MARCH 2005 NEWS RELEASES 

WEEK OF MARCH 31, 2005

WEEK OF MARCH 24, 2005

WEEK OF MARCH 17, 2005

WEEK OF MARCH 10, 2005

WEEK OF MARCH 3, 2005

Public input sought for wildlife plan

The Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation has released the latest draft of Oklahoma’s Comprehensive Wildlife Conservation Strategy. Planners are now looking forward to input from the public at a series of statewide meetings to be held April 4-8.

The Strategy, which is being created by the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation in collaboration with wildlife stakeholders, addresses the needs of fish and wildlife species in the state that are rare or declining. It will use a habitat approach rather than a species-by-species management approach. All 50 states are creating similar Strategies such that, when fit together like a puzzle, will show the current state of America’s wildlife and identify the actions needed to keep fish and wildlife populations healthy.

A wide variety of stakeholders have provided information for Oklahoma’s Strategy, including technical experts from federal and state agencies, conservation organizations, landowners, sportsmen and others interested in wildlife conservation. This draft is the next step in the development of the Strategy.

Hunters, anglers and boaters have traditionally funded the majority of fish and wildlife conservation. This funding has not been enough to address the needs of all 800 plus wildlife species in Oklahoma. The same case exists nationwide, and state fish and wildlife agencies have been working for 20 years to fill this funding gap. This Strategy is a component of the new federal State Wildlife Grants Program - the nation’s core program for keeping America’s wildlife populations healthy.

This second draft review period is a vitally important step - and opportunity - in the process of preparing Oklahoma’s Strategy. Anyone with an interest in wildlife in Oklahoma is encouraged to review the draft and provide their comments either in person or through e-mail by April 15.

Draft Strategy chapters can be downloaded from the planning contractor’s Web site in PDF format: http://www.dynamicsolutionsgroup.com/OK/. Those with comments should use the form provided and send e-mail to bruce.h@dynamicsolutionsgroup.com.

Individuals can also make their comments in person at the following meetings. All meetings will run from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.


April 4 – Oklahoma City
Metro Tech Spring Lake Campus -1900 Springlake Drive

April 5 – Woodward
City of Woodward building, Pioneer Room,1219 8th Street

April 6 – Lawton
Cameron University, Band Room, 2800 West Gore Boulevard

April 7 – McAlester
Kiamichi Vocational Technical Center-South Conference Room, 301 Kiamichi Drive

April 8 – Tulsa
OSU -Tulsa Campus – North Hall Room 151, 700 N . Greenwood Ave

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Bass Anglers - Don’t Procrastinate

Forget spring cleaning, now is the time for spring fishing - especially if you want to catch a lunker largemouth bass. With the warming water temperatures and lengthening days, the next few weeks offer anglers a prime chance at fish worth bragging about.

“I have been hearing very positive angler reports from all corners of the state,” said Gene Gilliland, senior fisheries biologist with the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation. “In fact, I just heard of an 11-pound bass that was caught at Broken Bow Lake at a recent tournament,”

According to Gilliland, the time to go fishing is any time there is even a slight warming trend in water temperatures.

“Just a few degrees one way or the other can make a big difference when it comes to early spring bass fishing. The difference between 48 degree and 50 degree water temperature may not seem like much to you and me, but apparently it makes a big difference to a bass,” Gilliland said.

There are a wide variety of lures that will catch big bass this time of year, but Gilliland said there are two standbys.

“Both jigs and suspending jerk baits are great choices for the early spring, but the best thing is to get out there and try different lures until you find what works best,” Gilliland said.

If you’re still a bit hesitant about braving the gusty spring winds, just take a look at the record books. The months of March and April have produced 15 of the top 20 largemouth bass in the state.

For more information about bass fishing in Oklahoma, log on to wildlifedepartment.com and pick up a copy of the “2005 Oklahoma Fishing Guide.”

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Check line 34 to share with wildlife

Share with wildlife by making a refund donation to the Wildlife Diversity Program when you pay your state taxes this year. It’s a two-step process.

Just mark line, then go to schedule 511-H to complete your donation.

The state tax check-off is an easy and important way for Oklahomans to show they care about wildlife, said Ron Suttles, natural resources coordinator for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation.

For the past 19 years, the Wildlife Diversity Program has relied on the support of Oklahomans who donate a portion of their tax refund.

