Skip to main content

March's Madness Brings the Best Big-Bass Fishing

‘Nothing But Net' — Why now is the time to chase record largemouths in Oklahoma.

March's Madness Brings the Best Big-Bass Fishing

Dale Miller’s current state-record largemouth bass weighed 14 pounds, 13.7 ounces, caught March 13, 2013. (Photo courtesy of ODWC).

For many Americans, the start of the calendar's third month brings visions of the annual NCAA basketball craziness that sees a rash of stunning upsets, powerhouse performances and the eventual coronation of college basketball's champions.

But March’s madness also includes fishing for big bass. This year’s Bassmasters Classic is a March event (March 6) is being held on one of the South's best big-bass fisheries (Lake Guntersville), so expect some craziness there. And, March is when bass anglers in many parts of the country see some of the best bass fishing of the year as largemouths move shallow for the springtime spawn. You'll likely see more articles on trophy bass in this space this spring.

In Oklahoma, March also means a great chance to catch a record largemouth.

Fifteen of the state's top 20 largemouth bass have been caught in March. And two other top-20 bass were caught in the final two days of February.


While on the subject of Oklahoma’s biggest largemouth bass, do keep in mind that the Sooner State's top 20 list kept by the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation is such an exclusive fishing club that it takes a 13-pound, 8-ounce giant for an angler to even join.


The top 20 is led by Dale Miller's 14-pound, 13.7-ounce state record largemouth caught on March 13, 2013, at Cedar Lake. Gary Cox's near-record 14-13 lunker last spring at Broken Bow Lake came on March 29.

Keep in mind Miller isn't alone in his March state-record success. A total of five fish caught in March have enjoyed time as Oklahoma's top bass since 1990.

Former Oklahoma state-record largemouths caught by anglers in March include Benny Williams, Jr.'s 14-pound, 12.3-ounce bass (caught at Cedar Lake on March 23, 2012); William Cross' 14-11 bass (March 14, 1999 at Broken Bow Lake); Roger Hockersmith's 14–10 bass (March 25, 1993 at Mountain Lake); and Paul Tasker's 13–8 trophy (March 22, 1990 at Lake Fuqua).

OKBass
Jeremy Cole’s huge 14-pounder was caught from a Bryan County farm pond in March 2018. (Photo courtesy of Jeremy Cole)

Clearly, if you harbor hopes to catch a state-record-sized largemouth bass in Oklahoma, the next several weeks demand you find time to get on the water.


The two most recent members of the top 20 were also caught in March. Back on March 3, 2018, Kevin Claypool landed a 14-2 giant from southern Oklahoma’s Lake Murray. And just six days later, on March 9, Jeremy Cole landed a 14-pound, 4.8-ounce specimen at a Bryan County farm pond.

Those two fish also illustrate another key point about big-bass fishing in Oklahoma in March – to have a crack at the real giants weighing north of 13 pounds, the state’s southern water bodies seem to offer the best odds of that happening.

In fact, all of the fish mentioned in this article came south of Interstate-40, the serpentine ribbon of concrete that divides the state in half east to west.


A deeper look at the top bass caught in March reveals seven of those 15 bass were caught during the month's first half; eight came the final two weeks.

Breaking the list down even further, four of those March giants were caught in Oklahoma farm ponds, three came from Broken Bow Lake, three were caught at Mountain Lake, two came from Cedar Lake, one came from Lake Murray, another hailed from Lake Fuqua, and one more was produced by an unknown water body.

There are several notable southern Oklahoma lakes missing in action when it comes to a March Madness top 20 bass list.

One of those water bodies is Lake of the Arbuckles, which despite having a top 20 bass (Allen Gifford’s 14-8 bass caught on Feb. 27, 2008), is absent from the March list.

Also missing is Sardis Lake, which despite having its own top 20 fish (Diane Baker’s 13-8 bass caught on Oct. 4, 1994), hasn't produced a March giant either.

And neither has McGee Creek Reservoir, although that seems like a distinct possibility given its big bass history and potential. Because despite having no current top 20 largemouth bass at all, the water body continues to crank out double-digit largemouths, as proven by guide Chuck Justice and his clients catching dozens of 10-plus-pound fish in recent years.

Another southern Oklahoma lake missing from the March Madness top 20 list is Lake Texoma, the border lake lying on the Texas/Oklahoma state line. While the big reservoir is better known for its famous striper-fishing action, Texoma has come fairly close to producing a top 20 largemouth bass in March. That near-miss came on March 3, 2012, when Royce Harlan caught a 12–6 lake-record largemouth during a JC Outdoors bass tournament.

The reasons for this southern Oklahoma big-bass mayhem likely stems from the fact that much of the state’s annual stocking of Florida-strain largemouths—upwards of 1 million fingerlings—comes in southern waters that typically provide the thermal profile necessary for trophy genetics to prosper.

And ditto for the presence—or actually, abundance—of threadfin shad, the cold-hating forage fish that proliferates in southern Oklahoma waters.

Do keep in mind that none of this southern Oklahoma big-bass talk is to say that great largemouths don’t come from other water bodies across the Sooner State, because every year they do.

After all, who can forget Oklahoma angling legend Edwin Evers’ final-day bag limit at Grand Lake in March 2016 as he pulled off a comeback for the ages and won the Bassmaster Classic with a final-day limit of 29-3.

In fact, Grand Lake o’ the Cherokees is arguably the Sooner State’s best overall bass lake, even if it hasn’t produced a top 20 bass in recent years that weighs more than 13 pounds. You won’t get much argument from Evers, who has one of fishing’s most coveted titles on his resume., thanks to the northeastern Oklahoma bass factory.

