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Wildlife and Anglers

Monday, 02 January 2017 18:16

Public Hearings Set for Proposed New Rules

Members of the public will have several opportunities soon to voice their concerns in person about proposed changes in the administrative rules that govern hunting, fishing and operation of the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation.

Two public hearings are scheduled:

Oklahoma City: 7 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 5, 2017, at Wildlife Department interim headquarters, 2145 NE 36th St.
Afton: 7 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 10, 2017, Northeast Technology Center auditorium, 19901 U.S. 69.
Citizens are invited to attend and share their comments on the proposed rule changes. All comments are recorded and reviewed by the Oklahoma Wildlife Conservation Commission before any action is taken on the rule change proposals.

If approved, the proposals will change the state’s Title 800. Public comments on the proposed rule changes are being received now through 4:30 p.m. Jan. 12, 2017.

Many proposed changes for 2017 are simple housekeeping matters, while some are more substantial. Highlights of this year's rule change proposals include:
Close snagging from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. in areas east of Interstate 35 and north of Interstate 40 except a portion of the Neosho River along Miami City Park from the State Highway 125 bridge to the southern boat ramp, which shall remain open.

Allow deer hunters to use a leashed tracking dog to help locate downed deer after obtaining game warden permission, provided the hunters have no means-of-take on their person while tracking.
Change deer archery season on Love Valley and Hickory Creek wildlife management areas to run the same dates as the statewide season.

Add Oklahoma Land Access Program (OLAP) regulations for walk-in hunting, fishing and stream access. OLAP is a program in development that will lease lands for public fishing and hunting access. New rules specific to OLAP are necessary to administer the program and enforce regulations.

To read all of the proposed rule changes, go to www.wildlifedepartment.com/public-meeting.
But don’t worry if you are not able to attend one of the public hearings. The Department provides two additional ways for citizens to share their opinions -– in support or against -– the rule change proposals.

Comments may be submitted via the Internet. Fill out the online public comment form at wildlifedepartment.com. Online public comment period will close at 4:30 p.m. Jan. 12, 2017.
Also, comments may be submitted in a letter. Mail your letter to Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation, Re: Public Comment, P.O. Box 53465, Oklahoma City, OK 73152. Letters must be received by 4:30 p.m. Jan. 12, 2017.

Monday, 02 January 2017 17:23

Fishing Report for the New Year

CENTRAL

Hefner: December 27. Elevation below normal, water 47 and clear. Crappie, white bass and walleye slow on minnows and jigs along riprap. Channel catfish fair on cut bait along riprap. Largemouth bass slow on jerk baits and jigs around points and riprap. Report submitted by Lucky Lure Tackle.

NORTHEAST

Ft. Gibson: December 26. Elevation below normal, water 48 and clear. Crappie good on minnows, tube jigs and Wally Marshall salt-and-pepper twintails at 22-28 ft. around brush structure. Blue, channel and flathead catfish good on live shad and Carolina-rigged shad at 20-30 ft. in the river channel. White bass fair on live shad and Carolina-rigged shad with ½ ounce sinkers along deep holes in the river channel north of Big Hollow. Report submitted by Rick Stafford, Wagoner.

Keystone: December 27. Elevation normal, water clear. Crappie fair on minnows, jigs and tube jigs around brush structure, docks, standing timber and heated docks. Striped and white bass fair on live shad around points and humps in the main lake. Blue and channel catfish fair on cut bait and live bait in the main lake. Report submitted by Dwight Luther, game warden stationed in Creek County.

Lower Illinois: December 25. Elevation normal, water 55 and clear. Trout fair on in-line spinnerbaits, PowerBait and small lures below the dam, along channels, the dam, river channel and tailwater. Report submitted by Jerry Henry, game warden stationed in Sequoyah County.

Perry CCC: December 27. Elevation normal, water murky. Trout good on in-line spinnerbaits, PowerBait, small lures and salmon eggs in the main lake and along shorelines. Report submitted by Doug Gottschalk, game warden stationed in Noble County.

Sooner: December 27. Elevation normal, water clear. Striped bass hybrids and striped bass fair on live shad, sassy shad and slabs in the discharge and main lake. Blue catfish fair on cut bait in the main lake. Report submitted by Doug Gottschalk, game warden stationed in Noble County.

NORTHWEST

Ft. Supply: December 27. Elevation below normal, water clear. White bass fair on jigs along the dam. Report submitted by Mark Reichenberger, game warden stationed in Woodward County.

SOUTHEAST

Blue River: December 27. Elevation normal, water 45 and clear. Trout good on caddis flies, in-line spinnerbaits, spoons, Frenchies, zebra midges, Woolly Buggers and yellow garlic scented PowerBait along rocks, sandbars, below riffles and obstructions in current in deeper water. Stocked approximately 3,000 rainbow trout on December 21. Channel catfish good on chicken liver, punch bait and stinkbait along channels, creek channels and sandbars. Report submitted by Matt Gamble, biologist at the Blue River Public Fishing and Hunting Area.

