The arrival of cooler weather might prompt many fishermen to store away their rods and reels until next spring. But don’t be so quick — plenty of exciting angling can be found throughout the winter months in Oklahoma’s designated trout fishing areas.
The Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation operates two year-round trout fisheries in the Lower Mountain Fork River below Broken Bow dam and in the Lower Illinois River below Tenkiller Ferry Dam. Trout are normally stocked in those areas every week or two. However, stocking in the Lower Illinois River has been temporarily suspended due to high water temperatures. Stocking will resume when water quality returns to a level suitable for sustaining a healthy trout population.
The Wildlife Department has six other designated trout fishing areas where trout stocking season will begin Nov. 1. Those areas are Perry CCC/Lake Perry Park, Robbers Cave, Blue River, Lake Watonga, Medicine Creek and Lake Carl Etling. To view a trout stocking summary for each area, go to wildlifedepartment.com and search for “trout stocking.”
Trout, both rainbows and browns, are introduced species to Oklahoma. They thrive in colder waters and make excellent table fare. Using ultralight fishing gear with 4- to 6-pound test line and small hooks can lead to some thrilling action. For other tips, go to wildlifedepartment.com and search for “trout in Oklahoma.”
Trout fishing is also available from Dec. 1 to Feb. 28 at two Close to Home Fishing locations in major urban areas: Oklahoma City’s Dolese Youth Park Pond and Jenks’ Veterans Pond.
The Wildlife Department’s winter trout fishing areas are:
- Blue River: This river flows through the Blue River Public Fishing and Hunting Area near Tishomingo. Trout stocking season runs Nov. 1 to March 31. From Tishomingo, go 4 miles east on State Highway 78 and then 6 miles north. Bank access and wade fishing is available throughout the area. Primitive camping is allowed at the Blue River campground.
- Robbers Cave: In Robbers Cave State Park, the Robbers Cave trout fishery is in the Fourche Maline River directly below Carlton Dam to the south boundary of the park. Trout stocking season runs Nov. 1 to March 15. From Wilburton, go 5 miles north on State Highway 2. Bank access and wade fishing is available anywhere within state park boundaries. Camping facilities and cabins are available at the park.
- Lake Watonga: This 55-acre lake is in Roman Nose State Park. Trout stocking season runs Nov. 1 to March 31. From Watonga, go 7 miles north on State Highway 8A. Bank access and a boat ramp are on the west side of the lake. Camping and lodging are available at the park.
- Perry CCC/Lake Perry Park: This 32-acre lake was built in the mid-1930s and offers ample bank access and a boat ramp on the west side of the lake. From Perry, go a mile south on State Highway 86. Lodging is available in Perry. This lake replaces Lake Pawhuska as a designated trout fishery.
- Lake Carl Etling: This lake is at Black Mesa State Park in Cimarron County. Trout stocking season runs Nov. 1 to April 30. From Boise City, go 28 miles west on U.S. 325. Boat ramps are on the south and east sides of the lake. Primitive and developed camping facilities are available at the park.
- Medicine Creek: This trout fishery runs through the town of Medicine Park from the Gondola Lake Dam on the north to the State Highway 49 bridge on the south. Access is easy from a sidewalk along the creek’s east side. Trout stocking season runs from Nov. 1 to March 15. Camping and lodging are available nearby.
Trout fishing regulations, including daily and size limits, restricted areas and maps, can be found in the 2015-16 “Oklahoma Fishing” regulations guide online at wildlifedepartment.com or in print where fishing and hunting licenses are sold.