Other Oklahoma waters that join Grand on that list of quality bass lakes lying outside of the state’s southern counties includes Watonga in the northwestern part of the state, Lawtonka in the southwest, Sooner in the north-central part of the state, Tenkiller in the east-central portion, and Eucha in the northeast.

So, what's the bottom line from all this number-crunching and lake name-dropping when it comes to Oklahoma bass fishing action? Simply this: All across the Sooner State, and especially in the south closer to the Red River, the month of March represents Oklahoma's big-bass potential at its absolute finest.

And that's plenty of reason to ignore the hoops action on TV over the next few weeks, and to hook up the bass rig and head to a favorite Sooner State big-bass water.

Because with a little bit of angling luck, there just might be another giant bass waiting to pounce on a springtime lure as it leisurely wanders by.

And that will bring a whole new meaning to the phrase “Nothing but net!”

Get Your Fish On.

Plan your next fishing and boating adventure here.

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Recommended Articles

See More Recommendations

Popular Videos

Lew

Lew's Pro SP Skipping and Pitching SLP Reel

Bass Pro Tour angler Andy Montgomery shares his insight on the new Lew's Pro SP Skipping and Pitching SLP Reel.

Thomas and Thomas Contact II Fly Rod

Thomas and Thomas Contact II Fly Rod

Joe Goodspeed, rod designer at Thomas & Thomas, tells Fly Fisherman editor Ross Purnell about the six new models of Contact II fly rods, including a 10-foot 2-weight and a 10-foot 3-weight. Constructed from five types of premium carbon and fiberglass fibers bonded by a proprietary aerospace resin, these rods are stronger and yet capable of making, short, delicate casts.

Strike King KVD J-100 Jerkbait & KVD 1.5 Hard Knock

Strike King KVD J-100 Jerkbait & KVD 1.5 Hard Knock

Strike King introduces two, new exciting baits to their already stellar lineup this 2020: the KVD J-100 Jerkbait, and the KVD 1.5 Hard Knock. KVD sits down with In-Fisherman Associate Publisher Todd Ceisner to explain how these two baits are going to help catch you more fish.

Yo-Zuri

Yo-Zuri's 3DB Pencil Popper, 3DB Jerkbait 110 & 110 Deep

Bass pro Clent Davis gives the inside info on Yo-Zuri's new-for-ICAST lures.

See More Popular Videos

Trending Articles

Want to test the outer limits of your shooting skill? You'll need a cartridge that lives up to the expectations demanded at ranges up to and beyond 500, 600 or even 1,000 yards. Try these different loads until you find the one that thumps steel at long ranges consistently.10 Best Long-Range Rifle Cartridges Ever Made Ammo

10 Best Long-Range Rifle Cartridges Ever Made

David Hart - January 14, 2015

Want to test the outer limits of your shooting skill? You'll need a cartridge that lives up to...

We found 10 secret (and proven) catfish baits that have the staying power to attract catfish time after time.10 Secret Catfish Baits You Didn't Know About Catfish

10 Secret Catfish Baits You Didn't Know About

Anietra Hamper

We found 10 secret (and proven) catfish baits that have the staying power to attract catfish...

When it comes to fishing baits, you won't find a more unusual variety than the strange brews of smelly ingredients often used to catch catfish. How To Make Your Own Catfish Dough Bait Catfish

How To Make Your Own Catfish Dough Bait

Keith Sutton - August 04, 2015

When it comes to fishing baits, you won't find a more unusual variety than the strange brews...

Now's the time to finalize plans for the perfect deer season opener.10 Expert Deer Hunting Preparation Tips for Opening Day Whitetail

10 Expert Deer Hunting Preparation Tips for Opening Day

M.D. Johnson - August 26, 2020

Now's the time to finalize plans for the perfect deer season opener.

See More Trending Articles

More Bass

A quick look at offerings from SPRO for 2020-21.New from ICAST: Rattle Little John; Essential Series Baits & Lures

New from ICAST: Rattle Little John; Essential Series

Game & Fish Staff - July 13, 2020

A quick look at offerings from SPRO for 2020-21.

For the intrepid angler, a trip offers world-class smallmouth fishing and more than a little excitement.'New' Fishing Adventure on the New River Fishing

'New' Fishing Adventure on the New River

Bruce Ingram - August 07, 2020

For the intrepid angler, a trip offers world-class smallmouth fishing and more than a little...

As bass retreat from summer's warm weather it's time for 'football season.'Football Jig: Go Deep for Summer Bass Bass

Football Jig: Go Deep for Summer Bass

Mike Pehanich - July 13, 2020

As bass retreat from summer's warm weather it's time for 'football season.'

From striped bass to giant speckled trout and largemouths, these two southern destinations offer a variety of family fishing opportunities.Destinations: Fishing Fun in the Southern Sun Playbook

Destinations: Fishing Fun in the Southern Sun

John N. Felsher - July 24, 2020

From striped bass to giant speckled trout and largemouths, these two southern destinations...

See More Bass

Magazine Cover

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Digital Now Included!

SUBSCRIBE NOW

Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services

PREVIEW THIS MONTH'S ISSUE Arrow

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Phone Icon

Get Digital Access.

All Game & Fish subscribers now have digital access to their magazine content. This means you have the option to read your magazine on most popular phones and tablets.

To get started, click the link below to visit mymagnow.com and learn how to access your digital magazine.

Get Digital Access

Not a Subscriber?
Subscribe Now