Oklahoma Free Fishing Days

Oklahoma Free Fishing Days

There is no better time to introduce your friends or family members to the great American pastime of fishing than to take them out on Free Fishing Days!

Anyone can fish for free June 2-3, 2018, in Oklahoma. On that weekend, a state fishing license will not be required for any resident or nonresident angler to fish.

The Sooner State has some excellent fishing in lakes, ponds, rivers and streams, but also in urban waters designated by the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation as “Close to Home Fishing” locations.

Although state fishing licenses and the Oklahoma City fishing permit (where applicable) are not required during Free Fishing Days, anglers should note that certain city permits may still apply in other urban fishing areas. Additionally, anglers fishing Lake Texoma should be aware that Free Fishing Days applies for all of the lake on June 2 but only on Oklahoma portions of the lake on June 3.

Oklahoma was the first state in the nation to offer free fishing days about 35 years ago and has since been followed by dozens of other states that have established similar days.

Avoid Interfering With Young Wildlife

Avoid Interfering With Young Wildlife

by the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation

The best thing you can do for young wildlife is to keep young wildlife wild.

Springtime is when people in the Lake Texoma area begin to see a variety of newborn and young animals. Newborn rabbits, squirrels, deer and birds easily appeal to most people’s sense of care and compassion. People often think these baby animals are “so cute” and imagine that they must be lost or abandoned.

Usually that is not the case.

“Chances are an adult animal is nearby and is simply waiting on you to move away so they can take care of their young,” said Mark Howery, natural resource biologist with the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation.

In most cases, people should not interfere with young wildlife.

In Oklahoma, most fawns are born in May and June. And that’s when people begin seeing the young animals.

Fawn
Fawns are periodically left alone, which is normal behavior for the doe. People who come across young wildlife are urged to leave the animals alone. (Matt Johnston/RPS 2016)

Game Warden Brayden Hicks, based in Caddo County, said he has taken several calls from the public asking him to rescue a fawn found near a home. “I tell them don’t touch the fawn, and don’t try to feed it. Normally the momma is around, and she’s left her fawn on purpose so she can go feed.”

The doe leaves the fawn because it must maintain good nutrition to produce milk. Also, the doe will often leave a fawn in a safe place, such as near a house or where people can easily see them, because those are places where predators might be less likely to visit.

Also, the doe will stay away from its fawn so the doe’s scent will not attract predators. But the doe will normally return several times during the day to nurse its fawn.

Howery said springtime storms can easily blow young birds and squirrels out of their nests. Even though they may appear to be alone and distressed or in need of help, a mature animal will often find and care for them.

It can actually be more stressful on young wildlife when people try to help. People who take in wildlife and attempt to raise and release those animals are actually doing them no favors. The animals will lose their instinctual fear of people and begin to bond with and depend on people to survive. If returned to nature later, these animals will have no idea how to feed or what dangers to avoid. And the young animal could even die from the stress of being handled.

“It’s admirable when well-meaning Lake Texoma sportsmen and outdoor enthusiasts want to help, but sometimes the best help we can offer young wildlife is to leave them alone and let nature run its course,” Howery said.

In rare cases, an animal might actually need help, such as when it is injured or seriously ill. That is when the public might choose to call a wildlife rehabilitator. A list of rehabilitators by county is at www.wildlifedepartment.com/law/rehabilitator-list.

TPWD Unveils New Alligator Gar Website

TPWD Unveils New Alligator Gar Website

Austin Texas | Texas Parks and Wildlife Department

Website serves as information portal for Texas’ largest, longest-lived freshwater fish

The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) unveiled a new website April 13 to educate and inform Texans about alligator gar – the largest freshwater fish in Texas and one of the largest freshwater fishes in North America. The site, which can be found at tpwd.texas.gov/texasgar, features informational articles about alligator gar and the findings of studies conducted by TPWD biologists.

The new website was created by TPWD Inland Fisheries staff to provide anglers and non-anglers with all the information they need about Texas alligator gar in one place. That includes information on alligator gar identification, management, distribution and fishing tips and tactics.

Alligator gar get big — really big — and they look like something that should be swimming around with dinosaurs, not bass and crappie. But it is not just their looks that are unique. Alligator gar are like few other fishes that swim in our rivers, reservoirs and estuaries.  There have been many reports of these fish being caught in the Red River and Lake Texoma.

“There is a lot of misinformation floating around about alligator gar regarding their impact on other fish, where they are located throughout the state and population sizes of the gar that live in our reservoirs and rivers,” said Dave Buckmeier, Research Program Director. “This website will provide Texans with a one-stop shop to find science-based facts and information about alligator gar and clear up some of the confusion surrounding these misunderstood fish.”

Some other common myths and misconceptions about alligator gar addressed on the website include the idea that they attack humans, that they are not native to Texas, that they are invasive and that their populations are plentiful throughout their range.

“Alligator gar are only present in a handful states in the country, and although Texas has some of the most robust populations, these fish still face challenges related to angling pressure and limited access to floodplain spawning habitats,” said Dan Daugherty, TPWD research biologist. “In order to sustain this unique fishery for future generations of anglers we want to engage the public and provide a better understanding of these fish both as a recreational resource and as a valuable part of the ecosystem.”

To date, TPWD research has focused on understanding how long alligator gar live, how fast they grow, how often they successfully reproduce and how healthy our populations currently are. But while they have learned a great deal about these topics, researchers know relatively little about the anglers who fish for them.

To help answer this question, the new alligator gar website is hosting pre-registration for an upcoming constituent survey that will gather information about people’s preferences, attitudes and opinions about these fish. This information will be used by researchers to help inform upcoming management decisions about fishing rules and regulations for alligator gar.

“With this survey we will be targeting both anglers and non-anglers in an effort to reach an audience as diverse as Texas itself,” said Warren Schlechte, TPWD research biologist. “The goal is to gain a better understanding of who our constituents are, how our anglers like to fish, their harvest practices, and how they would like to see alligator gar managed in the future.”

The alligator gar constituent survey will launch in June, but anglers can pre-register now on the new alligator gar website here. Pre-registered anglers and non-anglers will be notified via email when the survey launches this summer.

Other resources on the new alligator gar website include links to the species description, current fishing regulations statewide and in select reservoirs, Texas Parks and Wildlife Magazine feature articles related to alligator gar and a list of publications related to alligator gar life history and management.

To learn more, visit the alligator gar website at tpwd.texas.gov/texasgar.