By sharing your refund, you help protect our state’s biological diversity, Suttles said.

The Program funds and performs surveys of rare and endangered species like the Texas horned lizard, or horny toad, and declining species in the High Plains of western Oklahoma. It monitors the state’s largest Mexican free-tailed bat colony and is working with partners to aid approximately 400 species of songbirds, waterfowl, shorebirds and water birds.

The Program helps people connect with wildlife through the Winter Bird Survey, Eagle Watches and the Selman Bat Watch. It produces a variety of wildlife-related brochures and guides like the Landscaping for Wildlife book and helps establish new places and opportunities for the public to enjoy wildlife.

To help fund activities like these, make a refund donation on line 34 from line 1 of schedule 511-H of your state tax form this year, or have your tax preparer do so for you. For questions regarding your donation to the Wildlife Diversity Program call the Oklahoma Tax Commission at (800) 522-8165, ext: 13160.

Direct donations can also be made to: Wildlife Diversity Program, Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation, P.O. Box 53465, OKC, OK 73152.

Another way to support the state’s wildlife and the Wildlife Diversity Program is to purchase a $35 Wildlife Conservation License Plate. Five wildlife designs are available at your local tag agent.

The Wildlife Department is funded by the sale of hunting and fishing licenses, federal excise taxes placed on hunting and fishing equipment and by private donations. The Department does not receive any general state tax appropriations.

Contact the Wildlife Diversity Program at (405) 521-4616 for more information about any of these activities or products, or visit the Department's Web site at www.wildlifedepartment.com

 

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Shotgun training education program receives boost from conservation organizations

The Poteau Chapter of Ducks Unlimited and the LeFlore County Longbeards Chapter of the National Wild Turkey Federation have joined together with the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation to promote shotgun training in southeast Oklahoma.

At their recent meeting, the Oklahoma Wildlife Conservation Commission accepted a series of donations from the groups including a 12’x7’ cargo trailer, two trap throwers, five shotguns and 22 cases of steel shot ammunition. The estimated value of the donation is $14,000.        

The Commission also accepted the donation of a clay thrower and trailer from the Northwest Oklahoma Chapter of Quail Unlimited. The 12’x6’ cargo trailer and 250-clay-capacity trap thrower have a combined value of $8,000 and will be used to promote shotgun training in northwest Oklahoma.

The donations will both support the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation's Shotgun Training and Education (STEP). The program, designed for all skill levels, offers seminars for shooters to learn more about shotgun shooting. Approximately 7,500 people attended more that 105 STEP events held last year. The STEP seminars are offered free of charge for groups of 25 or more people.

With the new donations, the Department now has eight STEP trailers across the state, as well as many certified STEP instructors. Guns, ammunition and targets are provided through the program. There is a different seminar for every skill level whether you have never picked up a gun before or you are a skilled shooter. Since all the classes use non-toxic shot, waterfowl hunters can improve their wing shooting by attending one of the seminars.

In other business, the Commission accepted a donation of $2,000 from the Oklahoma Striper Association. The funds will be used to purchase striped bass hybrids that will be used for a research project. These donations will be matched with federal Sportfish Restoration funds for a total project budget of $8,000.

The donations will fund a special reciprocal striped bass hybrid stocking at Kaw Lake near Ponca City. Reciprocal striped bass hybrids are a cross between a male striped bass and a female white bass, opposite of a typical striped bass hybrid. Initial studies in other states have indicated that these reciprocal hybrids stay in the lake they are stocked in longer and do not have the same propensity to travel downstream after flood events as the conventional striped bass hybrids. Fisheries biologists will be tracking the movements of these reciprocal hybrids in Kaw Lake.

The Oklahoma Striper Association has been a longstanding supporter of the Wildlife Department’s efforts to improve fishing in the state. Recent donations include a truck-mounted water tank used to haul striper brood stock from the lake to the hatchery where their eggs can be gathered and cultivated in hatchery ponds. A large disk used to work the ground of dry hatchery ponds, plankton nets and a dissolved oxygen meter to monitor water quality have also been donated by the Association for use at Department hatcheries.

In other business, Assistant Director Richard Hatcher provided the Commission with an update of the 2005 Oklahoma Wildlife Expo.

