The Blue River is its most scenic along the 6¼-mile stretch through the Blue River Public Fishing and Hunting Area, where it transforms from a sluggish, meandering river into cascading water which forks through granite and limestone formations. It is the jewel of south-central Oklahoma.
"It really looks like it was picked up out of Colorado and moved to south-central Oklahoma," said Matt Gamble, the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation's fisheries biologist on Blue River for the past 12 years.
"Most people wouldn't recognize it as a south-central Oklahoma river."
Most steams in south-central Oklahoma are very shallow and turbid, whereas the Blue River is very scenic and primitive with pristine, clear water and lots of changes in elevation.
The source of the spring-fed Blue River is the underground Arbuckle-Simpson aquifer. It flows freely from its headwaters southwest of Ada all the way into the Red River around Bokchito in Bryan County.
The river is most scenic along the 6¼-mile stretch through the Blue River Public Hunting and Fishing Area about 10 miles northeast of Tishomingo in Johnston County.
Here, the granite rocks of the Arbuckle outcrop surface and the river is energized.
Along these six miles, the river transforms from a sluggish, meandering stream to cascading water that forks through granite and limestone formations.
Over and around these rocks is the creation of horseshoe waterfalls and deep, slow-moving pools and fast-moving riffles. The river channel often becomes braided, forming smaller streams with interspersed islands covered with unique seaside alders and native hardwoods.
The Blue River is a very popular fishing destination in the winter as the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation stocks trout in the stream from November through March. Gamble said between 4,000 and 6,000 people visit the Blue River each month during the winter trout season. Most of the trout anglers are from North Texas, south-central Oklahoma, and the Oklahoma City area, he said.
Anglers will catch trout into June on Blue River, but the water in the stream gets too warm in the summer for the hatchery-raised rainbows to live.
However, Blue River is not just a winter fishing destination.
"Summer opportunities are overlooked a lot of the times," Gamble said. "I love smallmouth bass fishing. I would put it up against any river or stream in the state as far as smallmouth go.
"You catch a lot of spotted bass, also. It's not uncommon on a good day to catch 80 or a 100 fish in a few hours."
The Wildlife Department also puts 11,000 channel catfish in the river between April through September, and there are a few flathead catfish in the stream as well