The New Year is brought in a new southwest Oklahoma traveling opportunity for anglers and their families looking for small-town hospitality and rainbow trout. The new Medicine Creek trout season is kicked off Jan. 1, 2013, and the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation will stock the fishery every two weeks through March 15.
The Wildlife Department is partnering with the City of Medicine Park to provide a new trout fishery in a half-mile stretch of Medicine Creek from Gondola Dam downstream to the HWY 49 bridge.
"That's essentially right in town, said Ryan Ryswyk, southwest region fisheries biologist for the Wildlife Department.
The historic City of Medicine Park sits at the foothills of the Wichita Mountains, home to the famous Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge that attracts tourists from across the nation each year.
It offers unique lodging, dining and shopping, hiking and entertainment opportunities and, along with the wildlife refuge, other area attractions such as scenic drives, museums, Lake Lawtonka, Lake Elmer Thomas Recreation Area, and walking trails along Medicine Creek. Along with wintertime trout, the creek also offers fishing for bass, catfish and bluegill. Sidewalks that blend into the granite rock surroundings line the bank of the creek, providing excellent fishing access without taking away from the natural beauty of the area. Many of the city's amenities are within walking distance of Medicine Creek.
Biologists say the opening of the fishery is being met with anticipation from anglers anxious to cast a line in the new fishery.
"This fishery provides a truly unique opportunity," Ryswyk said. "Being able to catch trout in a pristine southwest Oklahoma creek while a family member takes a stroll on a paved trail to a nearby dining facility for a cup of coffee is an appealing idea. And down here, it's a reality."
Anglers only need a fishing license to catch trout at the new fishery. No special trout or city permits are required, and anglers can keep six trout of any size per day. Only one rod and reel per person is permitted, and anglers can log on to the Wildlife Department's website at wildlifedepartment.com to view fishing reports for this and the state's other designated trout areas.
The new state-designated fishery comes after the Department had to stop providing trout at Quartz Mountain because of the presence of golden algae in the stream below Altus-Lugert Lake. Golden algae is a microscopic organism that, under certain conditions, can produce toxins that cause extensive fish kills. According Ryswyk, trout appear to be more susceptible to the golden algae toxins. Blooms often occur in cooler temperatures that coincide with the time of year when trout are being stocked. Once established in a water body, golden algae are there to stay, and it is not possible to predict when the next toxic episode will occur.
Along with Medicine Creek, the Wildlife Department provides seasonal as well as year-round trout fishing at several other locations across the state. These designated trout areas feature trout stockings every two weeks throughout the fishing season and opportunities to view a range of Oklahoma scenery. For more information about the state's designated trout areas, consult the current "Oklahoma Fishing Guide," available free online at wildlifedepartment.com or in print anywhere fishing licenses are sold.