“With the support and hard work of 140 Department volunteers, as well as many other outside volunteers and sponsors, the Expo is really coming together. We think this is going to be the premier education event in the state,” Hatcher said.

The inaugural Oklahoma Wildlife Expo, with more than 100 different booths and activities already confirmed, will offer something for everyone. The free, two-day event will be held August 27 and 28 at the Lazy E Arena just north of Oklahoma City between Edmond and Guthrie.

According to Hatcher, participants will have the opportunity to try their hand at dozens of hunting, fishing and outdoor recreation activities. For example, those attending Expo will be able to shoot a shotgun, taste wild game, attend a dog-training seminar, or even climb a 24-foot rock wall.

The Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation is partnering with a wide range of other state agencies, private individuals and outdoor-related companies to host the monumental event, which is designed to promote and perpetuate Oklahomans appreciation of the state’s wildlife and natural resources.

For more information about the Oklahoma Wildlife Expo or to learn more about sponsorship opportunities, call (405) 522-6279.

In other business, Rich Fuller, information supervisor for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation, was recognized as the Oklahoma Bowhunting Council Wildlife Professional of the Year.

“Rich has been an important supporter of bowhunters across the state and it is an honor to recognize him today,” said Rob Ray, with the Oklahoma Bowhunting Council.

Also at the March meeting, Jay Harvey, state game warden stationed in Choctaw and Bryan counties was recognized as the National Wild Turkey Federation Oklahoma game warden of the year.

“Jay has proven to be an outstanding representative for the state and we are proud to honor him as the game warden of the year,” said Chuck Townsend, Oklahoma president of the National Wild Turkey Federation.

Also at their March meeting, Commissioners recognized Wendell Smalling, state game warden stationed in Choctaw County, for his 30 years of service to the Department and to the sportsmen of the state.

“During Wendell’s tenure, he has seen the deer and turkey populations grow tremendously in Choctaw County and he has been a great representative for the Department every step of the way,” said Greg Duffy, director of the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation.

In other business, the Commission voted to approve rules regarding commercial hunt areas. The new rules would add record, signage and recapture requirements for commercial hunt operators.

The Commission also approved a rule that would exclude 1.9 miles of the Lower Mountain Fork River from “Designated Trout Stream” status and remove the trout license requirement. The special fishing restrictions that currently apply to the Lower Mountain Fork River trout area would remain in effect, though.

Commissioners met in executive session and upon returning to open session, the Commission voted to authorize legal counsel to resolve an ownership issue regarding property in Marshall County, obtain appraisal of the property and authorize the Director to execute legal documents.

The Wildlife Conservation Commission is the eight-member governing board of the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation. The Wildlife Commission establishes state hunting and fishing regulations, sets policy for the Wildlife Department, and indirectly oversees all state fish and wildlife conservation activities. Commission members are appointed by the Governor and confirmed by the Senate.

The next scheduled Commission meeting is April 4 at the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation headquarters (auditorium), at the southwest corner of 18th and North Lincoln, Oklahoma City at 9:00 a.m.

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Smallmouth bass action heating up – and that’s not all

Start thinking of excuses now, because you are going to want to get out of work soon to take advantage of the great fishing across the state.

“The fishing is beginning to pick up right now and over the next few weeks it should just get better, especially if the weather cooperates,” said Kim Erickson, fisheries chief for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation.

If you don’t believe Erickson, just ask Kenny Wythe and Todd Hollies. The duo recently caught four smallmouth bass with a total weight of 23.71 pounds to win a recent bass tournament at Lake Eufaula. It was one of the largest stringers of smallmouth ever weighed in at a tournament in Oklahoma, but it did not even include the big fish of the tournament. Jeff Belote caught a smallmouth bass tipping the scales at 6.77 pounds.

Erickson added that anglers also have good opportunities to hook a smallmouth bass at Texoma, Skiatook, Murray and Lawtonka lakes.

But smallmouths certainly are not the only fish biting in early spring. Anglers are reporting that crappie are beginning to move to structure closer to the bank in prelude to the annual spawn.

“Once the water temperature hits the upper 50s, crappie will begin moving into shallow water to spawn. If you can time it right, there is no better time to go crappie fishing,” Erickson said.

While many anglers are watching the thermometer, others are watching the rain gauge.

“Several popular fish such as white bass and paddlefish move up rivers and creeks to spawn. These movements are often triggered by a rainfall event in early spring,” Erickson said.

