MARCH 2009 NEWS RELEASES 

WEEK OF MARCH 26, 2009

WEEK OF MARCH 19, 2009

WEEK OF MARCH 12, 2009

 

WEEK OF MARCH 5, 2009

 

Bear, antelope and elk seasons headline proposals
            The Oklahoma Wildlife Conservation Commission passed several hunting regulation rule changes at its March meeting, allowing the potential for new hunting opportunities for black bear, antelope and elk.
            The Commission approved one proposal to establish a black bear season in Latimer, LeFlore, McCurtain and Pushmataha counties in southeast Oklahoma. Though outlined details of the black bear season will not be brought before the Commission until its April meeting, the proposed bear season would open with deer archery season and run through deer muzzleloader season. Hunters will be required to report bear harvests, and the season quota will be limited to 20 bears. The use of dogs will be prohibited, and baiting would be prohibited on wildlife management areas. Legislation to establish a bear hunting license is pending and would need to be approved by the Legislature and signed into law by the Governor before the season can be implemented Oct. 1. If implemented, Oklahoma will be the 29th state to have a bear season.
            According to Alan Peoples, chief of wildlife for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation, the Department has collected more than 15 years of biological data and information from responding to nuisance bear calls. Additional research projects were conducted by the Oklahoma Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit with Oklahoma State University.
            “A growing population of black bears in Oklahoma is continuing to point to the state's vast wildlife diversity,” Peoples said. “We believe there are upwards of 400 bears in LeFlore County alone, and a limited bear harvest will create great new opportunities for hunters while helping to address nuisance bear issues in southeast Oklahoma.”
            The Commission approved another new opportunity for sportsmen in a proposal to open a 14-day September archery season for pronghorn antelope in Cimarron Co. and that portion of Texas Co. west of Hwy 136. Licenses would be sold over-the-counter, and landowner permission would be required.
            “Our population of pronghorn antelope in the panhandle is thriving, and we are looking forward to providing sportsmen yet another unique hunting opportunity,” Peoples said. According to Peoples, information gathered from biological data, aerial surveys and requests from landowners show that the Panhandle's antelope population can sustain the new archery season.
            Along with establishing a black bear season and antelope archery season, the Commission also approved an expansion of elk season that will increase opportunities for hunters while addressing agricultural depredation from elk. The approved change creates a private lands elk season in northeast Oklahoma, specifically in Sequoyah, Muskogee, Adair, Cherokee, Delaware and Mayes counties. Another approved change eliminates the requirement for providing written landowner permission and legal descriptions of land when purchasing an elk permit. Written landowner permission will still be required while hunting.
            Regarding upland game, one approved change will allow flexibility to adjust pheasant bag limits each year based on the population, allowing for improved pheasant management capabilities and increased hunting opportunities in years of high pheasant numbers.
            According to Peoples, research and data taken from annual spring and summer population surveys show some years are better than others for pheasant recruitment.
            “The option to adjust our pheasant season daily limit so it's consistent with the bird population each year will mean more opportunities for hunters following those years when bird numbers are high,” Peoples said.
            One regulation change affecting archery deer hunters adds language to allow for the use of mechanical broadheads during deer archery season that, when fully expanded, meet current minimum dimensions of legal broadheads for deer hunting. This would delete the requirement that broadheads legal for deer hunting must be one and a half inches in length.
            Other hunting-related changes were approved by the Commission, among them numerous changes to seasons on wildlife management areas to provide additional opportunities for sportsmen.
            To view a complete list of approved hunting-related changes, as well as changes related to angling in Oklahoma, log on to wildlifedepartment.com.
            The new regulations must now pass through the legislative process and be signed by the governor. Look for complete details in the next Oklahoma Hunting and Fishing Guides.
            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 set for 9 a.m., April 1, at the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation headquarters (auditorium), located at the southwest corner of 18th and North Lincoln, Oklahoma City.
 
