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Oklahoma Anglers Unlimited,
Open and Ready for Business

In years past, when anglers gathered around the back of a bass boat in a motel parking lot, or at the spinner-bait counter at a local tackle store they would talk fishing. Their conversations always seemed to gravitate from what color the bass were biting to more important and meaningful conversations. Some even talked politics, the politics of fisheries management, anglers’ rights, environmental issues and even biology. Mostly the conversations started out with general discussions and ended in unanswered questions, like why tournament weights were down from years past or where all the big bass have gone.

In general they all asked the same questions concerning why the quality of Oklahoma fishing seemed to get worse and worse with the passing of each year.

Recently a handful of dedicated anglers have begun to listen to the questions and search for answers. It has become clear that someone is needed to facilitate and organize support and encouragement for multiple species sport-fishing in Oklahoma. It is essential for a voice to support and guard all anglers’ rights, including the right to fish competitively. Likewise, it is imperative to stimulate public awareness of competitive angling as a major sport. The public requires education regarding the positive economic impact of competitive angling at the national, state and local levels. It is crucial that the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation receive feedback, input and assistance. It is necessary to promote the full adherence to conservation codes and industry accepted practices, which impact the sport of fishing. There is a critical need to support and demand adequate water quality standards, fisheries habitat and fisheries resource management in Oklahoma. 

Furthermore, there has to be a demand for unfettered, responsible access to all public waters and facilities that have been built, supported or otherwise funded, in whole or in part, using public funds. There is a critical need for someone to detect and report polluters or violators of wildlife conservation laws and to publicly expose violators focusing political attention on such violations. There is the necessity to promote and encourage fishing and a love for this great recreation to the young citizens of the Sooner state.

The Oklahoma Anglers Unlimited (OAU) is a newly formed organization that can speak with one voice for a broad-based, statewide population of anglers and rally support when necessary. The OAU was birthed by a handful of dedicated men and women who are passionate about better fishing in Oklahoma. Robert Cartlidge, OAU Chairman proclaims, “It’s just another example of how fishermen in general, and especially competitive anglers, are willing to give something back, by coming together to work for the good of our sport.” The OAU has filed with the Oklahoma Secretary of State and has been granted a not-for-profit, tax-exempt status by the IRS. The OAU’s newly elected Board of Directors (BOD) is a virtual list of who’s who in the Oklahoma fishing circles. The Board includes Carl Woods, Lonnie Snodgrass, Stan Honeycutt, Doss Briggs, Bob Harrell, Dave Roush, and Robert Cartlidge. In addition to the Board of Directors, attorney Keith Ham of Bristow, Oklahoma will serve as Treasurer\ Executive Secretary. Ms. Brenda Smith will serve as recording Secretary and prominent OKC attorney Floyd Taylor will serve as OAU’s General Counsel.

The OAU is now open for business. Open for business means serving the fishermen and women of Oklahoma. The OAU is putting action behind their words and has already served in a number of projects including the Lake Texoma Project. The Texoma Project was a joint venture between the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife and Conservation and the Texas Parks and Wildlife to study the effects of the Large Mouth Virus. OAU members were the first to step forward and volunteer to assist biologist in the study.

Another project recently on the OAU agenda was the Lake Hudson Shoreline Management Project. During public meetings held in October, OAU representatives were present to participate in discussions regarding this eastern Oklahoma reservoir. A number of issues were discussed including Lake Hudson re-licensing, permitting and construction methods of boat docks or marinas, habitat improvement and water quality. In addition, the concerns of the lack of law enforcement at the lake and inadequate river channel markings were discussed. Finally the lack of public facilities and the protocol for fishing tournament permit allocation was discussed. Another public meeting will be held on January 22nd; the OAU will be present and encourages all interested parties to attend. Contact the OAU for the meeting time and location. 

The OAU is building two live release fish hauling trailers, one in cooperation with Ivan Martin, owner of Martin Landing (the first Corporate Sponsor of OAU) on Grand Lake. The second comes from Morton Marine in Owasso. Rod Morton of Morton Marine contacted OAU Vice Chairman Dave Roush about building a fish release trailer. Morton said, "With the many tournaments we are involved in we wanted to do everything possible to protect the resource. I contacted the ODWC thru Dave and we decided this would be a great idea for everyone involved. We wanted to promote catch and release in the best way possible. Morton Marine will fully fund this project and OAU members will donate the labor and time to build the trailer.” Morton Marine is committed to becoming an OAU Corporate Sponsor in 2004. Both trailers are scheduled for completion in time for the 2004 spring fishing season.

The OAU recently resolved a dispute between a bass Tournament Director and a Grand River Dam Authority Lake Patrolman on Lake Hudson. The OAU was contacted and the issue was assigned to OAU Vice-Chairman Dave Roush to investigate. Roush contacted the proper personnel with the GRDA and discussed the concerns. According to Roush, “They [GRDA] were very helpful and the GRDA personnel have assured me that this issue would not happen again. The issue was resolved with the OAU stepping in and getting it done." Both parties involved decided to put the matter behind them and move on. 

The OAU is working closely with the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife and Conservation (ODWC). OAU representatives recently met with the regional ODWC Fisheries Biologist in OKC. They discussed the goals of the OAU, and how the OAU can effectively help with issues, provide valuable support and feedback for the betterment of the sport. OAU Chairman Robert Cartlidge, has been selected by the OWDC Director, Greg Duffy, to serve on a new OWDC Advisory Committee. The purpose of this new committee is to help develop a new comprehensive Wildlife Conservation Strategy between now and October 2005. The new Committee will address all of Oklahoma’s fish and wildlife needs using a habitat approach rather than a species-by-species management approach. 

Other projects that are being implemented include the OAU Advisory Board which is currently meeting weekly. Led by Flint Kyler, Advisory Board Chairman, the Advisory Board consists of 21 OAU members each assigned responsibility for different lakes in their region. Any angler, having a concern regarding a specific lake should contact the Advisory Board Member assigned to the lake in question. Anglers need not be an OAU member to raise an issue with the Advisory Board. The Advisory Board Member will present the issue to the voting members of the Advisory Board who in turn may vote to bring the concern to the Board of Directors where each concern is evaluated and prioritized for possible OAU action.

What’s next for the OAU? Growth is a high priority. The OAU is looking for members and those willing to get involved. At the OKC BASS Pro Shop grand opening, the OAU hosted a booth during the Conservation Night Gala and media event. The focuses were to sign-up new members and educate the public about the OAU and its purpose. In a fund raising effort, OAU volunteers and board members cooked and served nearly 400 brauts to eager Bass Pro Shop customers. Bass Pro Shops founder, Johnnie Morris offered his support and bought a braut…..for $100.00! Look for OAU booths at up coming tackle and boat shows.

There is a great demand for member volunteers for the Fundraising Committee. Likewise, the OAU wants the input of Oklahoma fishermen and women. According to Cartlidge, “The OAU wants to hear the ideas and concerns of all anglers in Oklahoma. The more members we have the more the OAU will able to accomplish.” For more information about the OAU visit their website at www.oauinfo.org, contact any board/advisory member via phone or email as listed on the web page or call Rick Nolan direct at 405-485-9545. .





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