Friday, November 30, 2007

Early Winter Fishing Heating Up

Early winter fishing is great right now according to biologists with the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation, and Oklahomans focused only on current hunting seasons are in danger of missing it.

Fall and early winter is an absolutely gorgeous time to go fishing,” said Gary Peterson, fisheries biologist for the Wildlife Department. “Once the bass tournaments are over and deer season begins, there are fewer people on the lakes and rivers. It is quieter without boats roaring by, and many fish species are more willing to bite. In northeast Oklahoma , the osprey fly in and go fishing with you, and sometimes eagles try to steal the osprey’s catch.”

Peterson noted that while some fish species prove more elusive in cooler temperatures, others are active and abundant. “Crappie actually are more active as the weather gets colder, and we’ve found some nice blue cats and channel catfish out there,” Peterson said.

Crappie, blue catfish and channel catfish aren’t the only catch awaiting winter anglers. “Right now is prime time for trout,” said James Vincent, senior fisheries biologist with the Department. “For streams and rivers in southern Oklahoma , this is our Monday Night Football game, and we’re getting ready to kick off.”

Vincent points out several advantages to fishing this time of year. “During the summer, trout areas often have diverse usage like swimming and boating, and trout are not as willing to bite,” Vincent said. “However, those other users are gone now. Our cooler weather has brought cooler water, making it ‘go’ time for trout fishing, especially in the Lower Illinois and the Lower Mountain Fork rivers.”

Trout are not the only fish to catch, however. “A few weeks of prime fall fishing for the native smallmouth bass still remain,” Vincent said.

Statistics from 2006 reveal that over 611,000 anglers fished in Oklahoma last year, but the vast majority of those anglers fished in spring and summer. Even though there are great hunting opportunities right now, fisheries biologists hope Oklahomans won’t forget about angling. With such great fishing abundant in the state, and so few anglers taking advantage of it, it may be time to grab a fishing pole and head for water in the coming weeks. “The fish are there,” Peterson said. “They are there, and they are available.”

Story courtesy of the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation

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