-30-
 
 
Wildlife Commission approves fishing-related rule changes
            Benefiting anglers and stabilizing populations of big blue catfish are at the heart of a new fishing rule change that will go into effect in 2010.
            The rule change, approved along with several others by the Oklahoma Wildlife Conservation Commission at its March meeting, will limit the daily combined channel and blue catfish limit of 15 to include only one blue catfish measuring 30 inches or more.
            “Research shows that only about one percent of the population of blue catfish in Oklahoma lakes grow to be 30 inches in length,” said Barry Bolton, chief of fisheries for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation. “We can't afford to watch that percentage drop, and I think anglers would agree. Blue catfish are a highly sought-after fish, and relieving pressure on the big ones will ultimately benefit both catfish and the anglers who catch them.”
            Another change approved by the Commission removes the 14-inch black bass length limit at Optima Lake and adds tailwaters to the list of lakes that have 14-inch minimum length limits on walleye, sauger and saugeye (Altus-Lugert, Ellsworth, Fort Cobb, Foss, Lawtonka and Murray lakes). The change also adds Lone Chimney Lake to the list of lakes with 14-inch black bass length limits.
            Other fishing-related changed approved by the Commission include making angling “catch and release” only for ponds on the new Cimarron Bluff WMA, allowing cast netting for shad in the Lower Illinois River designated trout areas from the south boundary of the Marval trout camp downstream to the Hwy 64 bridge, adding seining and minnow traps to the list of legal means for collecting bait for personal use and adding certain turtle species to the list of prohibited species for commercial turtle harvest.
            A complete listing of approved fishing and hunting regulation rule changes is available online at wildlifedepartment.com, including rules changes allowing the potential for new hunting opportunities for black bear, antelope and elk.
            The new regulations must now pass through the legislative process and be signed by the governor. Look for complete details in the next Oklahoma Hunting and Fishing Guides.
            In other business, the Commission accepted a donation of $2,000 from Whitetails of Oklahoma to be used in the production of the Oklahoma Wildlife Expo, a huge annual event dedicated to informing and educating Oklahomans about wildlife conservation and the outdoors. Visitors to the Wildlife Expo receive hands-on instruction in a number of outdoor pursuits such as shotgun shooting, archery, fishing and more while also being exposed to a number of wildlife and outdoor-related booths and activities. Visitors to the Expo can sample wild game meat, get up-close glimpses of wildlife, talk with wildlife professionals and experts on various outdoor pursuits and even shop at the Outdoor Marketplace, where vendors showcase their outdoor products and services. The 2009 Oklahoma Wildlife Expo is slated for Sept. 26-27 at the Lazy E Arena, just north of Oklahoma City. Sept. 25 is designated as “School Day” at the Expo. School Day attracts students from across the state that travel with their classmates to spend a day learning about wildlife through a hands-on approach.
            Whitetails of Oklahoma is non-profit organization dedicated to whitetail deer enthusiasts, including both hunters and breeders.
            The Commission also welcomed Dr. Dave Engle, director of the new Division of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources Water Center at Oklahoma State University, who pledged to work with the Wildlife Department on future water-related issues.
            “As you know water is fundamental to all of terrestrial as well as aquatic ecosystems,” Dr. Engle said, adding that he is looking forward to “partnering with the Department in water-related issues.”
            Additionally, the Commission recognized Rick Cagle, district 6 law enforcement chief, for 25 years of service to the Wildlife Department.
            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 set for 9 a.m. April 1 at the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation headquarters (auditorium), located at the southwest corner of 18th and North Lincoln, Oklahoma City.
 
-30-
 
 
Youth discover wildlife-related careers at summer camp
            The Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation is currently accepting applications for its annual Wildlife Youth Camp slated for June 15-19.
            The youth camp, which is held at OU Biological Station at Lake Texoma, introduces youth age 14-16 to careers in wildlife-related fields and an increased awareness of conserving and managing Oklahoma's wildlife resources. The free camp allows youth to gain first-hand knowledge of careers in wildlife and fisheries management as well as law enforcement.
            “Given the subject matter, it's easy for kids to enjoy themselves and have a great time at the Wildlife Department Youth Camp,” said Wade Farrar, game warden stationed in Logan County. “We cover all things outdoors and send youth home with a better understanding of what wildlife conservation and management is all about. In fact, some campers even move on to eventually become employees at the Wildlife Department and say their time at youth camp helped them choose their career.”
            Courses planned for the week include rifle and shotgun training, muzzleloading, wildlife identification, wildlife law enforcement, fishing, fisheries management, ropes and rappelling, swimming, and turkey and waterfowl hunting, management and enforcement.
            To attend youth camp, applicants must turn 14 prior to June 15, 2009, and be no older than 16. Applicants must write a 75-word essay describing why they want to attend the camp, why they should be selected and what they expect to learn. Additionally, they must provide a letter of recommendation by someone outside their family and a photograph from a recent outdoor-related event or activity.
            The camp will be open to a maximum of 35 youth, and applications will be accepted through April 17, 2009. More information and applications, as well as photographs from previous youth camps are available by logging on to
http://www.wildlifedepartment.com
 