No matter what species you like to fish for the most, the important thing is make the time to go – and take a new angler with you while you’re at it. You can follow the latest fishing reports at wildlifedepartment.com and for complete regulations pick up a copy of the “2005 Oklahoma Fishing Guide.”

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Last chance to submit photos to “Outdoor Oklahoma” magazine

Time is running out to submit your photos for “Outdoor Oklahoma’s” magazine is annual Readers' Photography Showcase. Hopeful photographers have until March 31 to submit their best shots.

The special issue offers a great chance for photographers, either professional or amateur, to display their color slides, prints or digital photos in a magazine that consistently receives national recognition for its photographic excellence.

"Whether you like taking pictures of scenics, wildlife or people, our state offers plenty of opportunities for the outdoor photographer," said Nels Rodefeld, “Outdoor Oklahoma” editor. "We’re looking for a wide variety of shots, but we especially enjoy those images of hunters and anglers in the field."

According to Rodefeld, 35mm slides, color prints, and digital images will be accepted. Rodefeld added that original 35mm slides still offer the best color reproduction quality, but that “Outdoor Oklahoma” will accept high-quality images captured on digital cameras or in print photos.

“The annual Readers' Photography Showcase is one of the most popular features in the magazine and it is one of my personal favorites as well. It seems like every year the pictures just get better,” he said.

The photographer's name, address and phone number need to be printed on each slide using a fine point pen or rubber stamp. Slides should not be encased in glass.

Each participant may submit up to five images and all entries will be returned undamaged. Each submission should include a brief description of the photo including location taken, camera used, names of subjects and what it took to get just the right shot.

Photographers can mail their submission to Paul Moore, Photo Editor, “Outdoor Oklahoma,” Oklahoma Dept. of Wildlife Conservation, P.O. Box 53465, Oklahoma City, OK 73152.

Individuals who wish to obtain their own copy of the July/August Readers Photo issue can subscribe to “Outdoor Oklahoma,” on the Universal License form wherever hunting and fishing licenses are sold; or via credit card by calling 1-800-777-0019. Subscriptions are just $10 for one year, $18 for two years, or $25 for three years. You can also subscribe over the Internet by logging on to the Department's web site at www.wildlifedepartment.com.

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It’s time to apply for controlled hunts

Hunters can now submit their applications for the “2005-2006 Controlled Hunts” over the Internet by logging onto http://www.wildlifedepartment.com. Not only can hunters save a stamp by applying online, they can also confirm that their application has been received as soon as they apply.

“When it comes right down to it, applying online is the way to go. It’s fast, it’s easy and the program will help ensure that you don’t make any mistakes on your application,” said Melinda Sturgess-Streich, chief of administration for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation.

In about two weeks, Controlled Hunts booklets will be available at hunting and fishing license dealers located throughout the state, as well as is in PDF format that can be printed off the Department’s Web site (wildlifedepartment.com). Applicants have until May 6, 2005, to turn in their applications.

Administered by the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation, the Controlled Hunts Program offers a wide variety of highly desirable hunts through a random drawing. Some hunts are held to provide high-quality hunting experiences on high-profile areas where it is necessary to regulate hunting pressure. Others are held to achieve management goals for certain species, and others are held to provide hunting experiences in areas where access is otherwise limited.

A $5 fee is required of all applicants including lifetime hunting or lifetime combination license holders. This fee is good for ALL 2005-2006 controlled hunt applications submitted by each sportsman. Since the fee is per person and not per application, hunters should decide to apply for all their hunt categories either by mail or online, but not both. Hunters who choose to mail in their applications must complete the processing fee payment form on page 24 of the controlled hunts booklet. Payment can be made by the following methods: cashier's check, money order, Visa or MasterCard.

For complete application instructions, including tips on enhancing your chances of being selected, log on to www.wildlifedepartment.com or consult the “2005-2006 Oklahoma Controlled Hunts” booklet.

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Turkey numbers on the rise

Turkey hunters have every reason to be optimistic when the spring season opens statewide April 6.

“We certainly have the birds now. All we need is for the weather to hold out,” said Jack Waymire, southeast region senior wildlife biologist for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation. “It seems like we get a big rain every year on opening day of turkey season, but maybe it will stay dry this year.”

