Why Lake Texoma is Oklahoma’s Best Fishing Hole
What is the best fishing lake in the state?
Grand Lake O’ the Cherokees in northeast Oklahoma would get a lot of votes, especially from bass anglers. It is considered by many to be the best bass fishing lake in the state and hosts more major bass tournaments than any other lake in Oklahoma.
But the crappie and bass fishing is also good and it has become a major destination for anglers around the world to catch paddlefish. Trophy blue cats are captured in winter.
In the southeast corner of the state, an argument could be made for Broken Bow Lake. It’s great bass fishing and anglers can fish for trout year-round below the Lower Mountain Fork River Dam.
It’s also one of the best places to fish for walleye in Oklahoma. A fisherman recently sent me a picture of an alleged 14 pound walleye that was caught under the re-regulation dam on the river. It would have been a state record walleye if state wildlife officials had been contacted, but the fisherman wanted to release the fish and feared it might die.
In the middle, between these two fishing holes is Lake Eufaula, the undisputed king of crappie lakes in Oklahoma. Eufaula can also be a good lake for bass fishing and is excellent for catfishing.
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A vote for Texoma
However, my vote for best fishing lake in the state goes to Lake Texoma. Striped bass fishing on Texoma is well known, but the lake is also a big bass fishery, especially for smallmouth bass. Texoma has hosted its share of major bass tournaments. Anglers have been fishing on the shoals in recent weeks as fish have moved closer to shore to spawn. Many have moved to deeper water, but fishing is still good around brush piles and boat docks.
Catfishing can be great too, with channels, flatheads and blues on Texoma.
“There is a large population of catfish,” said Lake Texoma guide John Pryor. “Good sauce, you can just catch the catfish. From May and June, in particular, they will start to move much shallower and think about spawning.”
Larger catfish, however, are caught in rivers, Pryor said. Catfishing usually improves in late May as the fish move into shallow water.
This year, Texoma also has one of its best sand bass populations in years, he said.
“Over the last three years or so, I’ve noticed an increasing influx of sandies,” said Pryor, who has been guiding on the lake for more than 40 years.
And for non-game species, the Red River system on Texoma is the best place in the state to catch an alligator gar, though it’s closed during May to protect spawning grounds.
As my late friend and outdoor TV host Don Wallace once told me, “You can always catch something on Texoma.”
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The magical month of May
For all of Texoma’s great fishing offerings, striped bass fishing eclipses all of that. Thousands of anglers travel to Texoma each year to hunt stripers.
Pryor’s customers come primarily from Oklahoma, Texas, Kansas and Nebraska. He has groups from Kansas and Nebraska booked over the next two weeks.
May and June are its two busiest months of the year for guided trips.
May is a magical time on Texoma. Shads spawn and the top water bite, the most fun way to catch stripers, lights up.
Stripers will chase schools of shad on the surface, and catching stripers while casting with artificial lures can be fantastic, especially early in the morning.
“When they (shad) go into spawning mode, it’s an awesome sight to see when a shoal of spawning threadfin passes by,” said Matt Mauck, south-central fisheries supervisor for the Department of Conservation. Oklahoma wildlife.
Anglers will attach swim bait or other artificial lures and preferably go to the windward side of the lake and cast surface lures around shad beds when spawning in shallow water.
“A lot of times the strippers or the sandbars are hot on their heels,” Mauck said.
Says Pryor: “You have a lot of chases and they explode (on the surface).”
Now many guides are fishing the open sea early in the morning and using live bait later in the day as stripers congregate around ledges, Mauck said. Stripers have been very easy to catch on bait right now, he said.
As the weather warms into summer, the action shifts from shore to open water as stripers form huge schools scouring the lake for shad.
“There are great (fishing) opportunities throughout the summer,” Mauck said.
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‘One of the best fishing lakes’
Lake Texoma was created in 1944 by the impoundment of the Red River. The lake is said to attract six million visitors a year.
Striped bass were first stocked in Lake Texoma by the Wildlife Department in 1965 and fish found it to their liking, reproducing naturally. Stripers were first documented in 1973 to breed in Lake Texoma. It happened again in 1975 and every year since.
Texoma is one of approximately 10 reservoirs in the United States where stripers are able to breed naturally. In April and May they come up the Red and the Washita in large numbers to spawn.
“It’s a great time of year for all species,” Mauck said. “Although striped bass is king because that’s what the majority of people are looking for, there are a lot of options out there. And all of those options are pretty good. You have trophy blue cats, trophies at small mouth Crappie population is really good and growing fast.
“I always say there are a lot of great fishing lakes, but Lake Texoma is one of the best fishing lakes.”
Journalist Ed Godfrey is looking for stories that impact your life. Whether it’s news, outdoors, sports – you name it, it wants to report it. Do you have a story idea? Reach him at [email protected] or on Twitter @EdGodfrey. Support his work and that of other Oklahoman journalists by purchasing a digital subscription today.