Eufaula: December 25. Elevation below normal, water clear. Crappie fair on minnows and jigs around docks and standing timber. Striped bass good on minnows and shad below the dam. Blue, channel and flathead catfish fair on cut bait and live shad along channels, the main lake and river channel. Report submitted by Terry Springwater, game warden stationed in McIntosh County.

Lower Mountain Fork: December 25. Elevation normal, water clear. Trout good on PowerBait below the dam, along creek channels and rocks. Report submitted by Mark Hannah, game warden stationed in McCurtain County.

Pine Creek: December 25. Elevation rising, water murky. Largemouth and spotted bass fair on crankbaits and plastic baits in coves. Channel and blue catfish good on cut bait, shrimp and stinkbait along channels, the main lake and standing timber. Crappie slow on jigs in the river channel. Report submitted by Mark Hannah, game warden stationed in McCurtain County.

Robert S. Kerr: December 25. Elevation normal, water murky. Largemouth and spotted bass fair on Alabama rigs, bill baits, lipless baits and plastic baits around brush structure, points and rocks. Crappie fair on minnows and jigs around brush structure, channels and the inlet. Report submitted by Allen Couch, game warden stationed in Haskell County.

Texoma: December 27. Elevation normal, water stained. Striped and white bass fair on flukes, live shad and topwater lures below the dam, in the main lake and around points. Blue and channel catfish fair on cut bait, punch bait and shad in the main lake, around points and the river mouth. Crappie fair on minnows and jigs around brush structure, in coves, the main lake and standing timber. Report submitted by Cody Jones, game warden stationed in Bryan County.

SOUTHWEST

Ellsworth: December 25. Elevation below normal, water murky. Crappie fair on minnows and jigs around brush structure and docks. Blue and channel catfish fair on cut bait, punch bait and shad in the main lake and around points. Report submitted by Mike Carroll, game warden stationed in Comanche County.

Lawtonka: December 25. Elevation below normal, water clear. Crappie slow on minnows and jigs around brush structure and docks. Report submitted by Mike Carroll, game warden stationed in Comanche County.

Tom Steed: December 27. Elevation normal, water 40. Blue catfish slow on cut bait and punch bait in the main lake. Report submitted by David Smith, game warden stationed in Kiowa County.

Waurika: December 25. Elevation normal, water murky. Blue and channel catfish good on cut bait and stinkbait in the main lake. Report submitted by Chris Stover, game warden stationed in Stephens County.

By Derek Wiley, Upland Game Biologist

As summer turns to fall, successful broods from this year's Northern bobwhite hatch begin to disperse and organize into coveys. This movement is known as the "fall shuffle." Understanding why and when this occurs can give hunters an edge when deciding on their opening-morning spot or planning future habitat management. 

    When undergoing "fall shuffle," quail are looking for long-term food sources and suitable cover that are close to each other. This is important, as maintaining a close distance between the two lessens the chances of predation occurring. Habitat requirements for wintering bobwhites are a little bit different than the requirements for the spring and summer breeding season. Woody cover has become paramount, both for protection from the elements as well as predation. Woody cover also provides the covey an area used for loafing cover when not feeding. Covey headquarters normally has canopy cover with an open understory, which may be provided by vegetation such as shinnery oak, plum thickets, lotebush or skunkbush. Brush piles do not provide this cover. 
    Many land managers have lamented the fall shuffle and the subsequent loss of birds it seems to bring. There will be some unavoidable losses of young birds following the end of nesting season; however, not all birds, or even a majority, will perish. Harvest ratios tend to indicate that 70 percent to 80 percent of birds harvested each year are juvenile birds hatched that year. If your winter habitat is not up to snuff, birds will vacate the area and move to greener pastures, so to speak. Quail are not a migratory species by any stretch, as most movements are short. But they will relocate to find the habitat needed to survive. When studying quail with radio telemetry, researchers have often had to use aircraft to locate the birds, with movement into adjacent counties and beyond not uncommon.
    Going out and conducting fall covey counts on your property can help you pinpoint where coveys are located on your place and see for yourself the habitat they are using. Go online to wildlifedepartment.com/outdoor-news/landowners-can-survey-learn-about-quail-numbers for a previous Upland Update that provided an excellent blueprint for performing fall covey counts on your property. Covey counts can give you a leg up on where to hunt and planning possible routes for having the wind at your dog's favor, with the added benefit of estimating the number of coveys on the land you are hunting.

By Kyle Johnson, Quail Habitat Biologist

Spend any time afield during a quail hunt and it's inevitable that a hunter will eventually break open a quail crop (craw) to see the food contents inside. That's exactly what Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation (ODWC) biologists did during Oklahoma's 2015-16 quail hunting season when more than 700 quail crops were analyzed throughout the majority of the state. Although a bobwhite's seasonal use of foods can vary, having a general knowledge of food resources, especially high use foods, can be valuable when it comes to making management decisions.

