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It's time to rodeo on Canton Lake

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Luke Taylor holds a female walleye netted by state wildlife officials this spring on Canton Lake. [PHOTO PROVIDED]
Luke Taylor holds a female walleye netted by state wildlife officials this spring on Canton Lake. [PHOTO PROVIDED]

Oklahoma’s oldest fishing tournament, the 52nd annual Walleye Rodeo, begins Thursday on Canton Lake.

The four-day event includes a myriad of activities in the town of Canton as well as prizes for biggest fish in multiple species during the tournament.

Activities include live music, a 5K and 1-mile fun run, barbecue cook-off, street dance, art show, craft show, fish fry and parade.

Sunday, May 19, will be the kid’s fishing derby for ages 12 and younger where several lifetime fishing licenses will be awarded.

As far as the fishing, prizes will be awarded to anglers for the five largest walleye, top total pounds of walleye for four days and the largest fish in 11 other species.

Canton Lake has recovered nicely since a severe drought left little water in the lake five years ago. Recent rains now have it two feet high.

“With all of the rain the last couple of weeks, the water is more stained than normal,” said Chas Patterson, northwest region fisheries chief for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation.

“I would encourage everyone to be cautious of floating debris. I’m sure with the changing condition it will alter the fish patterns some, but I don’t expect it to impact the rodeo. Our anglers are pretty good at finding and targeting fish.”

Patterson said the fishing this spring has been excellent on Canton Lake.

“Overall from a fisheries standpoint the lake is in great shape,” he said. “The walleye, crappie and hybrid striped bass fishing has been really good this spring. We also had a good sand bass run this year. The fishery has really rebounded since the drought and has gotten better each of the last four years.”

Hundreds of anglers always enter the Walleye Rodeo and Canton Lake is considered the state’s premier walleye fishery. Walleye were first introduced into Canton Lake in the early ‘60s and the reservoir is still the Wildlife Department’s source for walleye brood stock for the entire state.

Walleye eggs from Canton Lake are collected each spring and taken to the nearby Byron Fish Hatchery, where the eggs are hatched. The fish are raised until they are large enough to be put in lakes across the state. Walleye have thrived in Canton Lake like no other reservoir in Oklahoma.

“We had a great walleye season this year,” Patterson said. “It was the most productive we have ever had in terms of eggs collected per day. The number off eggs needed to meet statewide requests were met after only five days of netting where it normally takes three to four weeks. It really couldn’t have gone any better.”

Controlled hunts deadline is May 22

Hunters have until May 22 to apply for the Wildlife Department’s controlled hunts for 2019-20.

The controlled hunts program offers more than 150 hunts ranging from elk, antelope, deer and turkey. Many hunts are designated specifically for youth.

Among the most popular are the primitive bow hunts for deer at the McAlester Army Ammunition Plant and the elk hunts in the Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge.

All applicants, including lifetime license holders, must pay a $5 application fee to enter a random drawing for the hunts.

The online application process must be completed through the hunter’s account at Go Outdoors Oklahoma, the Wildlife Department’s new online licensing website at www.wildlifedepartment.com/ControlledHunts.

For more information or help accessing an account, call (833) 721-1035 or email HelpDesk@GoOutdoorsOklahoma.com.

B.A.S.S. postpones tournament in Oklahoma

High lake levels at Fort Gibson Lake caused the postponement of the Cherokee Casino Tahlequah Bassmaster Elite tournament, which was originally scheduled for May 16-19.

Flooding on Fort Gibson Lake forced the closing of launch and weigh-in facilities at Taylors Ferry North Recreation Area in Wagoner.

B.A.S.S. officials announced the tournament will be rescheduled the week of Sept. 16-22.

Ed Godfrey

Ed Godfrey was born in Muskogee and raised in Stigler. He has worked at The Oklahoman for 25 years. During that time, he has worked a myriad of beats for The Oklahoman including both the federal and county courthouse in Oklahoma City for more... Read more ›

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