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Small lakes shine in spring surveys

Bigger is not always better - at least when it comes to lakes. Little lakes can offer some great bass fishing, according to the 2003 spring electrofishing data recently released by the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation.

“When many anglers think of going fishing, they think of some of the state’s large reservoirs, but there are some really nice bass fishing opportunities available in many of the small lakes around Oklahoma,” said Kim Erickson, fisheries chief for the Wildlife Department. “One of the nice things about these smaller bodies of water is the fact that you can access them with a small boat, fishing tube or even from the bank.”

Ever heard of Bixhoma, Garrison Creek, Longmire, or Taylor lakes? If not you may want to grab a map and your favorite fishing pole and head out for a fishing trip this weekend. According to the electrofishing survey, these lakes, as well as several others, offer healthy bass populations that are just waiting for the enterprising angler.

In lakes under 1,000 acres, Bixhoma Lake, near Bixby, scored tops in the total of number of bass per hour with 143 bass per hour. The only ten-pound bass in the survey also was recorded in the northeast Oklahoma lake.

Coming in second was Taylor Lake in Grady County near Rush Springs, which produced 131 bass per hour during this year's electrofishing bass surveys. Greenleaf Lake near Muskogee ranked third with 112 bass per hour. Ranking fourth was Holdenville Lake in Hughes County (104 per hour). Garrison Creek Lake located near Roland (93 bass per hour), rounded out the top five. This 65-acre Sequoyah County reservoir was impounded just three  years ago.

If you're interested in big bass, there are plenty of small lakes with big bass in the Sooner state. As part of the electrofishing survey, biologists keep track of the number of bass over 14 inches recorded for each hour of electrofishing. Along with the top five lakes in overall bass numbers, Elmer Lake near Kingfisher, Longmire Lake near Pauls Valley and Durant Lake in south-central Oklahoma all recorded high marks in the number of bass over 14 inches.

Data from the springtime bass survey is divided between that collected from lakes larger than 1,000 acres, and lakes smaller than 1,000 acres. The data is used to determine the health and trends of individual bass fisheries. Regional fisheries management personnel capture bass using electrofishing equipment, then they weigh and measure each fish before releasing them back into the water unharmed. The information helps biologists determine which lakes benefit from specialized management techniques such as length and slot limits.

The Department rates a lake as high quality when it produces more than 15 bass over 14 inches per hour of electrofishing. Quality lakes yield more than 10 bass over 14 inches per hour of electrofishing, and those which produce fewer than 10 per hour are considered below average.

In terms of total numbers of bass per hour, lakes that yield more than 60 bass of any size per hour are rated as high quality. Those producing 40 bass or more per hour are considered "quality" lakes, and less than 40 per
hour are considered below average.

Variations in electrofishing catch rates can result from lake conditions at the time of sampling or from changes in reproduction, recruitment, growth and mortality caused by habitat alteration, environmental impacts, food fish production, disease or angling pressure. All fish collected by biologists through electrofishing are weighed, measured and released unharmed.