This year, the Wildlife Department’s Fisheries Division has made a rule change allowing anglers to keep smaller, more abundant largemouth and smallmouth bass while limiting the harvest of larger bass. The rule removes the 14-inch minimum length limit from lakes and reservoirs and allows anglers to keep only one bass greater than 16 inches daily. Biologists anticipate a positive impact on the overall quality of Oklahoma’s black bass populations.
Watch the below presentation from Northeast Region Fisheries Supervisor Josh Johnston on the rule changes.
Watch below as Cliff Sager, a Senior Fisheries Biologist from the Southcentral Region, shares why anglers should "keep a bass".
Bass Regulation Change FAQ
What is the new regulation?
Largemouth and/or Smallmouth Bass- Daily limit is six (6), of which only one (1) may be greater than 16 inches in length. This regulation does not apply to rivers and streams, Lake Texoma, or Doc Hollis Lake. A free Bass Tournament Directors Exemption Permit has been established, see below "What are the rules for the Bass Tournament Directors Permit?".
This regulation officially goes into effect on September 11th, 2022.
I fish bass tournaments, how will this affect me?
The tournament director will apply for a free Bass Tournament Directors Exemption Permit and will distribute this permit (paper or electronic copy) to all participating anglers. This permit must contain a 6-digit code to be a legal exemption. See info below "What are the rules for the Bass Tournament Directors Permit?".
How much does a tournament exemption cost?
It’s free! Only tournament directors need to apply for the exemption permit.
I am a tournament director, how do I get the tournament exemption?
The tournament exemption is available through the Go Outdoors Oklahoma App, or at https://gooutdoorsoklahoma.com. See the video below for a demonstration of how tournament directors can obtain the exemption. 1-Day and multi-day options are available. Each separate tournament will need an exemption permit. Weekly series (jackpots) will need a permit for each week. See info below "What are the rules for the Bass Tournament Directors Permit?".
What are the rules for the Bass Tournament Directors Permit?
Bass Tournament Director's Exemption Permit
This permit application is intended for tournament directors only and not participating anglers. Only 1 exemption permit is needed per tournament.
Directors will distribute approved permit information to anglers participating in their tournament(s).
What This Permit Allows:
An exemption to bass size limits when the requirements and conditions of the permit are met.
What This Permit Does NOT Allow:
Fishing without a valid fishing license unless otherwise exempt by law from needing one.
Exceeding the daily bag limit.
Culling dead fish. All dead fish are a part of the angler’s bag and must be part of the weigh-in.
Keeping any of the fish after the weigh-in. Anglers must immediately release or turn over their catch to the Bass Tournament for release following the tournament.
Additional requirements and conditions include:
Permit application must be made at least 3 days (but not more than 365 days) in advance of the scheduled tournament date(s).
The number of registered anglers fishing during the tournament shall not be less than 6.
The following documents are legally required at all times during a permitted bass tournament: (1) the permittee or a tournament official must be present and possess a valid Bass Tournament Exemption Permit, (2) a valid Participant Permit (or a copy of the original permit) must be possessed by all participants, and (3) a valid fishing license (unless the angler is exempted by law) and personal identification must be possessed by all anglers fishing in the tournament.
All fish caught in the tournament are to be live released back into the permitted tournament waters or disposed of in a legal manner. Dead fish are not to be culled by a participant and must be part of the weigh-in.
Each boat will have one or more functioning aerated livewell(s). A functioning livewell is defined as one that has a working aeration or oxygenation system or a flow-through system to pump fresh water into the livewell. Anglers not meeting this requirement may not participate in the tournament. Tournament participants may not possess or weigh-in more than the total daily bag limit for black bass, regardless of the number of weigh-ins.
The daily bag limit allowed per angler, under the Bass Tournament Exemption Permit, is five black bass in aggregate per day, unless otherwise restricted by the conditions of this permit.
The permittee or a tournament official shall be present at the start of the tournament and weigh-in.
All efforts shall be made to release fish unharmed or in a manner that does not cause injury or death to the fish. All bass taken over land or dock must be transported in water-filled containers. Efforts will be made to minimize the time bass are kept in water-filled containers prior to, during, and after weigh-in without supplemental aeration and water exchange.
Within 30 days following the tournament, the permittee shall submit a completed tournament activity report (see details in the FAQ below). Failure to submit the report will result in denial of future Bass Tournament Exemptions.
Tournament directors must read and agree to the terms and conditions of this Exemption Permit before completing an application.
What information is needed for the Bass Tournament Report?
Below is the information needed to complete the ODWC Post Bass Tournament Director's Exemption Report. This form can be completed following a permitted bass tournament by logging into your account at https://license.gooutdoorsoklahoma.com/Licensing/LicenseHome.aspx and selecting the Bass Tournament Reports tab.
(* = Required Fields)
Total Number of Boats*
Total Number of Anglers Participating*
Number of Teams or Individuals Weighing Fish*
Number of Teams/Individuals Weighing a Limit of Fish*
Total Weight of All Bass Weighed*
Total Number of All Bass Weighed*
Total Number of Largemouth Bass Weighed
Total Number of Smallmouth Bass Weighed
Total Number of Spotted (Kentucky) Bass Weighed
Total Number of Bass over 5 lbs*
Total Number of Bass over 8 lbs*
1st Place Weight*
2nd Place Weight*
3rd Place Weight*
1st Place Big Bass*
2nd Place Big Bass
3rd Place Big Bass
4th Place Big Bass
5th Place Big Bass
Please provide any additional information about the tournament.
If you would like to upload any photos from your event, please do so below.
If my tournament is a catch-weigh-release format, do I need a tournament exemption?
All bass tournaments are encouraged to apply for a tournament exemption and submit a post-tournament report. However, catch-weigh-release (paper tournament) formats don’t require the possession of fish and are therefore not required to obtain an exemption to the length limit.
Should I be harvesting smaller bass?
In most cases, yes. Harvest is one of the major keys to growing and maintaining a quality bass population. See more about harvesting bass here: