The beautiful Blue River near Tishomingo is the most popular of the winter trout areas managed by the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation. The state's six winter trout areas managed by the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation are now open for business.
Whether you are an avid or just casual angler, all of them are worth a visit, and the trip can provide more than just fishing. Three of the winter trout areas are in state parks and the other three are near small towns that are interesting places to visit. The most popular winter trout area by far is at Blue River near Tishomingo. It's hard to find a prettier place to fish in the state or a better place to catch trout. Over the 6¼ miles of trout waters in the Blue River Public Hunting and Fishing Area, the Wildlife Department will stock 59,000 rainbows through March. A portion of the Blue River is catch-and-release only.
Between 5,000 and 7,000 people visit the Blue River monthly during the winter. Blue River becomes a community of its own during trout season as many people will spend days camping and fishing on the river.
“A lot of them have formed friendships and bonds that have lasted years and years and years and it came from Blue River,” said Matt Gamble, the Wildlife Department's biologist on the Blue River. “They camped beside each other and got to know each other.I grew up around deer camps and it's really the same thing except they're trout fishing. Man, they cook up some incredible camp meals. It's a pretty neat atmosphere.”
While at Blue River, you can also grab a hamburger at the Blue River One Stop or go into Tishomingo to shop and visit Blake Shelton's Ole Red restaurant and bar. For more outdoor adventures and wildlife watching while in the area, visit the Tishomingo National Wildlife Refuge and the Tishomingo National Fish Hatchery.
The second most popular winter trout area is one of the newest at Medicine Creek in Medicine Park. Much like Blue River, it is a scenic place as anglers can fish for trout up and down a ¾-mile stretch of a cobblestone stream. Medicine Creek runs through the middle of downtown Medicine Park and can be seen from any establishment on the downtown strip. The historical city offers venues ranging from overnight lodging tepees to a local olive oil company.
There are two cafes in town that provide local charm and great food. Nearby attractions include the Medicine Park Aquarium, the Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge with Mount Scott and Lake Lawtonka.
“This hidden treasure in the southwest part of the state allows folks to enjoy fishing, great food, hiking and mountain bike trails, great opportunities for photography and an enjoyable day for the entire family,” said Ryan Ryswyk, head of the southwest fisheries region for the Wildlife Department. Of the three winter trout areas in state parks, the closest to Oklahoma City is Lake Watonga. The lake is part of Roman Nose State Park which offers hiking trails, mountain biking and horseback riding.
If you go to Lake Watonga on a Friday or Saturday and are a wine lover, check out Whirlwind Winery in Watonga. It is only open two days a week but offers wine and cheese pairings plus unique wines such as Wild Sand Plum.
If you really want to take a long road trip for trout fishing, Robbers Cave State Park in Wilburton has 1½ miles of trout fishing through March 15 on a portion of Fourche Maline River below Carlton Lake Dam. After a day of fishing, drive to historic Krebs for Italian food.
On the other side of the state, Lake Carl Etling in Black Mesa State Park is stocked with trout through April. You can camp and fish in the state's highest elevation.
The remaining winter trout area at Perry CCC Lake is an easy day trip from Oklahoma City. Fishing at Perry CCC Lake is like taking a step back into time as the pavilions near the south shoreline were projects of the Civilian Conservation Corps in 1934.
The City of Perry requires a $3 daily fishing permit in addition to a state fishing license. While in Perry, you can dine at the historic Kumback Café which has been serving “down home” cooking since 1926. Also, check out the Cherokee Strip Museum and Perry Wrestling Monument Park with its statues of Olympians Danny Hodge and Jack Vanbebber.