Oklahoma is known as “The Sooner State” due to a great number of its settlers entering the territory to procure unclaimed land before the designated time which was set for noon on April 22, 1889. Those settlers were dubbed the “Sooners” through their almost impatient can-do attitude. It didn’t take long for this characterization to be embraced by the rest of the state on account of its enthusiastic and hopeful connotations.
If you are fly fishing in Oklahoma, resident or otherwise, it is likely you will feel the same way those settlers did and want to get out on the river (or lake) as soon as possible. In Oklahoma, there are two major trout rivers, hundreds of thousands of miles of total river shoreline, and the most man-made dam-formed lakes of any state in the nation. As a result, fly fishing opportunities in Oklahoma can be both unique and abundant all the same.
Best Places to Fly Fish in Oklahoma
1. Lower Illinois River – Fly Fishing Year Round
Given that, year-round the Lower Illinois River is stocked weekly with rainbow trout and brown trout (when available) it is no wonder that this is likely the most popular fly-fishing destination in the state of Oklahoma (rivaled only by the Lower Mountain Fork River and the Blue River). It isn’t just trout that attract so many anglers to this watershed, however, it is also that white bass, walleye, and even striped bass can also be regularly caught in this area. The Lower Illinois river is one of only two year-round fisheries in Oklahoma, and definitely one of the best locations on this list.
Where to Fly Fish on the Lower Illinois River
There is a total of five public access points on the Lower Illinois River. A popular one amongst fly fishing guides is the public access area at Gore Landing (which also has its own campsite). Otherwise, some other popular spots include the access point on River Road, and also the Lower Illinois Public Fishing Area.
The Lower Illinois Public Fishing Area is walk-in only, however the access point at Gore Landing does have a boat launching ramp. For full details and regulations for fishing on the Lower Illinois River contact the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation or visit… https://www.wildlifedepartment.com/wildlife-management-areas/lower-illinois-river
Recommended Flies for the Lower Illinois River
- Caddis Nymph, size 16 (There is a year-round hatching of Caddis Nymph in Oklahoma)
- Mayfly Nymph, size 12 (There is also a year-round hatching of Mayfly Nymph is Oklahoma)
2. Lower Mountain Fork River – Whitewater Fly Fishing
The Lower Mountain Fork River is the second of the two only year-round fisheries in the state of Oklahoma. Much like the Lower Illinois river the Lower Mountain River is regularly stocked with both brown and rainbow trout. However, of course walleye, large-mouth bass, and spotted bass can also be found abundantly in this watershed. There is a total 12 miles of trout stream and plenty of uncrowded stretches which you can set up to fish the entire day at this river.
Portions of this river are whitewater, in fact the Lower Mountain Fork River (in Beavers Bend) is known as the best whitewater stream in all of Oklahoma. This river has constant cool water that make it absolutely perfect for the brown and rainbow trout that are stocked here. Moreover, Mountain Fork Park offers great facilities for anglers including a kayak and canoe rental area if you are unable to bring your own boat. Multiple guide services are also present on this river along with the Lower Illinois, and the Blue River.
Where to Fly Fish on the Lower Mountain Fork River
The Lower Mountain Fork River is separated into Blue Zones and Red Zones, and they both have their own regulations when it comes to trout length, use of artificial flies, use of barbless hooks, and also the total daily bag limit. There are access points at Beavers Bend State Park that have plenty of boat access.
However, there are a bunch of public access points near Presbyterian Falls as well. For full details and regulations for fishing on the Lower Mountain Fork River contact the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation or visit… https://www.wildlifedepartment.com/fishing/wheretofish/lower-mountain-fork
Recommended Flies for the Lower Mountain Fork River
- Midge, size 20-22 in cream and black (There is a year-round hatching of Midge in Oklahoma)
- Sulphurs, size 14-16 (There is also a year-round hatching of Sulphurs in Oklahoma)
3. Blue River – Warm and Cold Water Fly Fishing
Unlike the previous two rivers on this list, the Blue River is not a year-round fishery. Instead, the Blue River is only stocked from November through March. Moreover, only rainbow trout are stocked (approximately every two weeks) at this location although largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, spotted bass, and channel catfish can all be found in the Blue River. The clear spring-fed waters of the Blue River along with a number of plunges and waterfalls make this location an exceptionally beautiful fly fishing destination.
