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Lake Carl Etling: A Fishing Excursion that's Off the Beaten Path

Wednesday, July 28, 2021


Lake Etling
Lake Carl Etling at Black Mesa State Park. Darrin Hill/ODWC

If you’re drawn to unique fishing destinations, then look to Lake Carl Etling in the far reaches of the Oklahoma Panhandle. Nestled near the New Mexico and Colorado borders within Black Mesa State Park, Etling marks the westernmost point of the Oklahoma Fishing Trail – a joint initiative of the Wildlife Department and the Oklahoma Tourism & Recreation Department to promote fishing tourism statewide. The lake offers fishing opportunities for largemouth bass, channel catfish, walleye and - like any Oklahoma lake worth its volume as a fishing spot – sunfish.

Lake Etling view
Lake Carl Etling represents an important public recreation destinatation in the Oklahoma Panhandle. Photo by Kelly Adams/ODWC 

Fisheries personnel with the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation actively manage the lake for fishing, most recently adding a stocking of hybrid striped bass fingerlings to provide even more fishing diversity. Typically, hybrid striped bass fingerlings reach catchable size after about two years of growth.

“This stocking of hybrids should provide great angling opportunities to lake visitors as these fish grow,” said Sen. Casey Murdock, R-Felt. “In the meantime, Lake Carl Etling still provides great fishing opportunity as well as access to an important public fishing destination in this part of the state. Not only that, but the surrounding area offers stunning landscapes and great attractions for outdoor-lovers and adventure-seekers.”

WIldlife Department personnel recently stocked hybrid striped bass at Lake Carl Etling in hopes of growing future fishing opportunities at the lake, in addition to existing populations of bass, catfish, walleye and sunfish. Photo ODWC

With bank access, two boat ramps, and good options for picnicking, camping and state park cabin rentals, Etling certainly stacks up as a fishing destination. And the adjacent state park and Black Mesa Nature Preserve provide additional outdoor recreation opportunities that Oklahoma has come to be known for like hiking, kayaking and wildlife viewing. The state park, located 26 miles northwest of Boise City in Cimarron County, offers guests a chance to hike to Oklahoma’s highest point above sea level at 4,973 feet.

Black Mesa State Park adds interest for Lake Etling anglers looking for additional outdoor recreation, including camping, hiking and kayaking. The park also boasts Oklahoma's highest point above sea level. Photo by Kelly Adams/ODWC

Lake Carl Etling was built by the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation in 1958. Today, as part of the Oklahoma Fishing Trail, the lake helps showcase the best of Oklahoma fishing. The Fishing Trail is organized into six loops across the state – organized by lake and species. Anglers can use the interactive website at okfishingtrail.com to help navigate the various loops as they endeavor to complete the Oklahoma Fishing Trail Grand Slam Challenge, which entails catching one of each of several designated species along the Trail and documenting the catches through the website. Successful Grand Slam finishers are mailed an exclusive decal. Learn more at okfishingtrail.com.

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