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Two big fish remind us now is the time for fishing

Two big bass surveyed recently by fisheries biologists with the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation are serving as reminders that now through the next few months is a good time to be bass fishing, and that you never know where the next big fish might be lurking.

Each spring, fisheries biologists use electrofishing techniques to survey bass populations at lakes across the state, and this year biologists surveyed one bass from Lake Arcadia that weighed 12.22 lbs. and another from Lake Watonga that weighed in at over 11 lbs. Several other fish in the nine to 10-lb. range were surveyed as well. The fish were released in good condition.

"Good bass fishing can be found just about anywhere in Oklahoma, even close to the metro," said Barry Bolton, chief of fisheries for the Wildlife Department.

As the name suggests, electrofishing surveys use electric current to "stun" fish in a specific area of a lake, causing them to surface long enough for biologists to collect biological data. A short time later, the fish recover from the shock and swim on their way. Last spring, electrofishing survey results from the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation showed that even small lakes under 1,000 acres produced high numbers of bass during the survey

Other data provided in the spring electrofishing survey is the number of bass over 14 inches that are surveyed per hour and the heaviest bass recorded from each lake. Though factors like inclement weather or prolonged high water levels can prevent biologists from surveying some lakes from year to year, the data collected provides useful information for biologists and for anglers planning their next getaway.

Biologists employ different methods of data collection depending on the species they are studying as well as the time of year. For example, springtime electrofishing is especially effective for surveying black bass, as bass spend more time in shallow water during the spring than at other times of the year and are therefore more susceptible to electric shock. During the summer, bass may be too deep in the water for electrofishing to effectively survey large numbers of fish.

Saugeye are more vulnerable to electrofishing in the fall, and other species, such as crappie, can be captured and surveyed through methods such as trap netting. Crappie tend to perceive the nets as underwater structure and are likely to concentrate in such areas, making them easier to catch and survey.

Survey data and other information collected by Wildlife Department fisheries personnel can be used to help manage fish populations, establish regulations and increase fishing opportunities across the state. To learn more about fishing in Oklahoma, log on to
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