Following several good production years, turkey numbers are way up across the eastern half of the state.

“I think we’ve got more turkeys right now than we have had in a long, long time in this state,” Waymire said.

According to Waymire, good numbers of turkeys can be found on several public hunting areas in southeast Oklahoma, particularly the walk-in turkey hunting areas on Pushmataha, Honobia and Three Rivers wildlife management areas.

“We are really seeing the positive effects of the work we have been doing with the help of the National Wild Turkey Federation (NWTF). The NWTF has funded many projects over the years including brush control and several prescribed burn projects this year,” Waymire said.

According to Waymire, the good news does not end there.

“The other encouraging news is that the sex and age class distribution is in good shape, meaning that there are balanced numbers of hens and toms representing all ages of birds,” Waymire said. “I would really encourage veteran hunters to be patient and wait for a mature tom. I know it can be hard to wait when a jake comes storming in, but it will be worth it when you set your sights on a really big tom.”

Turkey populations in the western half of the state are also doing well according to Rod Smith, southwest region wildlife supervisor for the Wildlife Department.

“Turkey numbers are in good shape across northwest and southwest Oklahoma. We generally saw a modest increase in most counties and any increase is always good,” Smith said.

According to Smith, winter flocks are beginning to break up into smaller groups and turkey hunters who spend time scouting will increase their odds of success on opening morning.

To hunt turkeys in Oklahoma, hunters must possess a resident or non-resident Oklahoma hunting license or combination license and the $5 fishing and hunting legacy permit, as well as a spring turkey permit. Lifetime license holders are exempt from having to purchase the spring turkey permit and the annual fishing and hunting legacy permit.

Hunters do not check turkeys taken west of I-35, but all turkeys harvested east of I-35 must be checked at the nearest hunter check station. For more information on regulations and bag limits, consult the “2004-05 Oklahoma Hunting Guide,” which are available at hunting and fishing license vendors across the state or on line at www.wildlifedepartment.com.

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Public meetings to discuss state wildlife plan

The Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation has released the latest draft of Oklahoma’s Comprehensive Wildlife Conservation Strategy. Planners are now looking forward to input from the public at a series of statewide meetings to be held April 4-8. The meetings will be co-hosted by a diverse group of partners including OG&E, Weyerhaeuser Inc., The Nature Conservancy, the Sierra Club and Cameron University.

The Strategy, which is being created by the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation in collaboration with wildlife stakeholders, addresses the needs of fish and wildlife species in the state that are rare or declining. It will use a habitat approach rather than a species-by-species management approach. All 50 states are creating similar Strategies such that, when fit together like a puzzle, will show the current state of America’s wildlife and identify the actions needed to keep fish and wildlife populations healthy.

A wide variety of stakeholders have provided information for Oklahoma’s Strategy, including technical experts from Federal and State agencies, conservation organizations, landowner, sportsmen and others interested in wildlife conservation. This draft is the next step in the development of the Strategy.

Hunters, anglers and boaters have traditionally funded the majority of fish and wildlife conservation. This funding has not been enough to address the needs of all 800 plus wildlife species in Oklahoma. The same case exists nationwide and state fish and wildlife agencies have been working for 20 years to fill this funding gap. This Strategy is a component of the new federal State Wildlife Grants Program - the nation’s core program for keeping America’s wildlife populations healthy.

This second draft review period is a vitally important step - and opportunity - in the process of preparing Oklahoma’s Strategy. Anyone with an interest in wildlife in Oklahoma is encouraged to review the draft and provide their comments either in person or through e-mail by April 15.

Draft Strategy chapters can be downloaded from the planning contractor’s Web site in PDF format: http://www.dynamicsolutionsgroup.com/OK/.

Individuals can also make their comments in person at the following meetings. All meetings will run from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.


April 4 – Oklahoma City
Metro Tech Spring Lake Campus -1900 Springlake Drive
Co-hosts: OG&E, Weyerhaeuser, Sierra Club

April 5 – Woodward
City of Woodward building, Pioneer Room, 1219 8th Street
Co-host: The Nature Conservancy

April 6 – Lawton
Cameron University, Band Room, 2800 West Gore Boulevard
Co-host: Cameron University

April 7 – McAlester
Kiamichi Vocational Technical Center-South Conference Room, 301 Kiamichi Drive

April 8 – Tulsa
OSU -Tulsa Campus – North Hall Room 151, 700 N. Greenwood Ave
Co-host: The Nature Conservancy

 

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Department accepting applications for youth wildlife camp

Kids who love the outdoors will want to turn in their application to attend the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation's Wildlife Youth Camp. Youth interested in wildlife, fisheries and law enforcement can have fun and learn a thing or two at the weeklong camp, which is conducted each year by wildlife professionals including game wardens and biologists.

