By Gerry Augustin, Outdoor writer
Enid News and Eagle
ENID, Okla. —
Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation's popular controlled hunts program application period closes May 15.
The controlled hunts program offers once-in-a-lifetime elk and antelope hunts, highly sought-after buck hunts and other quality hunting opportunities through random drawings that only cost $5 to enter.
Opportunities offered through the program include hunts on wildlife department or other government-owned or managed lands where unrestricted hunting would pose safety concerns or where overharvest might occur.
All applicants, including lifetime license holders, must pay the $5 application fee to enter the controlled hunts drawings. The fee is only paid once per person per year regardless of the number of categories entered.
Go to www.wildlifedepartment.com/con trolledhunt/ctrlhunt.asp to complete an application for the controlled hunts program.
An Oklahoma resident could purchase a hunting license in 1960 for $2. The scissor-tailed flycatcher became the state bird in May 1951.
Here are a couple of history questions: What location in Oklahoma is the last campsite of Pat Hennessy before Hennessy and his men were massacred on July 4, 1874? When was the last wild herd of buffalo seen on open range in Oklahoma?
It’s crappie time
Two species of crappie are found in Oklahoma, the white and the black. The black crappie is identified by its black blotches and seven or eight spines in the dorsal fin. The white crappie has black vertical bars and six or less spins in the dorsal fin. Crappie are members of the sunfish family.
Crappie are found in all lower 48 states. They feed on smaller species and their diet also includes zooplankton, insects and crustaceans. Crappie are less active during the day, feeding actively at dawn and dusk as they move towards the shore.
Crappie form a nest when the water temperature reaches 60-65 degrees. The fry hatch out in three to five days and leave the nest a few days later. Typical crappie grow three to five inches in the first year. By the second year, they can reach seven to eight inches.They reach maturity in three years.
Because crappie are prolific breeders, they will overpopulate a small lake quickly. A large population of crappie will compete with bass. If the crappie become overpopulated, they will become stunted — most notably, the distance from the dorsal fin to the tail will be shorter than normal.
The world record crappie is more than five pounds. Oklahoma’s black crappie record is 4 pounds 10 ounces and measured 20 inches in length and 17-inch girth. It was caught in a pond in June 1974. The white crappie state record is 4 pounds, 15 ounces, measuring 19 inches in length with a girth of 16 inches. It also was caught in a pond in May 1991.
One of the popular ways to fish for crappie is “spider rigging” where anglers use many poles at various angles from the fisherman. Terminal tackle can be anything from rubber baits to live minnows.
I have put together a list of tips to try on your next crappie fishing trip. Use a light line — four pound test is the heaviest you will need. Crappie have a tender mouth and setting the hook hard could pull the hook out easily. Use small lures, grubs and tube jigs that measure less than two inches. If you are going to fish with live bait, use a number 4 wire hook with a long shank. This light hook with the long shank will be easier to dislodge.
Vertical jig your lure to discover the depth of the crappie. When the depth is found, reel your lure up about 18 inches and fish this depth, even if you move elsewhere you are likely to catch crappie at this depth. If you cannot remember how many turns down your lure was, then tie a small rubber band on your line. The small knot will easily flow through the eyes. Fishing jigs use red or black on cloudy, overcast days. When fishing on clear days use chartreuse, pink or white lures. To give more freedom to the lure or jig, tie a loop knot. If you’re fishing in cold water, fish the lure slower. Use a pencil cork as it puts less resistance on the crappie when they attack the bait. Using a large bobber or ball-type bobber increase the resistance and may cause the crappie to drop the bait.
Even though there is no length limit, it is not worth keeping crappie that are six inches long. By the time you are done filleting the fish you may barely have a tablespoon of meat. If the fish does not cover the hand of a grown man, release it and next year it will be bigger. Wherever length limits have been enacted, anglers have been catching larger fish.
• BASS Federation qualifying tournament on Lake Sardis
• Turkey season closes
• Controlled hunt applications period ends.
• Enid Bass Club tournament on Hudson Lake.
Augustin is outdoors writer for the News & Eagle. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.