMphibian creature bait has two small swimming arms at the top, a pair of longer curl tails at the end, and two big ‚Äúflappers‚ÄĚ at the mid-point. Pitch it, flip it, or work it deep. Customize by pinching off appendag-es to create less water disturbance for finicky or pressured fish. 4 1/2, 5 1/4 and 6 inches in 10 color options.
Suzuki‚Äôs two new four-stroke, two-cylinder portable outboards have a compression reduction system for easier starting. The 20hp tiller model weighs 97 pounds the eletric-start model weighs 106 pounds. Single overhead cam, four-valve engine with Suzuki‚Äôs Lean Burn Control and bat-tery-less electronic fuel injection. Built for running in skinny water, both motors come with five tilt pin positions and 15- or 20-inch shaft.
Shakespeare‚Äôs new Micro Series Combos provide lightweight actions and are suited perfectly for panfish. They come in spinning and spin-casting models with high-quality components and each is spooled with Stren monofilament.
Ranger Boat is introducing a line of aluminum boats called The Tourna-ment Series. There are three models:
‚ÄĘ RT 178 sports a 17-foot, 8-inch bass configuration.
‚ÄĘ RT 178C has a similar platform (17 feet, 8 inches) but designed for crap-pie and multispecies angling.
‚ÄĘ RT188, an 18-foot, 8-inch bass de-sign rated for 115 horsepower.
Rapala is hoping the new Scatter Rap Series lures and their ‚Äúevasive action‚ÄĚ will be as popular as the original ‚Äúwounded minnow‚ÄĚ style action that the company is famous for. The new lure has a ‚ÄúScatter Lip‚ÄĚ that creates an evasive, erratic, aggressive sweep-ing action. Ideal for multispecies gamefish, the Scatter Rap Series is available in 14-16 classic and new color patterns. Baits 5- to 9-feet deep.
YUM‚Äôs F2 MightEE Worm is 10 1/2-inches long, has an arrowhead shaped bulge toward the end and is made for big bass. Because the worm tapers to a smaller circumference before blow-ing back out to the bulge, the tail sec-tion wags back-and-forth in the water with each breath of current.
On-the-go anglers will find a lot to like in Plano‚Äôs new Flex ‚ÄėN Go Tack-le Satchel. It features adjustable built-in storage with a deep bin on one side and framework for the pair of swap-pable Plano 3600 StowAway boxes on the other, each Stowaway held with a flexible strap.
Honda Marine‚Äôs BF250 outboard is a 24-valve 3.6-liter V6 that uses varia-ble valve timing and lift electronic control (VTEC). Programmed fuel injection delivers the precise amount of fuel and air to each cylinder for easy starts and instant throttle re-sponse. 20-, 25- and 30-inch shaft models.
MSRP, $18.95 per pair.
The original Gear Grabbar is a unique way to hold lures and tools at the ready in boats. But the new Lure Hangar is a step beyond. This is a 12- by 16 1/2-inch plate,m ade to mount on your gunwhale, that holds 16 or more lures. There‚Äôs enough room for a selection of jig, plugs, topwaters or whatever other baits you want to hang.
Triton‚Äôs 21 TrX measures 21 feet and features a 95-inch beam. The bow has a 20 percent larger fishing area than last year‚Äôs model. A bow panel is ready for flush-mount electronics up to 12 inches, and has an organizer for pliers and baits. Stows 24 rods in the bow, 10 more in the center locker and another 14 in the port side. tri-tonboats.com.
MSRP,Package of 12 Juice Worms $3.49.
Designed by Boyd Duckett, the new Havoc Juice Worm gives anglers more action which produces more strikes than any other worms on the market. The slim ribbed 8-inch body has a long, flexible ribbon tail that produces a unique swimming action. 20 colors.
G-Loomis‚ÄôJig and Worms Serie GLX rods offer sensitivity to feel the bite and the power to control the fish. GLX models feature Fuji Titanium SIC guides, along with a new proprie-tary reel seat and split-grip handle configurations.
Crestliner‚Äôs VT19 has a .100 gauge aluminum hull, is 19 feet long with a 91-inch beam. Rated for 150 horse-power and has a top speed of 60 mph. 1,085 pounds and a maximum pay-load of 1,300 pounds. An elevated starboard console has a windscreen, switch panel, gauges and in-dash Lowrance depth finder. 30-gallon aerated livewell. Motor Guide trolling motor.
If you wade when you fish, Fish-N-Hunt Pro Gear designed a Tackle Tote Vest that to keep gear accessible but dry when you‚Äôre standing in deeper waters. It‚Äôs adjustable, sturdy, has lots of pockets and a modest pricetag.
MSRP, Jacket $249.99-$269;
Cabela‚Äôs Guidewear raingear now comes in four distinct series. Bass Angler (pictured) jackets and bibs are built with the tournament bass angler in mind. Xtreme parkas and bibs will help anglers fishing Northern lakes and rivers. Tidal jackets and pants offer lightweight, waterproof and breathable protection. River Runner jackets are perfect for wading anglers.
MSRP, $18,178-$22,950, no motor, trailer.
Carolina Skiff‚Äôs DLV Series is an unsinkable, all-fiberglass, modified-V hull designed for offshore or shallow-water fishing. The series has five siz-es, from the 17-foot DLV 178 with a 90-horsepower outboard to the 25-foot DLV 258 that powers up with a 200hp. High-speed bilge pump, cush-ion seat set, built-in cooler and plenty of storage.
Abu Garcia‚Äôs Revo SX baitcasting reel is now 25 percent lighter than before. The SX frame is crafted of a strong alloy while the handle sideplate are built with weight-reducing C6 carbon. Holds 145 yards of 12-pound mono.
Anglers who use jar baits know it‚Äôs a pain to carry more than a few. Berk-ley now has two Jar Bait Folders to keep the baits at hand and make them easy to transport. Model 1170 holds 10 jars. Model 1490 holds 16. Both have various pockets and a D-ring for pliers.
Berkley says they‚Äôve improved a classic. New Trilene XL lines are now 10 percent stronger 20 percent more flexibility then they had been. Knot strength has also improved, said the company. Trilene XL has been around since 1972.