-30-
 
 
53rd annual Forestry and Wildlife Camp provides outdoor learning experience for youth
            It is not too early to think about enrolling your child in summer camp and what could be better than a week in the woods of beautiful Beavers Bend State Park? The Oklahoma Department of Agriculture, Food and Forestry will host its 53rd annual Oklahoma Youth Forestry and Wildlife Camp June 8-13, 2009.
            “One of the longest running summer camps in Oklahoma is gearing up for another action-filled summer camp experience,” said Christina Stallings Roberson, educational coordinator for Oklahoma Forestry Services regarding the youth camp. “It's a great opportunity to get kids in the woods to learn about forestry and wildlife as part of an exciting outdoor adventure!”
            The camp is for boys and girls aged 13 to 15 years old that want to learn more about forestry, wildlife and conservation and that enjoy learning in the outdoors. As one of Oklahoma's premier summer camps, students attend from across the state — many following the tradition of their parents and grandparents who are camp alumni. Field trips, Native American crafts, educational sessions and recreation programs are the heart of the weeklong camp.
            Older youth, ages 18 to 22, can also participate in the weeklong learning experience as camp counselors. Applicants should be mature, responsible young adults with an interest in outdoor careers such as forestry or wildlife, or in education, and have the ability to guide younger youth throughout the camp. Volunteer adult leaders also are needed.
            Camper, counselor and adult applications will be accepted until May 1, 2009 and can be obtained by logging on to www.forestry.ok.gov or by calling (405) 522-6158. The fee for campers is $175, which covers all costs including meals, transportation at camp, field trips, and workshops. A limited number of partial scholarships are available.
            Only 40 campers will be accepted, and applications must be accompanied by a letter of reference from a teacher, counselor, principal, or club leader that has personal knowledge of the camper's interest and conduct.
 
-30-
 
 
Outdoor Oklahoma readers' photos wanted for summer issue
            Every year, Oklahoma's outdoor enthusiasts have a chance to see their own digital photos in print in Outdoor Oklahoma magazine's “Readers' Photography Showcase” issue, and now is the time to submit entries.
            Submissions are being accepted through March 31, and winners will have their work featured in the July/August 2009 issue of Outdoor Oklahoma.
            The summer issue gives both professional and amateur photographers the chance to have their digital photos displayed in a magazine nationally recognized for its photography.
            Each participant may submit up to five digital images. Each submission must include a description of the photo, including the location taken, names and hometowns of subjects and what it took to get just the right shot. Photos should be in sharp focus, and images should be at least 300 dpi (dots per inch). The canvas size should be about 8 inches by 11 inches. Slides and print images will not be accepted.
Hopeful photographers can mail a disk to: Outdoor Oklahoma magazine, Oklahoma Dept. of Wildlife Conservation, P.O. Box 53465, Oklahoma City, OK 73152.
            Individuals can subscribe to Outdoor Oklahoma 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 wildlifedepartment.com.
 
-30-
 
 
Tulsa Fly Fishers to hold banquet and auction
            The Tulsa Fly Fishers have announced their Trout Unlimited banquet set for 6 p.m. March 14 at Freddie's Steakhouse in Sapulpa.
            Dave and Emily Whitlock will be the featured guests and speakers at this year's banquet. Tickets for the event are $45 each, and corporate tables for six will be $200. There will be a live auction, silent auction and raffle items.
            A special fly tying class will be held by Dave Whitlock previous to the banquet.  Those interested in attending should contact Ray Penick call at (918)299-7500.
            Numerous items will be auctioned, including a T.F.O. fly rod donated by Lefty Kreh, and a numbered print of a brown trout painted by Dave Whitlock. Funds raised as a result of this event are for the benefit of the Illinois River. For ticket information, log on to
http://www.tulsaflyfishers.org/   and get in touch with any of the board members on the contact list, or contact the chairperson, Valley Branscum, President of TFF at (918) 231-4562.
            The Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation's fisheries division increased its budget by $60,000 recently thanks to donations from Trout Unlimited and The Tulsa Fly Fishers and Trout Unlimited have helped improve angling opportunities in the past through donations to the Wildlife Department. Most recently, the Wildlife Department's fisheries division increased its budget by $60,000 thanks to donations from Trout Unlimited and Tulsa Fly Fishers. The money will be used for angler access and habitat improvement projects to the Lower Illinois River Watts Area. The donation, which included $14,000 from Trout Unlimited and $1,000 from the Tulsa Fly Fishers, is being matched with $45,000 from Sport Fish Restoration Funds. Fishing equipment carries a special federal tax that is collected from the manufacturer. These taxes are then distributed to state fish and wildlife agencies by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service through the Sport Fish Restoration program.
 