“We have great time with the kids. It’s a good opportunity to learn what wildlife professionals do on a day to day to basis. And best of all - it’s entirely free,” said Jon Cunningham, camp coordinator and Oklahoma game warden stationed in Payne County.

Scheduled June 26 through July 1 at Camp McFadden near Ponca City, the camp is open to Oklahoma youths ages 14 to 16. Applicants must turn 14 prior to June 26, 2005. Participants will attend courses in firearms handling, wildlife law enforcement, wildlife and fisheries biology, water safety, self-defense, rifle and shotgun training, waterfowl hunting and archery.

The seventh annual youth wildlife camp is free of charge but will be limited to 35 participants. Applicants should be interested in fish and wildlife management or law enforcement and must submit a 75-word essay explaining why they want to attend the camp, why they believe they should be selected and what they expect to learn while attending. They must also submit a letter of recommendation from a person of their choice other than a family member.

The application deadline is April 29. To obtain applications, contact the Wildlife Department's Law Enforcement Division at P.O. Box 53465, Oklahoma City, OK 73152, or call (405) 521-3719. Applications may also be available from local wardens or from the Wildlife Department's Web site at www.wildlifedepartment.com. Simply print off the application, fill it out and mail it in with the essay and letter of recommendation.

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Hugo Lake number one – two years running

For the second year in a row, Hugo Lake can claim the title as the best bass fishery in the state according to a survey of bass tournaments. The southeast Oklahoma lake ranked Number One in the recently released 2004 Oklahoma Bass Tournaments Report.

Hugo Lake had the highest average winning weight and anglers took the fewest hours to catch a five-pound or larger bass, according to Gene Gilliland, senior fisheries biologist for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation.

“An effective water level management plan and a good reproduction year in 1998 are two of the biggest reasons why anglers fishing at Hugo have been so successful,” Gilliland said.

With an estimated 1,200 tournaments held each year in the state, tournament anglers are an important part of the Department’s fisheries management team. In the course of their pursuits, they provide biologists with hundreds of thousands of hours of fishing data every year.

Cooperating bass clubs submitted data from more than 637 tournaments from 55 lakes in 2004. Biologists analyzed the information and compiled an overall lake ranking based on five fishing quality factors. Hugo Lake took first place as the state’s best overall tournament lake, followed by lakes, Okemah, Greenleaf, Murray and Oologah.

“For the third year in a row, we saw an increase in the both the numbers and size of bass reported at tournaments,” Gilliland said. “Several years ago we experienced some slow fishing due to low water levels and the largemouth bass virus. The good news is that most of the lakes appear to be on the rebound now.”

Gilliland also points to good reproduction in 2001 and 2002 as another reason so many anglers reported “keeper” sized bass in 2004.

According to Gilliland the report would not have been possible without the cooperation of bass tournament organizations.

“In 2004 we received reports from 91 different organizations, but that is still only 65 percent of the permitted tournaments around the state” Gilliland said. “The more tournament feedback we receive the more information we have to make wise management decisions.”

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Guided turkey hunt offered for physically disabled youth

A private land turkey hunt for five physically disabled youth under 18 years of age is being offered this spring in Ellis County.  Applicants must have a permanent physical disability which significantly impairs mobility.  A responsible adult (at least 21 years of age) non-hunting partner will be required to accompany each youth to the hunt site.  A guide will be provided for assistance during the hunt. 

Hunt dates will be during the statewide turkey season on April 23-24 and any birds harvested will count towards the statewide bag limit.  Applications should be sent to: Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation, Southwest Region Office, 19333 State Highway 49, Lawton, OK 73507.  Application can be by letter or post card and should include the youth's name, address, date of birth, and telephone number, as well as the name of the non-hunting partner. 

Deadline for receiving applications is April 4, 2005. Successful applicants will be responsible for purchasing appropriate licenses before arriving at the hunt site.  For more information contact: Rod Smith, southwest region wildlife supervisor at (580) 529-2795.

