Tahlequah Daily Press

May 20, 2013

Experts: Anglers can expect big catches

Staff Writer

TAHLEQUAH — During the summer months, some folks take to the lakes to zip around in boats or on JetSkis. Others prefer the quiet solitude of baiting a hook, dropping a line and hopefully catching some fish.

Fishing in local and area lakes and rivers has been reported as good. According to Tenkiller.com, Field and Stream has ranked the Illinois River and Lake Tenkiller as the 16th best fishing in the United States.

Anglers looking for largemouth and small-mouth bass, channel or flathead catfish, walleye, trout and various sunfishes should hook into something of their liking.

The most recent lake report noted the water temperature at an estimated 65 degrees with lake level 2 feet above normal at 636.02 feet as of May 17.

An Alabama rig and chrome/black/blue-colored rogues are said to be working right for largemouth bass, as are square-bill crank bait and spinner baits. Smallmouth bass are said to be good when trolling islands with crank baits. Crappie are said to be coming off the spawn and will be experiencing a more aggressive feeding trend, as they begin to school again in river channels migrating back to structure areas of choice.

“I just heard of some crappie being caught on the southern end [of the lake],” said Lake Tenkiller U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Chief Ranger Debbie Christie.

An employee with Cookson Bend Marina said the fishing for blue catfish, sand bass and trout has been reported as good by fishermen visiting the east bank marina and resort.

Larry Clark, who is a member of the Northeastern Oklahoma Fly Fishing Club, said the recent rainfall should make for improved fishing conditions on the Illinois River.

“I really think, for Memorial Day weekend, the fishing ought to be excellent. The river has had a good flushing,” he said. “The smallmouth fishing on the river ought to be great, and we’ve had pretty good sand bass fishing. They’ve had good fishing around Horseshoe Bend. Everybody said they caught lots of fish.”

Clark suggested fishing the bank areas on Lake Tenkiller if looking for catfish.

“As the lake comes up, that makes the cat fishing good, because the catfish like to roam around the bank areas where there hasn’t been any water. It’s kind of a fresh food area for them,” he said. “[Recommended bait is] just typical to what you’re fishing for.”

Clark added that anglers should have success with current conditions.

“The trout fishing been going really well. In March, they started stocking on a weekly basis, I believe, instead of every other week,” he said.

“I’ve got buddies that fish all around the area Greenleaf, Fort Gibson Lake and the Arkansas River, and all those areas are doing just really good right now.”

Fort Gibson Lake Corps of Engineers Chief Park Ranger Jonathan Polk said the sand bass fishing as good, while the cat fishing should start picking up.

He said the normal level of Fort Gibson Lake is 554 feet, and current conditions have the lake level at 555.96.

“We’re just about two feet above average,” he said. “This is usually when [the catfish] start spawning, and you can catch them around the bluffs. The sand bass ought to start coming into the shallows. They had been doing good below the dam.”

After the high water conditions, boaters need to remember to look for debris in the water.

“It’d be a good idea to keep a good look out for debris in the lake. Logs and stuff like that,” he said. “Make sure you have your lifejackets and keep the lifejackets on when possible. Be aware of your surroundings, and know what’s going on around you.”