-30-
 

Third annual youth spring turkey season keeps youth in the woods for a lifetime
            Youth all over the state will head to the woods for the third annual youth spring turkey season April 4-5. The season is held the weekend before the spring turkey season, which runs April 6 through May 6, and gives youth the first opportunity to harvest a turkey.
            According to Lance Meek, hunter education coordinator for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation, the youth spring turkey season not only gets young hunters in the woods early, it also keeps them there for a lifetime.
            “Getting youth involved is what keeps the traditions of hunting strong in Oklahoma,” Meek said. “A season designated for youth is a great way to make the sport all about them. Hunters and anglers are conservation’s best friend in Oklahoma because they not only pay for conservation through their license and equipment purchases, but their interest in the outdoors ensures a future for conservation.”
            Youth spring turkey season will be open to hunters under 18 years old. While hunting during the season, youth are required to be accompanied by an adult 18 years old or older.
            Youth ages 16 and 17 must possess a valid hunting license, unless exempt, and a turkey license. They are exempt from the fishing and hunting legacy permit. Youth under 16 years old are exempt from the purchase of a hunting license and the fishing and hunting legacy permit but must possess a turkey license unless exempt. For more information, consult the current “Oklahoma Hunting Guide.” License requirements for nonresident youth are available in the current “Oklahoma Hunting Guide” or online at wildlifedepartment.com.
            Youth who have completed the Wildlife Department’s hunter education course and who plan to hunt during the youth spring turkey season need to be accompanied by an adult 18 years old or older. The adult may not hunt or possess any firearms or archery equipment. Youth who have not completed the hunter education course can still hunt during the youth spring turkey season, but their license will have an apprentice designation and they must be accompanied by a licensed hunter 21 years or older who possesses a certificate of hunter education or is exempt from the hunter education requirements.
            Youth who participate in the youth spring turkey season but do not harvest a turkey may use their unfilled license to hunt turkeys during the regular spring season.
            The youth season limit is one tom turkey, which is included in the county and regular spring season limits.
            According to Meek, youth hunters should remember the following safety tips while hunting during the youth spring turkey season:
* Conceal harvested birds and decoys while walking through the woods.
* Sit with your back against a tree that is large enough to hide your whole body.
* Avoid wearing colors such as red, white or blue while turkey hunting since these are common turkey colors.
* If you see another hunter approaching, speak to them clearly rather than whistling or calling to them with a turkey call.
 
-30-
 
 
Lek treks and more at the Woodward Lesser Prairie Chicken Festival
            The inaugural Lesser Prairie Chicken Festival will be held in Woodward April 17-22, giving Oklahomans a chance to see and hear a symbol of the American prairie as it sings, dances and puts on a mating ritual.
            The lesser prairie chicken is a bird that was once so abundant, “old timers” claim they used to see them blacken the skies in western Oklahoma. Since the 1800s, however, the bird’s numbers and home range have significantly declined, due mostly to human influences like conversion of native rangeland to cropland, overgrazing by livestock and extensive use of herbicides.
            The Oklahoma Audubon Council, along with Oklahoma State University Cooperative Extension and the Oklahoma Agritourism Program have formed a partnership, working to showcase the lesser prairie chicken and its importance to Oklahoma.
            Many activities are planned for the Lesser Prairie Chicken Festival, including viewing the bird’s booming grounds, an owl prowl, geocaching and stargazing. Multiple tours will be available to view prairie dog towns and the Shattuck Windmill Museum as well as tours dedicated to birding Black Mesa and prairie bugs and plants. Workshops will also be conducted on topics such as the ecology of the lesser prairie chicken, nature sketching, prairie spiders, bugs and venomous insects and prairie plants. Multiple guest speakers also will be on hand to give presentations.
            For more information about the Festival or to download a registration form, log on to okaudubon.org.
            The Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation is working to actively with private landowners to conserve lesser prairie chickens on their property through its Landowner Incentive Program. To learn more, log on to wildlifedepartment.com.
 