Overall, insects, fruits, weed seeds, and green vegetation (leaves, stems) made up the bulk of the hunting season (Nov. 14-Feb. 15) diet, but the quantities of each varied by region. Of the weed seeds, western ragweed, slickseed fuzzybean, whitemouth dayflower, thin paspalum, croton, sunflower, panic grass, and lespedeza were all readily eaten foods. In addition, woody fruits and nuts including hackberry and oak acorns were important dietary items. Other woody seeds eaten in much lower quantities include poison ivy and ash.
Although weed seeds and fruits generally make up a substantial portion of the fall and winter diet of a bobwhite, the spring and summer diets can be quite different. Green leaves and stems of low growing forbs such as clovers can end up contributing a major portion of the diet. Although this green vegetation is low in overall energy, it does provide quail some needed protein as well as water. Insects also make up a very large portion of the spring and summer diet, especially as hens prepare to nest. Young quail chicks must have a protein-rich insect diet for optimum growth and health. Despite the quail hunting season falling during the fall and winter months, green vegetation and insects were still a prominent portion of the quail diet within the many quail crops that were analyzed (see table). Of insects, stink bugs, grasshoppers, ants, and numerous beetle species were all readily eaten food items.

Overall, more than 130 different weed seeds or fruits were identified by biologists during the 2015-16 quail food habit investigation, including some which had not been documented in the diet of quail during other studies. As many as 21 different weed seed species were observed within a single quail crop, emphasizing the importance of providing diverse habitats for quail. Although agricultural grains are common across Oklahoma's landscape, whether in fields or from feeders, wheat, milo and corn combined were only observed within 4.3 percent of the quail crops that were examined and only made up 6.3 percent of the total food volume. Based on this investigation and many others, managing for diverse, native habitats, including grasslands and weed-dominated areas, all interspersed within and adjacent to patches of woody shrub cover will provide the year-round food resources for quail whether it be from green vegetation, insects, weed seeds, or fruits. Having these important habitat types in close proximity is also important when it comes to quail management.

For questions about improving habitat for bobwhites, including free habitat evaluations, call Kyle Johnson, quail habitat biologist, at (405) 684-1929 or read the Oklahoma Quail Habitat Guide on the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation website, www.wildlifedepartment.com.

Opening day of dove hunting season is just days away. As sportsmen and sportswomen prepare their camo, shotguns and decoys for this season, the Wildlife Department reminds hunters to make sure they have the required licenses, permits and certifications allowing them to hunt before going afield.WildlifeLicense

"An expired license is an easy thing to overlook by mistake," said Mike Chrisman, license section supervisor for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation. "Most annual hunting licenses for residents expire on the last day of the year. And sometimes, people will forget that the old license in their wallet is out of date."
License and permit revenues form the backbone of funding for the Wildlife Department's fish and wildlife conservation and management activities. The Wildlife Department receives no general tax appropriations from the state.

"The annual resident hunting or fishing license costs just $25, and that price has remained the same for many years," Chrisman said. "Every time you buy a license, you are helping fund conservation activities that improve hunting and fishing across Oklahoma."

Hunting seasons that will open soon include dove on Sept. 1; teal and resident Canada goose, Sept. 10; rabbit, Oct. 1; and archery seasons for deer, elk, turkey, antelope and black bear, Oct. 1.

WildlifeBoxTo find out which hunting licenses, permits and certifications are required when in the field and who is exempt from specific licenses or permits, consult the 2016-17 Oklahoma Hunting & Fishing Regulations Guide online at wildlifedepartment.com/laws_regs.htm or in print wherever hunting and fishing licenses are sold.

In addition, license reference guides are online at wildlifedepartment.com/ license/resident.pdf for state resident hunters, and wildlifedepartment.com/license/nonresidentlicense.pdf for nonresident hunters. And most hunters ages 10-30 are required to be hunter education-certified unless designated as an apprentice.
Hunters and anglers who buy licenses have helped bring back wild turkey populations rivaling those found here around the turn of the 20th century. License revenue helped bring fish species to the state that our fathers could only dream about: striped bass, saugeye, trout and hybrid striped bass. And the Department's deer management programs, paid for with license revenues, have garnered national honors and produced annual deer harvests around 90,000 in the past several years.

All required hunting licenses and permits are available at the Wildlife Department's online License Counter at wildlifedepartment.com/licensing. Licenses are also sold by hundreds of authorized vendors across the state.
Sales of resident lifetime, senior citizen lifetime and disabled veteran lifetime licenses require additional paperwork and are only sold at Wildlife Department headquarters or by mail. Anyone needing to buy a license in person can visit the Wildlife Department's Oklahoma City temporary headquarters, 2145 N.E. 36th St. For more information, call the License Section at (405) 521-3852.

A Women in the Outdoors event scheduled June 11 at the Arcadia Conservation Education Area is a women-only program. WITO is hosted by the National Wild Turkey Federation, Eastern Oklahoma County Strutters chapter. Expert instructors will teach outdoor skills related to hunting, camping, fishing, and anything outdoors.

WITOWITO events provide women an opportunity to pull back a bow and arrow, learn how to paddle a kayak, target shoot, or try their hand at basket weaving and more.

"This program helps women experience new outdoor adventures, offering training classes in areas like fly fishing and Dutch oven cooking, which were my favorite last year when I attended the event. It gives women the opportunity to try new outdoor sports that they may not have the opportunity to do otherwise, " said Whitney Jenkins, Information and Education technician for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation.