In the summer the water temperatures become too warm to support the trout which is why this river isn’t stocked year-round like the Lower Illinois and the Lower Mountain Fork River’s. However, just like the other two rivers the Blue River is filled with granite boulders, clear pools of water, and beautiful plunges that all make fly fishing in this location a must-do opportunity.
Where to Fly Fish on the Blue River
The Blue River is primarily a walk-in destination for wading anglers. It is pretty easy to get access to the river from either side and can also be fished from the banks at the trout stream (11 miles north-east of Tishomingo Oklahoma). Otherwise, there are several public access points along the two miles of trails that follow the Blue River. Additionally, the Blue River can be accessed at the Blue River Campground as well as at the Ruth Walker Landrum Wilderness Area.
For full details and regulations for fishing on the Blue River contact the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation or visit…https://www.wildlifedepartment.com/fishing/wheretofish/blue-river
Recommended Flies for the Blue River
- Muddler Minnows, size 10, 12, and 14 (These work well for the bass in this river)
- Near Deere, size 8 and 10 in Olive, White, Pink, and Orange (These work well for the rainbow trout in this river)
4. Lake Perry CCC/Lake Perry Park
Lake Perry, located fittingly in the City of Perry, is one of eight trout fisheries in the state of Oklahoma. Trout were first introduced into the lake in 2015, at this time only rainbow have been stocked in Lake Perry CCC due to their abundance as opposed to brown trout which have been reserved for other fisheries. The lake is close to Oklahoma City and is small enough that you don’t absolutely need a boat to fish it. There is bank access almost the entire way around, and it is stocked every two weeks during some months so there are plenty of fish to catch. Any of the flies recommended from the previous three locations would work well at Lake Perry CCC.
5. Lake Watonga – Largemouth on the Fly
The easiest access to Lake Watonga can be found through Roman Nose State Park, and while the lake does have some bank fishing it is best to have a boat to get you around the lake. Stockings of rainbow trout occur from November through March, although Lake Watonga is also known to have largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, channel catfish, crappie, and even sunfish.
Being one of the original seven state parks of Oklahoma the lake has excellent recreational opportunities/facilities in connection to the fishing you can find with Lake Watonga itself. The park as a whole has some unique outcroppings of gypsum and also scenic mesas which are visible while floating in the middle of the water.
6. Lake Texoma – Big Water Fly Fishing
This lake is located on the border of Texas and Oklahoma and is 89,000 acres of fly fishing paradise. There is year-round fishing here at one of the largest reservoirs in the entire United States. Lake Texoma is known to the locals as simply Texoma or even Texomaland, and it’s popularity is largely attributed to its sheer size and also by the fact that it is relatively close to the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex.
However, to anglers Texoma is known as “The Striper Capital of the World” as it has excellent populations of largemouth bass, Kentucky spotted bass, smallmouth bass, white bass, crappie, bluegill, catfish, carp, and gar. A clouser deep minnow or a Half and Half with both be great flies for fishing this location.
7. Lake Carl Etling
Lake Carl Etling is one of the 12 trout fisheries that were constructed by the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation sometime in the middle of the last century. The lake is primarily known to be an amazing winter trout fishery; however, Lake Carl Etling still boast impressive populations of largemouth bass, flathead catfish, walleye, and also smallmouth bass. The lake has two boat ramps and also camping facilities with picnic areas nearby. Stocking of the lake with rainbow trout occurs from November through April. Wooly Buggar in black, olive, brown, and white (sizes 8-12) are all great flies for trout in general, but especially in Oklahoma.
8. Lake Pawhuska – Fishy Water
Although this lake is no longer stocked with trout due to the states moving of its program to Lake Perry CCC, it is still a great fly fishing destination which is open to trout fishing from November through March. Unlike many areas, Lake Pawhuska has both rainbow and brown trout in its waters (Remnants from the previous 17 years of winter stocking programs) .
Moreover, large numbers of striped bass and even some catfish can be found in this lake. In previous years, a trout fishing competition was held every year that provided anglers the opportunity to win up to ten thousand dollars in prize money, so you know that there are some great fish in these waters. Moreover, Bank access has been improved in recent years, however a boat ramp and even a fishing dock are available for use. Parking spots and restrooms are also available at this location.
