June Wildlife report

Good fishing is being reported at almost every lake across the state according to this week’s fishing report from the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation, and anglers in the know will be taking advantage of this good fishing for the next several weeks.

Since sportsmen can find a popular fish biting at almost any destination they choose, biologists with the Wildlife Department are reminding anglers to take precautions against the spread of aquatic nuisance species (ANS) when traveling from lake to lake.

 ANS in Oklahoma include zebra mussels, didymo, white perch, golden alga, and hydrilla, among others. Whether a mussel, fish, microscopic organism or vegetation, ANS are a threat because of their potential to disrupt the balance of state fisheries. Since they are invasive and often non-native, they may have few natural predators, reproduce and spread rapidly, and may compete with native species for available forage and habitat.

“An ANS can be any organism that threatens our native waters, not just fish or plants,” said Curtis Tackett, aquatic nuisance species biologist for the Wildlife Department. “They are often unknowingly transported by man — usually boaters and anglers — to a new location, where they thrive and cause problems for native habitat or native aquatic species.”

Oklahoma’s most widespread ANS is the zebra mussel. Though not much bigger than a thumbnail, these striped aquatic invaders can live for several days out of water and can be dispersed overland by boats pulled on trailers, though their main method of spread is by free-floating larvae. Zebra mussels can multiply rapidly to the point of clogging water treatment plant intake pipes, fouling boat bottoms and possibly depleting food sources relied on by fish and other aquatic species.

Another ANS recently documented in Oklahoma where it was not formerly known is Didymosphenia geminata, or “didymo.” Discovered in Lower Mountain Fork River below Broken Bow Lake, the invasive algae thrives in low-nutrient, cold flowing streams that are rich in oxygen. Though it starts out as small tufted colonies, it can grow into dense, thick mats that cover large portions of a streambed, outcompeting native algae relied upon by native insects.

“That may not sound like a problem, except that those insects provide an important source of food for trout in the Lower Mountain Fork River,” Tackett said.

Tackett said that in some cases, the reduction of available food sources for trout because of competition from invasive species like didymo can result in smaller fish. Additionally, didymo can clog water pipes and other flow structures as well as become a nuisance to anglers because of how easily it can be snagged by a fishhook.

To stop the spread of aquatic nuisance species and their possible economic and environmental consequences, the Wildlife Department depends on anglers’ support and help.

According to Tackett, anglers can help prevent further spread of ANS, and it just takes a little bit of effort.

“But that effort can go a long way,” Tackett said.

Tackett offers the following measures to prevent the spread of aquatic nuisance species:

* Drain the bilge water, live wells and bait buckets before leaving.
* Inspect the boat and trailer immediately upon leaving the water.
* Scrape off any zebra mussels or aquatic vegetation found. Do not return them to the water.
* Wash boat parts and accessories that contact the water using hot water (at least 140 degrees F.), or spray with high-pressure water.
* If possible, dry the boat and trailer for at least a week before entering another waterway.
* Before leaving a river or stream, remove all clumps of algae and look for hidden fragments.
* Soak and scrub all gear for at least one minute in a two percent bleach solution, or five percent salt solution, or simply use hot water and dishwashing soap.
* If cleaning is not practical, then wait at least 48 hours before contact with another water body after equipment has dried.
* Consider keeping two sets of wading boots, and alternate their use between cleaning and drying.
* Avoid using felt-soled waders.
* Avoid wading through colonies of the algae. Breaking up the material could cause future colonies and blooms to occur further downstream.



6: The Oklahoma Wildlife Conservation Commission Meeting. Meetings are held monthly at the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation Building (auditorium), 1801 N. Lincoln, Oklahoma City, at 9 a.m.
11: State Youth Hunter Education Challenge at Oklahoma City Gun Club, OKC. Registration deadline is June 4. Cost is $25. To register go to http://www.yhec.org.
11: Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation Southeast Oklahoma Chapter Big Game Banquet. For more information contact Richard Quaid at (580) 916-5987 or to purchase tickets https://events.rmef.org

11: U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary Flotilla 16-06, with operations based in Oklahoma City, will conduct a free, one-day training program designed to appeal to anglers, personal water craft operators, hunters and paddle boaters. Boat Oklahoma is a six-chapter course that gives safety guidelines for hunting, fishing, water-skiing and river boating. The course covers topics such as current boating laws and the environment; safety equipment (both required and optional); how to safely handle a boat on the water; aids to navigation; correct navigation rules; boating problems that may arise; trailering, storing and protecting your boat. It will be offered at Redlands Community College, main building room 110 (1300 South Country Club Road, El Reno) from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. The Auxiliary will provide the material for the program. For more information or to register contact Linda Sadler at (405) 286-9167.
11: National Wild Turkey Federation Women in the Outdoors Event at Deep Fork National Wildlife Refuge. Events are taught by expert instructors and a variety of classes are offered including fishing, hunting, outdoor cooking, crafts and so much more! For more information or to register contact Lori Jones at (918) 752-7255 or lori_jones@fws.gov <mailto:lori_jones@fws.gov> .
18: Annual North American Butterfly Association Butterfly Count at Byron Hatchery Watchable Wildlife Area Nature Center from 9 a.m. – 3 p.m. For more information about these events email mhickman@zoo.odwc.state.ok.us or (405) 990-4977. Bring a sack lunch. Drinks and cookies are provided.
18: The River Country Chapter of Ducks Unlimited will be hosting our annual Waterfowl Hunters Party and Gumbo Cook-Off at the Creek County Fairgrounds. This year we will be raffling off over 500 decoys, guns, waders, and other miscellaneous waterfowl hunting gear. All raffle tickets will be made available for purchase at the event. Tickets are only $25 for adults, $15 for kids ages 6-15 and children 5 and under are free. Tickets include dinner and beverages. Event starts at 6 p.m. For more information or tickets contact Clint Pollard at (918) 504-8004.
25: The Robert L. Hutchins Chapter of Ducks Unlimited in Lawton will hold their 39th annual banquet on June 25th at the Great Plains Coliseum, 920 S. Sheridan Road. Doors will open at 6 p.m. The banquet will feature a catered BBQ dinner, large silent and live auctions, and numerous raffle tables. Tickets and more information can be found at the Ducks Unlimited web site (www.du.org) or by contacting John Anderson at (580) 429-8274.
25: Sixth Annual Oklahoma Dept of Wildlife Conservation Step Shoot at the Tulsa Gun Club; North Mingo Rd & E. Mohawk Blvd, Tulsa. Event is sponsored by the Tulsa Bird Dog Club and will take place from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Features of the event include shotgun clay target shooting, the Oklahoma Bow Council, 22 rifle range, BB gun range for children, and a “Cowboy Action Town.” Event is free to the public and all equipment is provided. No personal firearms allowed. Lunch provided by Tulsa Bird Dog Club. For more information, log on to tulsabirddogclub.org.