This program is a hands-on, educational outdoor opportunity for girls and women ages 14 and older. Space is limited. The cost to attend the event is $65, which includes a one-year subscription to "Turkey Country" magazine and a one-year membership to the National Wild Turkey Federation. Equipment, breakfast and lunch are provided.

To register complete the registration form and mail it in to the address provided. For more information you can also contact Shari Wile at (405) 401-6966.

Participant in the Women in the Outdoors event learning how to cook using Dutch ovens. (Whitney Jenkins/ODWC)

Victories against the Obama regulatory juggernaut are rare, and thus all the more worthy of note. Congratulations, then, to Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt and Republicans in Congress over the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s decision on May 10 to drop its quest to list the lesser prairie chicken as an endangered species.

Fish and Wildlife’s decision in 2014 to list was never about helping that particular range bird. It was part of an attempted federal land grab by green activists. Using a strategy called “sue and settle,” these groups propose species for protected status under the Endangered Species Act, then sue the Obama Administration to follow through. The agency then settles the suits on terms that the greens want.

Their goal in the case of the prairie chicken was to impose development restrictions on private landowners in five western states. Because the prairie chicken’s range is so wide, the greens hoped to shut down oil and gas drilling in much of the West, especially and around the fossil-fuel rich Permian Basin.

Mr. Pruitt (joined by four other states) sued, arguing that Fish and Wildlife had ignored years of cooperation between states and landowners to develop a voluntary and successful plan for conservation. Federal Judge Robert Junell agreed in September and vacated the listing, and the Administration has now decided not to appeal. House Republicans also fought the illegal listing with policy riders to spending bills.

The biggest beneficiary is the prairie chicken, which has a far better chance of revival under cooperative private stewardship than it does under the coercive methods of a federal bureaucracy.

Wednesday, 04 May 2016 14:28

Oklahoma Fishing Report for May

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Dalyn Figgins of Ulysses, Kansas caught the new lake record striped bass at Canton Lake on April 30. The fish weighed in at 33.3 pounds beating the previous record by 9.2 pounds.

CENTRAL
 
Arcadia: May 2. Elevation slightly above normal, water 64 and murky. Crappie good on minnows and jigs at 2-5 ft. along riprap. Bass good on swim baits and square bill baits at 3-5 ft. Channel and blue catfish fair on punch bait and cut shad near rocky points and the draw down on the dam. White bass good on in-line spinnerbaits near boat ramps and along the dam. Report submitted by Mark Murray, game warden stationed in Oklahoma County.

Draper: May 1. Elevation below normal, water 66 and stained. Crappie and white bass fair on minnows and jigs along docks and shorelines. Channel and blue catfish fair on cut bait and shad at the inlet. Report submitted by Chad Strang, game warden stationed in Cleveland County.

Hefner: May 3. Elevation above normal, water 66-68 and murky. Largemouth bass good on plastic baits and spinnerbaits along shorelines. White bass and striped bass hybrids good on grubs, minnows and sassy shad along shorelines and docks. Crappie good on minnows and jigs around docks. Channel and blue catfish fair on punch bait and dough bait along riprap. Walleye slow on lipless baits along shorelines. Report submitted by Lucky Lure Tackle.

Overholser: May 2. Elevation above normal, water murky to muddy. Blue and channel catfish slow on live bait, cut bait and chicken liver in the main lake, along shorelines and discharge. Striped bass hybrids and white bass slow on crawfish, cut bait, jigs and chicken liver along shorelines, riprap and the main lake. Crappie slow on minnows and jigs around docks and brush structure. Carp fair on dough bait and worms along the discharge and shallows. Report submitted by Vince Mesis, game warden stationed in Oklahoma County.

Thunderbird: May 1. Elevation above normal, water 66 and stained. Crappie and white bass fair on minnows and jigs along docks and shorelines. Saugeye fair on crankbaits and sassy shad around points and flats. Channel and blue catfish slow on cut bait and shad along the river channel. Report submitted by Chad Strang, game warden stationed in Cleveland County

Wes Watkins: May 2. Elevation above normal, water 65 and cloudy. Channel and blue catfish fair on chicken liver along creek channels and points. All other fishing slow. Report submitted by Mike France, game warden stationed in Pottawatomie County.
 
NORTHEAST
 
Bell Cow: May 1. Elevation above normal, water muddy. Crappie good on minnows, small lures and jigs along docks, riprap and boat ramps. White bass fair on small lures along riprap. Largemouth bass good on minnows, in-line spinnerbaits, small lures and plastic baits along weed beds, shorelines and rocks. Channel catfish slow on cut bait and chicken liver along shorelines. Report submitted by Gary Emmons, game warden stationed in Lincoln County.

Birch : May 2. Elevation normal, water mid-60s and murky. Spotted and largemouth bass fair on spinnerbaits around standing timber and rocks. Crappie slow on minnows and jigs around docks and brush structure. Report submitted by Ryan Walker, game warden stationed in Osage County.

Carl Blackwell: May 4. Elevation dropping, water 64 and murky. Saugeye slow on crankbaits along shorelines. Crappie slow on tube jigs along shorelines. Report submitted by Emily Long, game warden stationed in Payne County.
 
