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Why the Oklahoma Wildlife Department is Changing Bass Fishing Rules

Oklahoma’s new fishing regulations, which will allow black bass anglers to keep smaller fish but limit the harvesting of larger fish, will take effect Sept. 11.

It’s a shift in bass management strategy that the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation has practiced for nearly 40 years, moving from a catch-and-release philosophy to encouraging the capture and conservation of small bass.

The new rule will remove the statewide 14-inch minimum length limit on lakes and allow anglers to keep only one black bass per day over 16 inches. State fisheries biologists say the new regulations are intended to motivate anglers to keep and eat small bass to improve the overall health of bass populations in the lakes.

Black bass are largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, and spotted bass. There is already no minimum length limit for spotted bass to encourage harvesting of these fish.

In the 1970s and 1980s, the catch-and-release mindset promoted by the bass tournament industry took the bass fishing world by storm. It eventually became “kind of a taboo about keeping a bass,” said Josh Johnston, northeast fisheries supervisor for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation.

“We’ve gone from keeping pretty much all the bass we catch to almost releasing just about all the bass we catch,” Johnston said.

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The result was that bass populations in Oklahoma lakes are dominated by fish measuring 14 inches or less in length, Johnston said. All the little fish competing for a limited food supply has resulted in extremely poor bass growth in many Oklahoma lakes, he said.

By asking anglers to remove more smaller bass from the lakes, the hope is that there will be more food sources for fewer fish and this will improve the growth rate of bass.

“All this (the 14-inch minimum length limit) does is increase competition at smaller sizes, which can lead to slow growth or, in some very severe cases, stunted growth. fish that have stopped growing),” Johnston said. “Resources have to be plentiful enough for the fish to do well. A minimum length limit just isn’t helpful to us.”

Almost all Oklahoma lakes had a 14-inch minimum length limit for the past 30 to 40 years, Johnston said. It eventually became statewide regulations for all lakes except those with time slot limits, he said.

The new rule will still allow a daily limit of six bass, but only one can be over 16 inches in length. The new regulations exclude rivers and streams, Lake Texoma (since it is partly under Texas control), and Lake Doc Hollis in the Sandy Sanders Wildlife Management Area.

Bass tournaments can get an exception to the rule, which will allow tournament anglers to own more than one bass over 16 inches as long as the fish is alive and released after weighing.

Tournament directors must obtain a tournament exception for all participating anglers through the Go Outdoors app or The Bass Tournament Director is responsible for distributing Exemption Permits to tournament anglers.

Any bass tournament that takes place on and after September 11 will need an exemption for its participants to keep more than one fish over 16 inches.

Tournament byes will be issued no earlier than two weeks prior to the tournament date. One-day and multi-day exemptions are available for bass tournaments.

Each separate tournament will require an exemption permit. Weekly Series Jackpot events will require a permit for each week.

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Teals are the first ducks to migrate through Oklahoma in September, heading to their wintering grounds.

The teal and geese season is about to open

The September teal hunting season in Oklahoma will open on September 10 and run through September 25 statewide. The daily limit is six.

The blue-winged teal and green-winged teal typically migrate through Oklahoma much earlier than many other ducks, so waterfowl have the opportunity to hunt birds before regular duck seasons open.

Duck season in the Panhandle opens Oct. 8. Duck season will open Nov. 12 in the rest of the state.

The state’s resident Canada goose season will also open Sept. 10 and run through Sept. 19 statewide. The daily limit is eight.

Drawings for the duck blinds on the Eufaula, Fort Gibson, WD Mayo and Webbers Falls reservoirs will take place Sept. 17 at the Department of Wildlife office in Porter. All waterfowl enthusiasts are asked to pre-register for their lake of choice at, but on-site registration will be permitted.

The blind draw on Fort Gibson Lake will begin at 7:30 a.m., followed by the Lake Eufaula drawing at 9:30 a.m. The Webbers Falls draw will begin at 11:30 a.m. and the spot draw on WD Mayo Lake near Spiro will have place at 1 p.m. Registration and registration begins 30 minutes before each draw.

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Jones' Tom Friedemann holds a carp he caught with a fly rod.  Friedemann recently wrote a second book of his fishing memoirs.

Fisher Jones writes a second book

A fisherman Jones has written his second fishing book.

In 2020 Tom Friedemann posted “If It Was Easy They’d Call It Catchin”. The book was based on the 74-year-old fisherman’s fishing diary that he kept all his life.

He caught his first fish in 1957, when he was 9 years old, and he has been hooking ever since.

Throughout his life, Friedemann kept a record of every fish he caught, the day it was caught, where it was caught, how it was caught, as well as bait and equipment used to catch it. He even logged the weather and water conditions every time.

Today, Friedemann released a second memoir, Bent Poles, Happy Souls: Fishing Stories Gleaned from Sixty Years of Journaling.

“It was much easier,” Friedemann said of writing the second book. “The second book, what I really wanted to do was expand on what people stereotypically think about fly fishing. That was my goal.

“Everyone thinks fly fishing is either for bluegill or trout. I wanted to get into carp, catfish, crappie and bass. A lot of people think we can’t catch bass with a fly rod.”

Friedemann is the former CEO and Superintendent of the Francis Tuttle Technology Center.

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