TAKE IT TO THE BANK: A boat is not always necessary to catch fish
The peak of spring fishing has passed when most of the fish are spawning, but there still is some great fishing to take advantage of right now.
Even if you don't have a boat, there are good options for fishing from the bank at this time of year. Now that school has ended, it's also a great time to take a kid fishing and start making some memories.
And if you go on June 3, the fishing is free. No state fishing license is needed as this is the annual free fishing weekend. Oklahoma City also waives the requirement of city fishing permits for the annual free fishing days on its lakes and "Close to Home" fishing ponds.
So what to fish for? Well, anything that will bite, and here is what should be biting, according to Kurt Kuklinski, supervisor of the Oklahoma Fishery Research Laboratory in Norman.
Sunfish: Bluegill sunfish are finishing up spawning and actively feeding in shallow water (2-5 feet) which makes them easily accessible from shore.
The Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation has been stocking hybrid sunfish into Close to Home lakes for the past three years to provide quality bank fishing in the Oklahoma City metropolitan area.
But almost any lake or pond has sunfish to catch. This is a great opportunity to introduce kids to fishing because the sunfish bite is active, which keeps young anglers engaged. Sunfish are easy to target with simple gear such as a hook, bobber, and worm or cricket.
Saugeye: Saugeye are generally actively feeding in May and June before warmer water slows them down in the summer. Lake Thunderbird is a great place to target saugeye this time of year. Plenty of 3- to 5-pound saugeye feed in shallow water (2-5 feet) along main lake points adjacent to deeper water.
These fish move into shallow points and aggressively feed on shad, small sunfish and crappie, and other food in the early morning hours. Anglers can fish from the bank or wade in the shallow water to access quality saugeye.
Fish will bite 3-inch curly tail grubs and other soft plastic jigs, or shallow running minnow crankbaits. There are a lot of saugeye, a hatchery-raised cross between sauger and walleye, over 18 inches for anglers to harvest for a meal.
Catfish: June is the month when catfishing can really pick up as the water warms. Channel catfish feed along rip rap and large rocky shorelines (like a dam) prior to finding cavities to spawn.
Blue catfish are also feeding actively at this time of year. Arcadia Lake is a great place to target blue catfish in the Oklahoma City metro area.
Flathead catfish may already be holed up in spawning mode, but will come out feeding in the coming weeks. Bank anglers can get into catfish along lake dams or other areas of large rock, as well as main lake points and adjacent flats.
Crappie: Post-spawn crappie will be found in cover (brush piles) anywhere from 5 to 15 feet of water. Bank anglers can find crappie this time of year at fishing docks where the Wildlife Department places brush piles and other structure to attract fish.
The Wildlife Department has a digital map which provides places on state lakes and rivers where agency officials have placed such fish attractors. The Fish Attractors Map can be viewed on your phone via a mobile app or found at www.wildlifedepartment.com.
The map also identifies whether the fish structures, mostly cedar tree piles and spider blocks, are marked by fishing buoys. It also tells if there is bank fishing access to them and provides exact locations for them through latitude and longitude points.
The map gets updated every year as state wildlife officials add more brush piles and other fishing structures in lakes.
And if you want to learn more about fishing, the Wildlife Department offers free family fishing clinics during June and July at the Arcadia Conservation Education Area in Edmond on Arcadia Lake.
The classes cover the basics of fishing for beginning anglers, including skills such as fish identification, knot tying, equipment and more. A fishing license is not required to attend the clinics.
Oklahoma City fisheries staff and Wildlife Department volunteers also teach the annual "Hooked on Fishing" classes for youth through July at various sites across Oklahoma City. The free classes are held Saturday mornings for youth ages 5 to 15, who must be accompanied by an adult.
To reserve a spot for the youth fishing classes, call 405-297-1426. For a list of scheduled family fishing clinics or the "Hooked on Fishing" classes for youth, go to the fishing clinics page at www.wildlifedepartment.com.