Chandler: May 1. Elevation above normal, water murky. Crappie good on minnows and jigs around docks and the boat ramp. Channel catfish slow on cut bait and worms around docks and the dam. Largemouth bass good on topwater lures, buzz baits, plastic baits and spinnerbaits along coves and weed beds. Report submitted by Gary Emmons, game warden stationed in Lincoln County.
 
Copan: May 1. Elevation normal, water 60s and clearing. Crappie fair on minnows and jigs at 3-6 ft. around brush structure and along shorelines. Report submitted by Joe Alexander, game warden stationed in Washington County.

Eucha: May 1. Elevation normal, water 67. Largemouth bass fair on plastic baits and jigs along shorelines and coves. Crappie fair on minnows and jigs around brush structure and docks. Bluegill fair on crickets and worms along shorelines and docks. Report submitted by Kody Moore, game warden stationed in Delaware County.

Ft. Gibson: April 29. Elevation above normal, water 65 and stained. Crappie good on minnows, tube jigs and minnows at 1-4 ft. along brush structure and rocks. Paddlefish excellent below the dam. White bass fair on grubs and sassy shad below the dam and along the river channel. Report submitted by Rick Stafford, Ft. Gibson.

Grand: May 3. Elevation above normal, water 69 and slightly stained. Crappie excellent on GoGo minnows around docks and shallows. White bass excellent on GoGo minnows at the mouth of Elk River. Blue and channel catfish good on shad in mid to upper lake. Largemouth bass excellent on Kaboom lures along shorelines. Paddlefish fair at the mouth of the Neosho River. Report submitted by Marni Loftis, game warden stationed in Delaware County.

Greenleaf: May 3. Elevation 1/2 ft. above normal, water murky. Largemouth bass good on spinnerbaits, crankbaits and salt crawls in watermelon along shorelines, creek channels, brush structure and moss beds. Channel catfish fair on shad and fresh cut bait. Crappie fair on minnows and jigs at 4-8 ft. around brush structure. Report submitted by Lark Wilson, game warden stationed in Muskogee County.

Hudson: May 1. Elevation above normal, water 69. Paddlefish good at 8-15 ft. below the dam and along the river channel. White bass and crappie good on crankbaits, small lures and minnows at 3-10 ft. below the dam, along the river channel and creek channels. Largemouth bass good on buzz baits, topwater lures, spinnerbaits and crankbaits at 4-9 ft. around brush structure, standing timber and shorelines. Report submitted by Steve Loveland, game warden stationed in Mayes County.

Hulah: May 1. Elevation normal, water 60s and clearing. Crappie fair on minnows and jigs at 6-8 ft. around brush structure and the river channel. Report submitted by Joe Alexander, game warden stationed in Washington County.

Kaw: May 3. Elevation above normal, water 64. Paddlefish fair below the dam. Striped bass, striped bass hybrids and white bass fair on Alabama rigs, topwater lures and live bait below the dam. Blue, channel and flathead catfish excellent on crawfish, worms, sunfish and cut bait at 1-3 ft. along the river channel and river mouth. Crappie fair on minnows, jigs and tube jigs at 1-6 ft. along riprap, rocks and shorelines. Report submitted by Spencer Grace, game warden stationed in Kay County.

Keystone: May 2. Elevation above normal, water muddy. Blue catfish fair on cut bait along channels. Largemouth bass fair on spinnerbaits along shorelines. Report submitted by Karlin Bailey, game warden stationed in Creek County.
 
Lower Illinois: May 1. Elevation normal, water 55-60 and murky. Trout fair on worms and white PowerBait below the dam. Report submitted by Jeremy Bersche, game warden stationed in Sequoyah County.
 
Oologah: May 1. Elevation above normal, water 65 and murky. Crappie fair on minnows and jigs at 3-6 ft. around brush structure. Largemouth bass fair on plastic baits at 2-6 ft. around brush structure. Blue catfish good on cut bait and shad at 5-10 ft. along flats. Blue and channel catfish good on cut bait, shad and worms below the dam. Report submitted by Brek Henry, game warden stationed in Rogers County.
 
Skiatook: May 2. Elevation above normal, water low 60s and clear. Striped bass hybrids and white bass fair on live shad at 10-20 ft. in the main lake. Largemouth, smallmouth and spotted bass fair on spinnerbaits and plastic baits at 1-5 ft. along shorelines in the back of coves. Crappie fair on minnows and jigs at 5-10 ft. around brush structure. Report submitted by Paul Welch, game warden stationed in Osage County.

Sooner: May 2. Elevation normal, water clear. Striped bass hybrids slow on live shad in the main lake. Report submitted by Doug Gottschalk, game warden stationed in Noble County.

Spavinaw: May 1. Elevation normal, water 60s. Largemouth bass slow on plastic baits and jigs along coves and shorelines. Crappie fair on crickets and worms at 1-10 ft. along riprap, brush structure and docks. White bass fair on jigs and crankbaits along flats and up Spavinaw Creek. Report submitted by Kody Moore, game warden stationed in Delaware County.
 