-30-
 
 
Tulsa Fly Fishers to hold banquet and auction
            The Tulsa Fly Fishers have announced their Trout Unlimited banquet set for 6 p.m., March 14, at Freddie’s Steakhouse in Sapulpa.
            Dave and Emily Whitlock will be the featured guests and speakers at this year’s banquet. Tickets for the event are $45 each, and corporate tables for six will be $200. There will be a live auction, silent auction and raffle items.
            A special fly tying class will be held by Dave Whitlock previous to the banquet.  Those interested in attending should contact Ray Penick at raypenick@cox.net    or call at (918)299-7500.
            Numerous items will be auctioned, including a T.F.O. fly rod donated by Lefty Kreh, and a numbered print of a brown trout painted by Dave Whitlock. Funds raised as a result of this event are for the benefit of the Illinois River. For ticket information, log on to http://www.tulsaflyfishers.org/  and get in touch with any of the board members on the contact list, or contact the chairperson, Valley Branscum, President of TFF at (918) 231-4562.
            The Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation’s Fisheries Division recently increased its budget by $60,000 thanks to donations from the Tulsa Fly Fishers and Trout Unlimited. The money will be used for angler access and habitat improvement projects to the Lower Illinois River Watts Area. The donation, which included $14,000 from Trout Unlimited and $1,000 from the Tulsa Fly Fishers, is being matched with $45,000 from Sport Fish Restoration Funds. Fishing equipment carries a special federal tax that is collected from the manufacturer. These taxes are then distributed to state fish and wildlife agencies by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service through the Sport Fish Restoration program.
 
-30-
 
 
Outdoor Oklahoma readers’ photos wanted for summer issue
            Every year, Oklahoma’s outdoor enthusiasts have a chance to see their own digital photos in print in Outdoor Oklahoma magazine’s “Readers’ Photography Showcase” issue, and now is the time to submit entries.
            Submissions are being accepted through March 31, and winners will have their work featured in the July/August 2009 issue of Outdoor Oklahoma.
            The summer issue gives both professional and amateur photographers the chance to have their digital photos displayed in a magazine nationally recognized for its photography.
            Each participant may submit up to five digital images. Each submission must include a description of the photo, including the location taken, names and hometowns of subjects and what it took to get just the right shot. Photos should be in sharp focus, and images should be at least 300 dpi (dots per inch). The canvas size should be about 8 inches by 11 inches. Slides and print images will not be accepted.
Hopeful photographers can mail a disk to: Outdoor Oklahoma magazine, Oklahoma Dept. of Wildlife Conservation, P.O. Box 53465, Oklahoma City, OK 73152.
            Individuals can subscribe to Outdoor Oklahoma 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 wildlifedepartment.com.
 