 

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Smallmouth bass record tops eight pounds

         A Broken Arrow man caught an 8-pound, 1-ounce smallmouth bass March 29 on W.R Holway Lake in northeastern Oklahoma, establishing a new state record.

         Karl Council, who has fished the lake for more than 25 years, caught the new state record fish while fishing from a small jon boat around 1:30 p.m.

         “I was using a spinnerbait I had just purchased that morning and when the fish hit I knew it was a good one,” Council said.

         However, when Council heaved the big fish from the clear waters of the reservoir, known to locals as Chimney Rock or Pumpback Lake, he thought the fish was too short to be a state record. At 22.5 inches long it was shorter than the previous state record by almost an inch, but fortunately for Council, his fish was fatter. The previous smallmouth bass record of 7 pounds, 12 ounces was set by Aaron Fridrich who pulled the big smallie from Lake Texoma in March of 2003.

         “I am passionate about my fishing and I have always dreamed about catching a state record fish. I always thought this lake was capable of producing a state record smallmouth,” he said.

         Council was using a Browning Medallion Graphite fishing pole and a Pflueger reel spooled with 17-pound test line. He was fishing out of a small jon boat with an electric trolling motor.

         “I have a big bass boat and a bunch of fancy gear, but I enjoy fishing the Pumpback Lake because it is so remote and you can get away from all the crowds,” he said.

         Council donated the fish to the Oklahoma Aquarium in Jenks where it will be on display once it acclimates to its new surroundings.

                   W.R. Holway Lake, near Salina,  was first stocked with smallmouth bass in 1991 by the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation. The 750-acre reservoir is deep, clear and rocky — all of the prerequisites needed for a great smallmouth fishery.

         The Wildlife Department stocked the lake along with several other reservoirs around the state in the early 1990s with a reservoir-strain smallmouth bass that originated in Tennessee.  Oklahoma is now home to several outstanding smallmouth fisheries including Eufaula, Skiatook, Lawtonka and Broken Bow lakes.

         Cliff Sager, northeast region fisheries biologist for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation, witnessed the weighing of the fish at the Wildlife Department’s Porter office.     

         For a complete list of record fish and the procedures regarding certifying state record fish, consult the “2005 Oklahoma Fishing Guide.” If you think you may have hooked a record fish it is important that you weigh the fish on an Oklahoma State Department of Agriculture certified scale and the weight is verified by a Wildlife Department employee.

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   Cutline: Karl Council, a Broken Arrow man, caught an 8-pound, 1-ounce smallmouth bass March 29 on W.R Holway Lake in northeastern Oklahoma, establishing a new state record.

Wildlife Department and partners to co-host public meetings

            The Oklahoma Comprehensive Wildlife Conservation Strategy will be the focus of a series of statewide public meetings to be held April 4-8. The meetings will be co-hosted by a diverse group of partners including the Noble Foundation, OG&E, Weyerhaeuser Inc., The Nature Conservancy, the Sierra Club and Cameron University.

            “We are certainly looking forward to hearing everyone’s thoughts on this important strategy,” said Andrea Crews, responsive management specialist for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation. “This is a historic effort, because this type of comprehensive plan has never been done before in our state.”

            The Strategy, which is being created by the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation in collaboration with wildlife stakeholders, addresses the needs of fish and wildlife species in the state that are rare or declining.

            “This strategy is designed to answer three questions. What are the species and habitats in trouble?  Why are they in trouble?  Most importantly, what are we going to do about it,” Crews said.

It will use a habitat approach rather than a species-by-species management approach. All 50 states are creating similar Strategies such that, when fit together like a puzzle, will show the current state of America’s wildlife and identify the actions needed to keep fish and wildlife populations healthy.

“We want to keep common wildlife species common and work to prevent populations from being added to the endangered species list,” Crews said.

            A wide variety of stakeholders have provided information for Oklahoma’s Strategy, including technical experts from federal and state agencies, conservation organizations, landowner, sportsmen and others interested in wildlife conservation. This draft is the next step in the development of the Strategy.

            “We are hoping individuals will read the parts of the strategy that most interest them and offer their thoughts via e-mail or at the public meetings to be held across the state. The more input we have from a wide audience, the better plan we will be able to produce,” Crews said.