Tenkiller: May 2. Elevation above normal, water 64-66 and clear. Largemouth, smallmouth and spotted bass fair on crankbaits, spinnerbaits and plastic baits at 2-10 ft. along coves, the main lake and around points. White bass good trolling deep running crankbaits in mid-lake to the upper end and on in-line spinnerbaits, hair jigs and spoons at 2-15 ft. off windy points and in the upper end. Crappie good trolling crankbaits in the main lake and on minnows, hair jigs and tube jigs at 2-15 ft. around docks, gravel banks and brush structure. Channel, blue and flathead catfish fair on cut bait and shrimp along deep flats and on punch bait and dough bait at 17-20 ft. off points. Bluegill slow on worms, hair jigs and tube jigs at 5-10 ft. along coves, points and docks. Report submitted by Monte Brooks, Cookson.
 
Webbers Falls: May 3. Elevation 3 ft. above normal, water murky. Largemouth bass fair on bright green spinnerbaits and crankbaits around brush structure, riprap and shorelines. Channel catfish good on fresh cut bait on bottom. Crappie fair on minnows and jigs at 4-8 ft. around brush structure. Report submitted by Lark Wilson, game warden stationed in Muskogee County.
 
NORTHWEST
 
Canton: April 30. Elevation normal, water clear. White bass and striped bass hybrids good on jigs and crankbaits at 4-12 ft. along riprap. Report submitted by Mark Walker, game warden stationed in Blaine County.

Ft. Supply: May 2. Elevation normal, water clear. Crappie fair on minnows and jigs around points and shallows. Report submitted by Mark Reichenberger, game warden stationed in Woodward County.
 
SOUTHEAST
 
Arbuckle: April 30. Elevation above normal, water 70 and stained. White bass, crappie and channel catfish good on flukes, lipless baits and spoons at 4-22 ft. along creek channels, in the main lake, around points and just outside Guy Sandy Wall; using the War Eagle spoon you will catch several species near bottom in 22 ft. of water. Crappie and sunfish good on 1/4 ounce jig with Bobbie Garland baits, jigs, small lures, tube jigs and spoons at 14-36 ft. around brush structure, rocks, the main lake and brush piles. Largemouth, smallmouth and spotted bass good on Alabama rigs, crankbaits, topwater lures, worms and buzz baits along coves, in the main lake and creek channels. Report submitted by Jack Melton.

Blue River: May 3. Elevation above normal, water 60 and murky. Channel catfish excellent on chicken liver, stinkbait and worms at 3-6 ft. along channels, rocks and brush structure. Stocked approximately 3,000 channel catfish on April 26. Smallmouth, largemouth and spotted bass slow on crankbaits around brush structure. All other fishing is slow due to high water. Report submitted by Matt Gamble, biologist at the Blue River Public Fishing and Hunting Area.
 
Broken Bow: May 1. Elevation above normal, water 64. Largemouth, smallmouth and spotted bass good on in-line spinnerbaits and flukes at 5 ft. around brush structure and shorelines. Crappie good on minnows, jigs and tube jigs at 4-10 ft. along coves, shallows and flats. Channel, blue and flathead catfish good on cut bait, worms, punch bait and live bait at 10-15 ft. along the river channel, creek channels and the river mouth. Report submitted by Dru Polk, game warden stationed in McCurtain County.

Eufaula: May 1. Elevation rising, water murky. Largemouth bass good on crankbaits, jerk baits and plastic baits around points and coves. White bass and crappie good on minnows, jigs and grubs below the dam, along creek channels and coves. Striped bass fair on Alabama rigs, hair jigs and flukes in white or other light colors below the dam. Flathead catfish good on live shad and sunfish below the dam and at the tailwater. Blue catfish excellent on shad, jigs and worms below the dam; with gates open cast into the current and let bait travel downstream. Report submitted by Cody Jones, game warden stationed in McIntosh County.  

Hugo: May 2. Elevation normal, water 66. Blue catfish slow on shad at 5-15 ft. below the dam. Crappie fair on minnows at 5-10 ft. along creek channels and standing timber. Largemouth bass fair on spinnerbaits and flukes at 2-10 ft. along shallows and brush structure. Report submitted by Jay Harvey, game warden stationed in Choctaw and Bryan counties.
 
Konawa: May 2. Elevation normal, water 63 and murky. Largemouth bass good on in-line spinnerbaits, sassy shad and plastic baits at 3-6 ft. in the discharge, along weed beds and coves. Channel catfish fair on chicken liver, worms, stinkbait and shad at 2-6 ft. in the discharge and along riprap. White bass fair on crankbaits, spoons, slabs and jigs at 4-10 ft. in the discharge, around points and creek channels. Report submitted by Tyler Howser, game warden stationed in Seminole County.
 
Lower Mountain Fork: May 1. Elevation above normal, water 62 and turbid. Trout fair on PowerBait along shallows and the river channel. Due to water releases, fishing has been hazardous. On Sunday, May 1st, the amount of discharge was decreased but anglers should be mindful of future discharges. Report submitted by Mark Hannah, game warden stationed in McCurtain County.

Lower Mountain Fork: April 26. Stocked approximately 1,900 rainbow trout on April 21. Report submitted by April Drake, secretary at the Southeast Regional Office.