-30-

State fish offers hot angling action as spawning season arrives
            Of all the official state symbols Oklahoma claims, the white bass is the favorite for anglers, especially in the coming weeks when the native fish begin their annual spawning runs up creeks, rivers and other streams that feed into lakes across the state.
            The annual spawning run of the official state fish, often called the “sand bass,” occurs during the spring and is perhaps best described as a “fish frenzy.” White bass move in large schools to spawn, and anglers who fish at the right time can end up with near constant angling action as well as a stringer full of fish. Fisheries biologists with the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation recently provided the inside scoop on how to get in on the best springtime white bass fishing no matter where you live in the state.
            This season's white bass spawning run was already underway during the first week of March in tributaries of southeast Oklahoma lakes, with males being harvested in the upper reaches of Pine Creek and Broken Bow, according to Kyle James, southeast region fisheries biologist for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation.
            “At the same time, females were staging five miles downstream from the shoals in Broken Bow,” James said.
            A cold front swept through the region the second week of March, dropping water temperatures back into the 50s. Flows peaked at 8,475 cubic feet per second on March 11 at the Mountain Fork River gage near Smithville. Warmer, dryer conditions are helping fishing conditions return to normal.
            “Historically, the spawning runs last from mid-March to the first of May,” James said. “Using a 1/8 oz. jig and a white or yellow curly tailed grub is a popular lure for catching white bass. Try tying on two jigs at a time, but hold on, because two fish fight harder than one.”
            Hotspots in the southeast region include the narrows at Broken Bow, Pine Creek, Hugo, and Sardis reservoirs. Both walk-in and boat access areas are available. James reminds anglers to get landowner permission before entering private property.
            In the southcentral portions of the state, lake levels have been below normal, making upstream migration difficult for white bass. Matt Mauck, southcentral region fisheries supervisor for the Wildlife Department, said any significant rains in the next few weeks may trigger fish into “spawning mode.” However, if river flows are not significant, anglers can target white bass on wind blown, rocky points in the upper ends of reservoirs.
            “Lake Texoma offers great white bass fishing,” Mauck said. “However, heavy siltation has limited access to several historic spawning tributaries. Anglers can still target these fish in the Red and Washita Rivers and inflowing tributary streams such as Pennington Creek. Other notable white bass runs occur in and above Arbuckle and Murray Lakes. Artificial lures such as grubs, spinners and bait fish imitators are often the best way to catch these spawning fish.”
            Further north, angling success has been reported from creeks accessible from the Eufaula Wildlife Management Area in eastcentral Oklahoma. One, Duchess Creek, is accessed by taking the Texanna Road exit off I-40 about four miles east of Checotah and driving south four and a half miles. Turn east on the dirt road and proceed one quarter mile to the first bridge. Fish upstream or downstream according to lake level. The other area on the WMA is located about 10 miles west of Eufaula. Turn south off Hwy 9 onto Lenna Road and continue about two miles south until arriving at a dead-end. Hike south or southeast a quarter to a half mile across WMA land to Mill Creek and find the riffle areas in the creek.
            Additionally, Danny Bowen, central region fisheries biologist for the Wildlife Department, said sand bass are being caught on Wewoka Creek south of Wetumka.
            Eastern Oklahoma offers a number of white bass fishing opportunities as well, according to Gary Peterson, eastcentral region fisheries biologist for the Wildlife Department.
            “Pick one of the larger tributaries to the Arkansas River and watch for increased water flow in early spring,” Peterson said. “For example, on Robert S. Kerr's Sallisaw Creek arm, fishing intensifies after a warm spring rain brings a water level rise. The same thing happens on Dirty Creek west of Webbers Falls, below Greenleaf Dam on Greenleaf Creek or below every dam on the Arkansas River Navigation System for that matter. It's all a question of when the warm rains bring an increased water flow.”
            Horseshoe Bend, on the Illinois River above Tenkiller Lake, is probably the best known white bass fishing “hot spot” in eastcentral Oklahoma, according to Peterson.
            “At times, when the spawning run is especially strong, the place resembles an RV campground, with plenty of states represented,” Peterson said. Traditionally, white bass can be caught anytime from mid March to early May depending on water flow, but the peak is usually around the first week or so in April.  “The smaller males are the first to show up in any numbers, and any water level rise after that will send the females upriver to spawn.  Bank access is limited, but boaters can put in at the Horseshoe Bend boat ramp.”
            To get to Horseshoe Bend, take State Highway 82 south from Tahlequah to Horseshoe Bend Road in Keys. Turn east, stopping at the Illinois River.
            Northwest Oklahoma's Canton Lake is expected to be a hot white bass fishing destination over the next few weeks, according to biologists in the region.
            “Canton Lake has an outstanding white bass run,” said John Stahl, northwest region fisheries supervisor for the Wildlife Department. “Some fish are staging right now at the mouth of the North Canadian and the Beaver Pond Area. The run will start about the end of the first week in April.”
            Plenty of lake access is provided at Canton, along with amenities such as food and fishing gear in Canton and nearby Longdale. According to Stahl, all you have to do is watch the trees to know when to catch the white bass run just right.
            “Locals say that when the redbuds are in full bloom it's time to go,” Stahl said.
            Further south, white bass runs are not as typical due to low average rainfall and relatively short stream lengths, according to Larry Cofer, southwest region fisheries supervisor for the Wildlife Department.
            “If we get rainfall in late March or early April, the exception is above Lake Waurika in Beaver Creek with access around the Hwy 53 bridges and the county roads above the Waurika WMA,” Cofer said, adding that striped bass hybrids also are caught running upstream from the lake. Striped bass hybrids are the result of crossing the white bass with the non-native striped bass in Wildlife Department fisheries hatcheries.
            Cofer said boat fisherman can catch “sandies” above Lakes Lawtonka and Ellsworth to the headwaters of Medicine and Cache creeks, where white bass congregate after a rain.
            “Some of our best sand bass fishing is where they spawn along windy rip-rap areas in our lakes,” Cofer said regarding the southwest region of the state. “Altus-Lugert, Lawtonka and Tom Steed hold healthy populations of sand bass, and you can catch them along windy, rocky banks through spring, even after the spawn. Also, fish the rip-rap on the dams this month at lakes Chickasha, Clear Creek, Comanche, Elk City, Ellsworth, and Waurika, particularly in a north wind after fronts come through.”
            One female white bass can produce up to one million eggs. White bass reproductive activities are triggered when water temperatures reach 50 to 55 degrees Fahrenheit. Spawning occurs at random over weeds, debris and rocks. When tributary streams are available, white bass prefers upstream migration for spawning. No parental care is provided to eggs or young. Anglers should equip themselves with light to medium light action tackle and an assortment of jigs.
            To learn more about white bass or fishing in Oklahoma, or to sign up for the Wildlife Department's weekly fishing report, log on to wildlifedepartment.com.
 
