5 Best Rivers to Fish in Oklahoma

Father and Son Fishing

Are you an avid fisherman always on the hunt for a new watering hole to check out? If so, you’re in luck as we’ve highlighted several of Oklahoma’s best rivers to fish for trout, bass, catfish, and more.

Oklahoma’s abundant rivers offer anglers a diverse array of fishing opportunities amidst breathtaking landscapes.

In this blog post, we’ll explore the top Oklahoma rivers that cater to anglers of all skill levels, whether you’re a seasoned pro or a beginner looking for your next great catch. We include recommendations for how to catch your favorite species too!

Let’s dive in and discover the exceptional fishing experiences that await you in the Sooner State.

5 Best Oklahoma Rivers to Fish

Without further ado, here are some awesome fishing holes to check out.

Lower Mountain Fork River, Oklahoma

#1 Lower Mountain Fork River

This river is located in southeastern Oklahoma and is renowned for its year-round trout fishing. The clear, cold waters of the Lower Mountain Fork River provide the perfect habitat for rainbow and brown trout. The river is stocked regularly, ensuring an abundance of fish for anglers. The beautiful scenery and variety of fishing spots make it a must-visit destination for fishing enthusiasts.

Lower Illinois River, Oklahoma

#2 Lower Illinois River

The Lower Illinois River is another premier trout fishing location in Oklahoma. Located near Gore, this river offers both stocked rainbow trout and wild brown trout. The constant flow of cold water from the Tenkiller Ferry Dam creates a suitable environment for trout to thrive. The Lower Illinois River also has accessible fishing areas, making it an ideal spot for anglers of all experience levels.

Blue River, Oklahoma

#3 Blue River

The Blue River, situated near Tishomingo, is a popular spot for seasonal trout fishing in Oklahoma. The river is stocked with rainbow trout from November through March, providing a great winter fishing experience. In addition to trout, anglers can also find smallmouth bass, catfish, and sunfish in this scenic river. The clear waters and picturesque surroundings make the Blue River a memorable fishing destination.

Canadian River, Oklahoma

#4 Canadian River

The Canadian River is a favorite among catfish anglers in Oklahoma. Stretching across the state, this river offers a variety of fishing spots that are home to flathead, channel, and blue catfish. Anglers can also find other species, such as smallmouth bass and crappie, in certain sections of the river. The Canadian River’s diverse fish populations and numerous access points make it an attractive option for fishing enthusiasts.

Arkansas River, Oklahoma

#5 Arkansas River

The Arkansas River flows through Oklahoma, offering ample opportunities for fishing. Anglers can find a variety of species in this river, including catfish, bass, crappie, and sand bass. The Arkansas River’s wide range of habitats, such as sandbars, backwaters, and deep pools, attracts various fish species and offers diverse fishing experiences. The river’s accessibility and abundance of fish make it a top choice for Oklahoma anglers.

10 Oklahoma River Fishing Tips & Recommendations

Fishing in Oklahoma can be a rewarding experience with the right knowledge and approach. Here are some pro tips to help you make the most of your fishing adventure in the state:

  1. Know the regulations: Familiarize yourself with the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation’s fishing regulations for the specific body of water you plan to fish, including size limits, catch limits, and gear restrictions. These regulations help ensure a sustainable fishery for future generations.
  1. Choose the right gear: Use appropriate equipment for the target species and fishing conditions. For example, light to medium-light spinning or fly-fishing gear is suitable for targeting trout, while heavier equipment may be needed for larger species like catfish or bass.
  1. Match the hatch: Pay attention to the insects and other forage in the area, and try to use flies or lures that imitate the prevalent food sources. Popular fly patterns in Oklahoma include nymphs, emergers, dry flies, and streamers, depending on the season and conditions.
  1. Study the water: Fish often hold in specific areas, such as seams between fast and slow currents, behind rocks, or in deep pools. Spend some time observing the water and identifying likely holding spots before casting your line.
  1. Be stealthy: Many fish species have excellent eyesight and can be spooked easily. Approach your fishing spot quietly, wear drab or camouflage clothing, and avoid casting a shadow over the water.
  1. Learn proper presentation: In fly-fishing, presentation is key. Practice your casting technique to achieve a natural, drag-free drift that mimics the movement of the insects fish feed on.
  1. Fish early or late: Fish are often more active during the early morning or late afternoon, so plan your fishing trips accordingly. Additionally, overcast days can be productive as fish are less wary when the sun is not shining brightly.
  1. Be patient and persistent: It may take some time to locate fish or entice a bite, so be patient and try various techniques, presentations, or locations until you find success.
  1. Learn from locals: Don’t hesitate to ask local anglers, tackle shops, or guides for advice on the best spots, techniques, or lure patterns for the specific body of water in Oklahoma. They often have invaluable knowledge gained from years of experience fishing in the area.
  1. Practice catch and release: To help maintain the health of the fishery, consider practicing catch and release. Use barbless hooks, handle fish gently, and release them back into the water as quickly as possible.

Best Bait & Lures

Here is a list of bait and lure recommendations for various fish species commonly found in Oklahoma rivers:

Rainbow Trout

Rainbow Trout:

Natural baits: Worms, salmon eggs, and live minnows.

Artificial lures: Inline spinners, small spoons, and soft plastic worms.

Flies: Woolly buggers, nymphs, and dry flies (e.g., Adams, Elk Hair Caddis).

Brown Trout

Brown Trout:

Natural baits: Nightcrawlers, crayfish, and minnows.

Artificial lures: Crankbaits, inline spinners, and small jigs.

Flies: Streamers (e.g., Muddler Minnow, Sculpin), nymphs, and dry flies (e.g., Blue Wing Olive, Pale Morning Dun).

Smallmouth Bass

Smallmouth Bass:

Natural baits: Crayfish, minnows, and worms.

Artificial lures: Soft plastic baits (e.g., tubes, grubs, worms), spinnerbaits, crankbaits, and topwater lures.

Sand Bass

Sand Bass (White Bass):

Natural baits: Minnows and shad.

Artificial lures: Jigs, spoons, inline spinners, and small crankbaits.

Catfish

Catfish (general):

Natural baits: Nightcrawlers, cut bait (e.g., shad, herring, skipjack), chicken liver, and stink baits.

Sunfish

Sunfish:

Natural baits: Worms, mealworms, crickets, and small minnows.

Artificial lures: Small jigs, inline spinners, and tiny soft plastics.

Crappie

Crappie:

Natural baits: Minnows and small insects.

Artificial lures: Small jigs (e.g., tube jigs, curly tail grubs, marabou jigs), small crankbaits, and inline spinners.

In Closing

Equipped with proper know-how and techniques, fishing in Oklahoma can prove to be a gratifying and fulfilling endeavor.

Please note that our recommendations are general guidelines, and the specific bait or lure choice may vary depending on local conditions and personal preferences. Experimenting with different options and asking for advice from local anglers can help you find the most effective bait and lure choices for each species in Oklahoma rivers.

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