9 Top-Rated Oklahoma Trout Fishing Lakes and Rivers
The state of Oklahoma is no stranger to anglers. The Bassmaster Classic returned twice to Tulsa for anglers to compete on the Grand Lake O' the Cherokees because the waters produce trophy bass suitable for this premier event, which is considered the Super Bowl of fishing.
The Oklahoma Fishing Trail has attracted even more anglers to the state. The trail includes six loops throughout the state organized by species and lakes. Several lakes and rivers popular for trout fishing are located along the trail making it easy for anglers to specifically target trout or plan a longer visit to take advantage of the abundance of other fishing opportunities in Oklahoma.
While Oklahoma produces impressive populations of bass and pan fish, it turns out that the state has something in store for trout anglers, too. Rainbow and brown trout are not native to Oklahoma, but the state has a robust fisheries program that has enabled trout to thrive in the Sooner State waters.
There are two year-round fisheries at the Lower Mountain Fork River and the Lower Illinois River, where trout are stocked every week or two, as long as the water is suitable for trout survival. The state also has six seasonal fisheries that are stocked by the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation. The seasonal fisheries are stocked from November through March or April, giving anglers an opportunity for winter fishing when it is more difficult to target other species.
Oklahoma also has a unique program called Close to Home Fishing, which allows trout fishing at two urban ponds from December 1 to February 28. The two locations are the Dolese Youth Park Pond in Oklahoma City and Veterans Park Pond in Jenks. Trout anglers must have a fishing license, and anglers at Dolese Youth Park Pond must have an Oklahoma City fishing permit.
Since trout thrive in colder water, the stocking program works well in Oklahoma. Anglers can use similar fishing gear for all of the fisheries, as conditions are similar. Ultralight fishing gear with four- to six-pound test line and small hooks can provide some of the best action on the water. Trout are also responsive to regular angling gear using small jigs or spinners and prepared bait or live bait.
Trout fishing regulations, including daily and size limits, restricted areas, and license information is available at the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation. Find the best spots to cast your line with our list of the top Oklahoma trout fishing lakes and rivers.
1. Lower Mountain Fork River
The Lower Mountain Fork River is a year-round trout fishery along a 12-mile stretch, from the Broken Bow Reservoir spillway downstream to the U.S. 70 Bridge. The river is on the Oklahoma Fishing Trail and is stocked regularly with brown and rainbow trout.
The Lower Mountain Fork River is fantastic for trout fishing because not only is it scenic, but it offers trout anglers a variety of water, from deep pools and riffles to calm stream sections. Nice-sized trout can be caught throughout the year, but your best timeframe to target trophy fish is November through March.
A popular five-mile stretch for anglers lies within Beavers Bend State Park in McCurtain County, providing easy access to the water. There is unlimited bank access in the state park and downstream to the dam.
Another excellent public access point is at Presbyterian Falls. Boat ramps are located above and below the re-regulation dam. For anglers who want to make a weekend trip out of it there are camping and cabin rentals available within Beavers Bend State Park.
2. Lower Illinois River
This is the second year-round trout fishery in Oklahoma that includes a nearly eight-mile section of the Illinois River, from the Tenkiller Ferry Dam to the U.S.64 bridge near Gore in Sequoyah County. Anglers can fish for stocked brown and rainbow trout. One of the best public access points is a one-mile stretch along the Lower Illinois River Public Fishing Area.
To reach the area, head north on State Highway 100 from Gore about four miles. Turn east onto county road E0990 and travel about one mile to the entrance. There is a designated parking area since the access points are walk-in access only.
There are four other public access points along the designated trout stream, including a popular spot that accesses a pool in the river located immediately below the dam where trout fishing is allowed even during high power generation.
Other public access points are located at the River Road Public Access Area (about six miles downstream from the dam) and The Gore Landing Public Access Area that has a boat launch ramp and camping facilities.
3. Blue River
The Blue River is a seasonal winter trout fishery that is stocked from November 1 to March 31, giving anglers a chance to throw their line during the colder months. The Blue River itself is a tributary of the Red River and flows for 140 miles. It is a popular fishery along the Oklahoma Fishing Trail, and it is stocked with rainbow trout about every two weeks.