McGee Creek: May 1. Elevation 6 ft. above normal, water 65 and murky. Largemouth and spotted bass good on jerk baits and spinnerbaits at 2-6 ft. along shorelines and weed beds. Crappie fair on minnows and jigs at 6-12 ft. around brush structure and docks. Report submitted by Larry Luman, game warden stationed in Atoka County.

Murray: May 1. Elevation above normal, water 61 and clear. Largemouth, smallmouth and spotted bass good on flukes, plastic baits and crankbaits at 4-12 ft. around points, rocks and weed beds. White bass fair on crankbaits, sassy shad, jigs and minnows at 5-15 ft. along coves, creek channels and points. Crappie fair on minnows, jigs, small lures and tube jigs at 4-12 ft. around brush structure, standing timber and docks. Channel catfish fair on chicken liver, worms, minnows and shad at 6-15 ft. along creek channels and in the main lake.  Report submitted by Jeremy Brothers, game warden stationed in Carter County.

Pine Creek: May 1. Elevation normal, water 68 and murky. Largemouth bass good on spinnerbaits, crankbaits and plastic baits around points and standing timber. Crappie fair on minnows and jigs around brush structure, creek channels and shallows. Channel catfish excellent on chicken liver and punch bait along coves and creek channels. Report submitted by Mark Hannah, game warden stationed in McCurtain County.
 
Robert S. Kerr: May 1. Elevation normal, water murky. Largemouth and spotted bass excellent on Alabama rigs, spinnerbaits and plastic baits along shorelines and coves. Blue and channel catfish excellent on cut bait, stinkbait and shad at the inlet and along creek channels. Crappie fair on minnows and jigs along shorelines and the inlet. Report submitted by Allen Couch, game warden stationed in Haskell County.

Sardis: May 1. Elevation above normal, water 69. Largemouth and spotted bass fair on crankbaits, spinnerbaits and worms at 4-10 ft. around brush structure, standing timber and points. Crappie good on minnows and jigs at 4-10 ft. around brush structure and standing timber. Blue and channel catfish fair on cut bait and shad at 10-14 ft. along channels and the main lake. Report submitted by Dane Polk, game warden stationed in Pushmataha County.
 
Texoma: April 28. Elevation 7 3/4 ft. above normal, water 72 and muddy. Most boat ramps are closed. Striped bass slow on live bait along creek channels.  Report submitted by Bob Wingo, game warden stationed in Bryan County.
 
Wister: May 1. Elevation 6 ft. above normal, water 67 and murky. Largemouth bass good on bill baits and spinnerbaits at 2-8 ft. around brush structure. Crappie excellent on minnows, jigs and Timmy Tom jig heads/BoneHead brush gliders in assorted colors at 2-6 ft. along brush structure and shorelines. Flathead catfish good on live bait at 8-14 ft. along the river channel. Report submitted by Randy Fennell, game warden stationed in Le Flore County.
 
SOUTHWEST
 
Ellsworth: May 1. Elevation above normal, water 67. White bass good on crawfish, spinnerbaits and small lures below the dam and along shorelines. Channel catfish fair on chicken liver and stinkbait below the dam and along channels. Report submitted by Michael Zimmerman, game warden stationed in Grady County.
 
Foss: May 1. Elevation 4 ft. below normal, water high 60s and clear. Walleye good on worms near rocks along the dam. Crappie fair on jigs around fishing docks. Striped bass hybrids fair on live bait drifting in deep water. Catfish fair on stinkbait and cut bait. White bass fair in the river. Report submitted by Eric Puyear, B & K Bait House.
 
Lawtonka: May 1. Elevation above normal, water 66. Smallmouth and largemouth bass good on bill baits and lipless baits along riprap and shorelines. Blue catfish good on crawfish and shrimp along channels and the main lake. Report submitted by Michael Zimmerman, game warden stationed in Grady County.
 
Tom Steed: May 2. Elevation above normal, water 56. Crappie slow on minnows and jigs at 8-10 ft. along rocks. Blue and channel catfish good on cut bait and stinkbait at 5-10 ft. along creek channels and flats. Report submitted by David Smith, game warden stationed in Kiowa County.
 
Waurika: May 2. Elevation normal, water 60. Blue and channel catfish good on cut bait and stinkbait in the main lake. Crappie slow on jigs around brush structure. Report submitted by Chris Stover, game warden stationed in Stephens County.

It's well known that northern bobwhites are resilient and innovative when it comes to replenishing their numbers. In addition to hens nesting two and often three times in a single season, male bobwhites also will sit on a nest and raise a brood of their own. Hens that successfully raise a brood early in the season will regularly try to re-nest and raise another. WildlifeQuail

Moreover, hens with chicks are known to abandon their brood to another adult once the chicks reach 20 to 30 days of age and re-nest while conditions may still be favorable. All of these strategies help quail populations overcome high nest predation rates and predation rates in general. But what can landowners do, if anything, to help tilt the balance of nest predation in the bobwhite's favor?