            Hunters, anglers and boaters have traditionally funded the majority of fish and wildlife conservation. This funding has not been enough to address the needs of all 800 plus wildlife species in Oklahoma. The same case exists nationwide, and state fish and wildlife agencies have been working for 20 years to fill this funding gap. This Strategy is a component of the new federal State Wildlife Grants Program - the nation’s core program for keeping America’s wildlife populations healthy.

            This second draft review period is a vitally important step - and opportunity - in the process of preparing Oklahoma’s Strategy. Anyone with an interest in wildlife in Oklahoma is encouraged to review the draft and provide their comments either in person or through e-mail by April 15.

Draft Strategy chapters can be downloaded from the planning contractor’s Web site in PDF format:   http://www.dynamicsolutionsgroup.com/OK/.  Those with comments should use the form provided and send email to  bruce.h@dynamicsolutionsgroup.com.

            Individuals can also make their comments in person at the following meetings. All meetings will run from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.


April 4 – Oklahoma City
Metro Tech Spring Lake Campus -1900 Springlake Drive
Meeting co-hosted by OG&E, Noble Foundation and Sierra Club.

April 5 – Woodward
City of Woodward building, Pioneer Room,1219 8th Street
Meeting co-hosted by The Nature Conservancy.

April 6 – Lawton
Cameron University, Band Room, 2800 West Gore Boulevard
Meeting co-hosted by Cameron University.

April 7 – McAlester
Kiamichi Vocational Technical Center-South Conference Room, 301 Kiamichi Drive
Meeting co-hosted by Weyerhaeuser.

April 8 – Tulsa
OSU-Tulsa Campus, North Hall Room 151, 700 N. Greenwood Ave.
Meeting co-hosted by The Nature Conservancy.

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 43-pound striper caught below Eufaula Dam

  Cutline: If you need any more motivation to take a fishing trip soon, take a look at Jason Farley’s 43-pound, 7-ounce striped bass. He caught the big fish using a Chummy Shad below the Eufaula Dam. His striper was just four pounds short of the state record set on the Illinois River in 1996. Fisheries biologists are reporting that good catches of striped bass as well as white bass are being caught at Lake Texoma and below Eufaula.

 Guided turkey hunt offered for physically disabled

A private land turkey hunt for five physically disabled youth under 18 years of age is being offered this spring in Ellis County. 

Hunt dates will be during the statewide turkey season on April 23-24 and any birds harvested will count towards the statewide bag limit.  Applications should be sent to: Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation, Southwest Region Office, 19333 State Highway 49, Lawton, OK 73507.  Application can be by letter or post card and should include the youth's name, address, date of birth, and telephone number, as well as the name of the non-hunting partner. 

Deadline for receiving applications is April 4, 2005. Successful applicants will be responsible for purchasing appropriate licenses before arriving at the hunt site.  For more information contact: Rod Smith, Southwest Region Supervisor, (580) 529-2795.
 

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 Training tomorrow’s hunters today

While hunting is a way of life for many Oklahomans, there are many young people who never experience the joys of a warm camp fire after a cold day in the woods, sitting silently next to dad as he rattles in a big buck, or just spending time with friends in the woods.

To help expose both youths and adults to the timeless thrills of hunting, the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation offers basic hunter safety and educational training instruction through its Hunter Education program. If you enjoy hunting and would like to share your knowledge with someone just getting started, this is your chance to become involved as a volunteer.

The Department is always looking for new instructors to assist with clinics. If you are 21 years or older and want to share your hunting skills with others, are concerned about the future of shooting sports, or just like to work with kids, you should call and reserve a spot at the Department’s volunteer training workshop. The workshop will be held April 16, from 9:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at H&H Gun Range in OKC. Pre-registration is required.

“Most hunters were introduced to hunting by an older family member or good friend who hunts,” said Lance Meek hunter education coordinator for the Wildlife Department. “Many of today’s youth aren’t exposed to the same opportunities we had, so it’s harder for them to take up a lifelong sport like hunting. If we don’t train young people when they are ready to learn about hunting we could lose them to the sport forever.”

Volunteer instructors are trained to coordinate and instruct hunter education courses and other educational events. A typical course consists of firearm and bow safety along with wildlife I.D. and management, hunter ethics and basic survival skills.  

 

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