The trout designated section is a six-mile stretch that runs through the Blue River Public Fishing and Hunting Area near Tishomingo. The trout stream can be accessed from the bank or by wading. The stream has a series of pools and plunges, giving anglers a variety of depths and techniques to try for brown and rainbow trout. Primitive camping is available at the Blue River campground.
4. Lake Carl Etling
The tranquil setting of Lake Carl Etling is part of the appeal of this winter trout fishery. The lake is located at Black Mesa State Park in Kenton, Oklahoma. There is a five-mile shoreline so there is plenty of bank access, but your best spots are on the berms located on the south bank. Boat ramps are located on the south and east sides for fishing on the water.
The trout season is November 1 through April 30. While it is a nice trout fishery, Lake Carl Etling is also known for its catfishing, which places it on the Northwestern Loop of the Oklahoma Fishing Trail. To get to Lake Carl Etling, head 28 miles west on U.S. 325 from Boise City. Primitive camping is available.
5. Medicine Creek
The Medicine Creek trout fishery runs through the town of Medicine Park and the Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge. For anglers who are looking for a peaceful day on the water as much as a great fishing opportunity, Medicine Creek will not disappoint. The creek is stocked with rainbow trout from November 1 to March 15.
The section to target is bordered by the Gondola Lake Dam on the north and the State Highway 49 bridge on the south. The easiest access points are from the sidewalk on the east side of the creek. There is another public access point north of the State Highway 49 bridge where you will also find parking.
The west side of the creek, while primitive and pristine, is not accessible by foot. Anglers should be aware of some private property in the area and heed "no trespassing" signs. The Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge has camping facilities available.
6. Perry CCC/Lake Perry Park
Lake Perry has become a popular winter trout fishery for rainbow trout. It replaced Lake Pawhuska as the closest trout fishery in the north-central part of the state. Lake Perry is only five miles off interstate 35, so it is a great trout fishery to target if you are looking for quick access to the water.
The 32-acre lake is stocked from November 1 to March 31. There is plenty of bank access along the water and a boat ramp located on the west side of the lake. Lake Perry is one of the easiest lakes to access for day fishing in the state, but if you are planning a longer trip there is nearby camping and hotel lodging in the town of Perry.
7. Robbers Cave
The Robbers Cave trout fishery is a gem because of its versatility. There is ample accessibility; the fishing is great; the scenery is unmatched; wade fishing is possible here; and it is located inside of Robbers Cave State Park, so lodging and other amenities like restrooms are in close proximity.
From the town of Wilburton, go five miles north on State Highway 2 to access the park. The trout fishery is a 1.5-mile stretch located on the south section of the park below Carlton Dam in the Fourche Maline River. There is ample bank access to the water, and wade fishing is available anywhere within the state park.
Winter stocking takes place from November 1 to March 15. There are camping facilities and cabins available at Robbers Cave State Park.
8. Lake Watonga
Lake Watonga is located within Roman Nose State Park, one of the first state parks in Oklahoma. The 55-acre lake is in the central part of the state and sits in a canyon surrounded by rocky cliffs, streams, and picturesque scenery.
Winter trout stocking takes place from November 1 through March 31. In the spring, there are trout fishing tournaments. A state record rainbow trout was even caught out of Lake Watonga.
Bank access to the lake is plentiful, and there is a boat ramp on the west side. The state park has modern amenities - camping, cabins, and a lodge are available for longer stays.
9. Sunset Lake
If you are looking for a spot for trout fishing that has easy accessibility and an abundance of stocked trout, then Sunset Lake in Thompson Park is a nice option. The 17-acre lake is encircled by a paved one-mile trail loop. The lake is regularly stocked with rainbow trout, and season stamps are easy to obtain from City Hall. The trout season runs from January 1 through April 30.
For anglers who are new to trout fishing, Sunset Lake offers an easy introduction, so you can focus on technique before heading into more remote streams and rivers in the state. The park itself is a quiet retreat with plenty of wildlife to see while you are fishing, and elk and buffalo that are often spotted in the distance at the neighboring Game Reserve. The park has picnic areas and restrooms that are easily accessible from the lake.
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Trout Fishing Destinations: For more ideas on trout fishing destinations, see our articles on Top Rivers for Trout Fishing in North Carolina, where you can find wonderful opportunities for fishing in the mountains. Also, don't miss our piece on Trout Fishing in Missouri.