Studies throughout the United States have looked into quail nest predation, and the results are fairly consistent. While snakes and some bird species are among the culprits, mammals consistently are the top nest predators. Striped skunks, raccoons, opossums, coyotes, foxes, bobcats, armadillos, feral hogs and rodents have all been documented as predators of quail nests to some degree. Successful hatch rates of nesting quail can vary from 12 percent to 50 percent, with predators accounting for more than 80 percent of the losses.

While the specific numbers can vary depending on location, striped skunks, raccoons and opossums consistently rank high among quail nest predators. In certain locations, armadillos and feral hogs can affect the nests of ground-nesting birds, but research is limited to classify them as significant nest predators across the entirety of the bobwhite's range.

Fortunately, there are things that land managers and hunters can do to help minimize the loss of quail nests as well as other ground-nesting birds. Table 1 has a list of common problems affecting the bobwhite quail today with regard to nesting, and offers solutions for landowners and hunters to consider when making management decisions.

For more information about improving habitat for quail, call Scott Cox, senior upland game biologist, at (405) 301-9945; Kyle Johnson, quail restoration biologist, at (405) 684-1929; Doug Schoeling, private lands biologist for western Oklahoma, at (405) 590-2584; or RosaLee Walker, private lands biologist for eastern Oklahoma, at (918) 607-1518.

For more information about quail and their habitat needs in Oklahoma, check out the Oklahoma Quail Habitat Guide issue of "Outdoor Oklahoma"magazine (May/June 2013) as well as the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation website at wildlifedepartment.com.

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Northern bobwhites are highly susceptible to nest predation, but landowners can adopt practices to help protect quail nests. (wildlifedepartment.com)

Oklahoma Wildlife Conservation Commissioners unanimously approved a slate of regulation additions and changes during their regular meeting Feb. 1 at Quartz Mountain Resort Lodge in Lone Wolf.

The regulations, changes to Title 800 that governs the operations of the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation, were proposed in December and went through a public comment period in January. Among the most notable changes and additions are:

Legal shooting hours will close at 7 p.m. daily during spring turkey season on several wildlife management areas in western Oklahoma: Altus-Lugert, Beaver River, Beaver River-McFarland Unit, Black Kettle, Cimarron Bluff, Cimarron Hills, Cooper, Ellis County, Fort Supply, Optima, Packsaddle, Rita Blanca and Sandy Sanders. The rule is designed to reduce disruption as turkeys are returning to roosting sites.

The statewide bag limit for hybrid striped bass will be 20 per day with only five greater than 20 inches long allowed.
Harvest of largemouth bass at American Horse Lake will be the same as the statewide bag limits.

Rules for shooting ranges on WMAs are being clarified to address safety concerns. Among these rules are the requirement of eye and ear protection while shooting, shooters 15 and younger must be supervised by an adult, and shooters must possess a valid state hunting license or combination hunting-fishing license unless exempt.

The entire slate of rule changes and additions is pending approval by the State Legislature. They will likely become effective later this fall.

Also, Commissioners created a Feral Hog Subcommittee after viewing a presentation about feral hogs in Oklahoma and surrounding states by Jeff Pennington, central region supervisor in the Wildlife Division.

Feral hogs are now found in nearly every county of Oklahoma and are posing problems for farmers and wildlife, he said. Primary responsibility for feral hogs lies with the Agriculture Department, as these animals are not considered wildlife. Feral hog populations have been increasing in Oklahoma in the past few decades. Pennington said in order to prevent feral hog population growth, 65 percent of the population would need to be eradicated annually. He said research indicates that hunting is ineffective for long-term population reduction. The most efficient forms of control are trapping and aerial gunning, he said.

Bill Hale, assistant chief of law enforcement, outlined Wildlife Department regulations that are in place concerning feral hogs. Oklahoma requires feral hog hunters to possess a state hunting license when hunting on public land, but no license is required for shooting hogs on private land. Also, removing any feral hog alive from a wildlife management area is prohibited.

Wildlife Department Assistant Director Wade Free said several proposals concerning feral hogs are likely to come before the State Legislature this session. Among those, Senate Bill 1451 would designate the Wildlife Department responsible for feral hog issues in Oklahoma.
In other business, the Commission:
Learned about plans in place with the Grand River Dam Authority to develop the Neosho Bottoms Wetlands Restoration Project northwest of Miami, Okla., and approved a budget addition to hire a biologist for the project.

Heard about successful social media efforts by the Department's Information and Education Division, including more than 135,000 combined fans of the Department's various Facebook pages and more than 1 million views on the "Outdoor Oklahoma" Youtube channel.

Watched presentations about Sandy Sanders Wildlife Management Area and Doc Hollis Lake before touring the areas in person.
Authorized Director Richard Hatcher to complete the purchase of 40 acres near Lexington WMA in Cleveland County.

The Oklahoma Wildlife Conservation Commission is the eight-member governing board of the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation. The Commission establishes state hunting and fishing regulations, sets policy for the Wildlife Department and indirectly oversees all state fish and wildlife conservation activities. Commission members are appointed by the governor and confirmed by the Oklahoma Senate.

The next scheduled Commission meeting will begin at 9 a.m. March 7, 2016, at the Oklahoma Aquarium in Tulsa.

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