-30-
 
 
Five-year hunting and fishing license benefiting sportsmen in 2009
            Since the start of 2009, nearly 4,000 sportsmen have already taken advantage of the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation's new, money-saving five-year hunting, fishing or combination licenses.
            Authored by State Rep. Randy McDaniel (R - Edmond), House Bill 2667 was signed into law in 2008, creating the five-year licenses that became available for 2009. Senator John Ford (R - Bartlesville) was the Senate author.
            “There seemed to be a need,” McDaniel said about the process of authoring the bill. “People were asking for something that was in between the annual license and the lifetime license.”
            The five-year hunting, fishing or combination license not only provides sportsmen an alternative to purchasing an annual license without the expense of a lifetime license, but it also saves money compared to purchasing annual licenses and fishing and hunting legacy permits over the course of five years.
            Sportsmen considering a five-year license can choose between the five-year fishing license and the five-year hunting license for $88, or they can purchase a five-year combination hunting and fishing license for $148. Each five-year license also includes the five-year fishing and hunting legacy permit. Normally, hunters and anglers pay $5 each year for the legacy permit, or $25 over five years.
            The five-year license provides about a 30 percent savings over purchasing annual licenses and fishing and hunting legacy permits.
            Rep. McDaniel said the five-year license is “something we can all take advantage of.”
            “I'm proud to have one myself,” McDaniel said. “I think this is a good product.”
            Sportsmen who hold a five-year license will still be required to purchase other applicable annual permits such deer and turkey licenses, appropriate waterfowl stamps, land access permits and other permits where required. The five-year fishing, hunting or combination license is available through the Wildlife Department's Web site at wildlifedepartment.com or at many sporting goods stores or locations that sells hunting and fishing licenses through the Wildlife Department's internet point of sales system.
            Rep. McDaniel is the state's District 83 representative (northwest Oklahoma City) and serves on several House committees, including Tourism and Recreation, for which he is vice chair; Industry and Labor; Arts and Culture; Human Services; and Health. Sen. Ford represents District 29 (northeast Oklahoma).
            The Wildlife Department is the state agency charged with conserving Oklahoma's wildlife. It receives no general state tax revenues and is funded by sportsmen through the purchase of hunting and fishing licenses and special federal excise taxes on sporting goods.
 
-30-
 
 
Wildlife Department employment exam scheduled
            The Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation will be holding an open employment exam Friday, March 27, at Rose State College.
            “Working for the Department is an extremely rewarding experience,” said Mikki Gutierrez, human resources administrator for the Wildlife Department.
            Taking the test is the first step in the hiring process for individuals seeking positions as game wardens, biologists, fish hatchery assistant managers or technicians with the Department.
            The standardized employment exam is set for 10 a.m. in the auditorium of the Tom Steed building. The exam is free, and participants must have photo identification upon check-in. Late arrivals will not be permitted to enter the examination room after 10 a.m.
            “The Department looks for the best wildlife conservation employees available, and we want those who are interested to begin getting involved,” Gutierrez said. “This test is the first step for most positions at the Wildlife Department.”
            Specific job and education requirements for Department positions as well as suggested study material for the exams are listed on the Department's official Web site at
http://www.wildlifedepartment.com/
            Individuals may take the exam once in a 12-month period. Test scores are valid for 12 months from the test date, and top scorers will be invited to submit an employment application. When a job opening becomes available, selected applicants from the test register will be scheduled for an interview. For more information, contact the Wildlife Department's Human Resources office at (405) 521-4640.
 