9. Quartz Mountain Nature Park (Lake Atlus-Lugert)
Quartz Mountain Nature Park is one of the seven original Oklahoma state parks that were designated in 1935 and is located in the south-western portion of the territory. This fishery that was once stocked weekly has since been deemed currently an unviable stocking location due to two deadly golden algae blooms that killed much of the lakes fish populations. However, efforts have been made to maintain the fish that remained after the last bloom (prior to 2015) and so the lake is still of good location to fish for bluegill, sunfish, channel catfish, and of course largemouth bass. Camping and other facilities are available at this state park and boat ramps, picnic areas, restrooms, and even an enclosed fishing dock make this an excellent Oklahoma fly fishing destination.
10. Robbers Cave State Park
Robbers Cave is stocked regularly from November through the middle of March. These stockings include only rainbow trout, although largemouth bass, spotted bass, channel catfish, sunfish, and bluegill can all be found at this fishery. Robbers Cave was given its name due to it being a former hideout for infamous outlaws Belle Starr and Jesse James, and it’s no wonder given the beautiful scenery of this forest that they chose this location (ok maybe they chose it for its secluded nature, but that is still a great trait of a fly fishing destination). The entire area consists almost entirely of pine timber, although there are a few oaks and hickory trees in the scattered openings amongst the rolling hills of this 6,180-acre forest. And, although the main trout fishery is located at Robbers Cave which is below Lake Carlton, the park as a whole has a few lakes and streams that, while un-stocked, still have great fishing.
11. Medicine Creek – Trout History
Rainbow trout are stocked every two weeks from November through mid-March in Medicine Creek which is located in Oklahoma’s scenic Medicine Park. Trout love cold water, and the waters of Medicine Creek are cold enough that the state of Oklahoma began a trout fishery program here even though other species of fish are relatively rare when compared to most other trout fisheries in the state. However, even though you will mostly just find rainbow trout at Medicine Creek, that’s all you need sometimes right? I mean I would never turn down a chance to be out in the beautiful Oklahoma wilderness fishing for trout just because the area doesn’t have much besides rainbows to catch.
Recommended Gear for Fly Fishing in Oklahoma
For the most part a 5-6 weight fly rod is the best size for fishing both the stocked and un-stocked fisheries as most of the trout (and even the striped bass) will be under 20-inches. However, if you are going specifically for larger trout or striped bass then a 7-9 weight rod is what you will need. Other than that, the standard things you will need are waders and wading boots (if you will not be on a boat), a wading stick, a landing net, and often rain gear (it rains more than you might think in Oklahoma).
Any of the flies previously mentioned will work well in most any of these locations, however Gold Bead Pheasant Tail Nymph (size 12-18), Parachute Adams (size 12-20), San Juan Worms, and Soft Hackle Fly in olive, orange, and peacock (sizes 14-20) are all also great flies for fly fishing for trout in Oklahoma. For striped bass, Lefty Deceivers in blue and white or Jig fly’s in the same colors are both great flies (along with the other ones already mentioned for stiped bass fishing).
Official References for Fly Fishing in Oklahoma
For full information about all of the trout fisheries and stocking locations/times for the state of Oklahoma, as well as fly hatching information, the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation website is the best place to look. Here is the link to their page for information about trout, however on their webpage regulatory and contact information can also be found…https://www.wildlifedepartment.com/fishing/trout-information
Otherwise, the main fly fishing clubs in Oklahoma are…
- Bartlesville—GREEN COUNTRY FLYFISHERS
- Oklahoma City—PRAIRIE FLY FISHERS
- Stillwater—STILLWATER FLY FISHERS
- Tulsa—TULSA FLYFISHERS
- Tahlequah—NORTHEASTERN OKLAHOMA FLYFISHING
Popular Fly Shops in Oklahoma
- Lucky Lure Tackle – http://www.lltackle.com/
- Backwoods – https://backwoods.com/
- Beavers Bend Fly Shop – http://www.beaversbendflyshop.com/index.html
Where Can You Find More Great FLY FISHING
- New Mexico is a hidden treasure read more about in this article – 11 Best Places to Fly Fish in New Mexico
- Colorado is just around the corner from Oklahoma. Read all about the – 14 Best Places to Fly Fish in Colorado
- Arkansas is one of those places you can nearly Guarantee to catch trout on a fly. Read my detailed – 11 Best Places to Fly Fish in Arkansas