-30-
 

Big bass season starts with two 14-pounders
            Two anglers recently made the state’s top 20 largemouth bass list when they reeled in bass tipping the scales at over 14 pounds.
            Tim O’Connor of Oklahoma City landed his 14-lb., 1-oz. bass Feb. 28 from a private pond in Pottawatomie County. He was using a jig and craw setup, and he released the fish. O’Connor said he has caught other nice fish in private ponds this year as well. The big bass lands a number eight spot on the state’s top 20 largemouth bass list.
            A week later, on March 7, angler Jeremiah Johnson of Bristow landed a 14-lb., 5.9-oz. bass from Wetumka Lake for a number four spot on the top 20 list. His seven-foot Berkley rod was rigged with a red seven-inch Zellmander Carolina rig. The fish was 24 inches long and had a 21-inch girth. The live fish was turned over to Bass Pro Shops in Broken Arrow for display.
            Though it may be rare to see two 14-pound bass caught in a week’s time, it’s not unusual for big bass to be caught this time of year in Oklahoma. A glance through the list of Oklahoma’s top 20 largemouth bass reveals 17 fish caught in the months of February, March and April. Eight of those fish have been caught since 2001.
            Johnson’s fish also will go down as a Wetumka Lake record through the Wildlife Department’s Lake Record Fish Program. Sportsmen can search lake record fish information, including the sizes of fish caught and what tackle was used to catch them, through a user-friendly search feature on the Wildlife Department’s Web site at wildlifedepartment.com.
            According to fisheries biologists with the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation, now through the next month is a great time to be fishing for not only big bass, but also for high numbers of bass as water temperatures warm and as spawning season approaches.
            A number of good live and artificial bait choices are available including plastic worms, surface lures and assortments of jigs as well as live minnows and even worms.
            “Anybody can catch a nice bass in Oklahoma,” said Gene Gilliland, central region fisheries supervisor for the Wildlife Department. “The key is to be out there fishing, because you sure won’t catch any while inside.”
            To fish in Oklahoma, anglers must have a state fishing license and a fishing and hunting legacy permit, unless exempt. Some municipalities and lakes also require anglers to carry special permits. Consult the current “Oklahoma Fishing Guide” for more information.
            To see Oklahoma’s Top 20 Largemouth Bass list, log on to http://www.wildlifedepartment.com/
            To access the Wildlife Department’s lake record fish search feature or for more information about bass fishing in Oklahoma, log on to wildlifedepartment.com.
 


 
Johnson’s bass: http://lake-record.ou.edu/fishsite/public/fishView.php?id=565&lake%5B%5D=191&species%5B%5D=7&&sort
 

-30-
 
 
Youth discover wildlife-related careers at summer camp
            The Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation is currently accepting applications for its annual Wildlife Youth Camp slated for June 15-19.
            The youth camp, which is held at OU Biological Station at Lake Texoma, introduces youth age 14-16 to careers in wildlife-related fields and an increased awareness of conserving and managing Oklahoma’s wildlife resources. The free camp allows youth to gain first-hand knowledge of careers in wildlife and fisheries management as well as law enforcement.
            “Given the subject matter, it’s easy for kids to enjoy themselves and have a great time at the Wildlife Department Youth Camp,” said Wade Farrar, game warden stationed in Logan County. “We cover all things outdoors and send youth home with a better understanding of what wildlife conservation and management is all about. In fact, some campers even move on to eventually become employees at the Wildlife Department and say their time at youth camp helped them choose their career.”
            Courses planned for the week include rifle and shotgun training, muzzleloading, wildlife identification, wildlife law enforcement, fishing, fisheries management, ropes and rappelling, swimming, and turkey and waterfowl hunting, management and enforcement.
            To attend youth camp, applicants must turn 14 prior to June 15, 2009, and be no older than 16. Applicants must write a 75-word essay describing why they want to attend the camp, why they should be selected and what they expect to learn. Additionally, they must provide a letter of recommendation by someone outside their family and a photograph from a recent outdoor-related event or activity.
            The camp will be open to a maximum of 35 youth, and applications will be accepted through April 17, 2009. More information and applications, as well as photographs from previous youth camps are available by logging on to http://www.wildlifedepartment.com
 
-30-
 
 
Last chance for Outdoor Oklahoma readers’ to submit photo contest entries
            Readers of Outdoor Oklahoma magazine have just days left to submit their best outdoor digital photography to the annual “Readers’ Photography Showcase” contest.
            Submissions are being accepted through March 31, and winners will have their work featured in the July/August 2009 issue of Outdoor Oklahoma.
            The summer issue gives both professional and amateur photographers the chance to have their digital photos displayed in a magazine nationally recognized for its photography.
            Each participant may submit up to five digital images. Each submission must include a description of the photo, including the location taken, names and hometowns of subjects and what it took to get just the right shot. Photos should be in sharp focus, and images should be at least 300 dpi (dots per inch). The canvas size should be about 8 inches by 11 inches. Slides and print images will not be accepted.
Hopeful photographers can mail a disk to: Outdoor Oklahoma magazine, Oklahoma Dept. of Wildlife Conservation, P.O. Box 53465, Oklahoma City, OK 73152.
            Individuals can subscribe to Outdoor Oklahoma 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.


 
-30-