Fishing

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Old man with a hat sitting along the bank of a creek and fishing
Fishing in Rock Creek

NPS Photo

What comes to mind when you think about fishing? Patience, relaxation, challenge, and memories are a few words often associated with fishing. You will find all that and a sense of stewardship, conservation, and preservation on this page. We want you to have an enjoyable time during your visit, and for those who come after you to fish. Take some time to explore, learn what the park has to offer and learn your responsibilities before casting a line or flicking a fly into the water.

Chickasaw National Recreation Area allows fishing as a means of providing for public enjoyment, and customary and traditional use, and regulates fishing to ensure that it is managed in a manner that avoids unacceptable impacts to park resources.

For more information on how fishing regulations work in national parks, go to the NPS Fish and Fishing website.


White bass, largemouth bass, crappie, smallmouth bass, spotted bass, crappie, panfish, and catfish are popular catches. Wheelchair accessible fishing docks are available at Veterans Lake, and on Lake of the Arbuckles near the boat launches at Guy Sandy, Buckhorn, and The Point.

Licenses

Visitors fishing within Chickasaw National Recreation Area must follow the fishing license requirements in accordance with the laws and regulations of the State of Oklahoma.

Fishing Regulations

Except as otherwise designated, fishing shall be in accordance with the laws and regulations of the State of Oklahoma (36CFR7.50). For state fishing regulations go to the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation website.

The fishing regulations apply to all “finfish” found in the park. Other taxa, including amphibians, mollusks and crustaceans (e.g. waterdogs, crayfish) are not considered “fish” for the purpose of NPS fishing regulations and addressed by NPS regulations governing “wild life” (36CFR2.2).

These fishing regulations apply, regardless of land ownership, on all lands and waters within the park that are under the legislative jurisdiction of the United States.

The following are prohibited:

  • Introducing wildlife, fish or plants, including their reproductive bodies, into a park area ecosystem. This includes the discarding and/or dumping of bait and bait buckets.

  • The use or possession of fish, wildlife or plants for ceremonial or religious purposes, except where specifically authorized by Federal statutory law, or treaty rights.

The following regulations apply only within Chickasaw National Recreation Area

Fishing is prohibited in the following areas:

  • Travertine Creek and other bodies of water east of U.S. 177 including the areas east of the Travertine Nature Center.

(This restriction prevents swimmers in this popular area from encountering lost fishing line and hooks while recreating.)

Fishing in Veterans Lake, creeks and all small watershed lakes less than 100 acres are restricted to the use of a hand line or rod and reel. Methods such as trotlines, yo-yo’s, sail lines, jug lines, nets, and other means of fishing are prohibited, except at Lake of the Arbuckles.

(This is intended to prevent unattended fishing equipment in these smaller bodies of water from interfering with other forms of water recreation.)

Consistent with ODWC, the National Park Service considers all waters at or below 885.3ft above sea level to be lake waters, for the purposes of fishing regulations.

Fish Consumption Advisories in National Park Waters

The Environmental Protection Agency, states, territories, and tribes provide advice on fish and shellfish caught in the waters in their jurisdiction to help people make informed decisions about eating fish. Advisories are recommendations to limit your consumption of, or avoid eating entirely, certain species of fish or shellfish from specific bodies of water due to chemical or biological contamination.

Fish is part of a healthy balanced diet, but eating wild fish and shellfish caught in park waters is not risk free. Parks are “islands”, but the much larger “ocean” that surrounds them affects the natural resources inside a park. Other aquatic toxins are the result of natural biological processes. Also, chemical contaminants that originate outside of park boundaries can come into parks.

Mercury is an example of a toxin originating outside a park that can find its way into a park. Mercury exists naturally in some rocks, including coal. When power plants burn coal, mercury can travel in the air long distances before falling to the ground, usually in low concentrations. Once on the ground, microorganisms can change this elemental mercury to methyl mercury. This type of mercury can build up in animal tissues, and it can increase in concentration to harmful levels. This high concentration can occur in large predatory fish - those often pursued and eaten by anglers. Studies have shown that fish in some National Park System waters have mercury levels that may be a concern to people who regularly eat a lot of fish.

Chickasaw National Recreation Area Fish Consumption Advisories


Most water in Chickasaw National Recreation Area drains into Lake of the Arbuckles. Although the following advisory is for Lake of the Arbuckles, cautious anglers may wish to heed the same advisory for fish caught in other park waters.
Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality Fish Consumption Advisory - Lake of the Arbuckles.

To learn more about this topic, the National Park Service maintains information about Fish Consumption Advisories and Mercury and Toxins in Nature.

Aquatic Invasive Species

Imagine your favorite fishing spot and the wonderful memories. Things may look fine but underneath the surface there is a serious threat. Everything you remembered is now cemented together in a sharp, smelly mess. Invaders have wiped out the fish species you used to catch.

Aquatic invasive species are not native to an ecosystem. Their introduction causes, or is likely to cause, harm to the economy, the environment, or to human health. Aquatic invasive species are a growing risk to parks and their values. In the United States alone, there are more than 250 non-native aquatic species.

For many centuries, humans have contributed to spreading non-native species around the globe. You can make a difference. To learn more about Aquatic Invasive Species in the National Park Service, visit the Fish & Fishing website.

How You Can Help – Stop Aquatic Hitchhikers

Aquatic Invasive Species pose a signifcant threat to recreational and commercial waters throughout the United States. Cooperation between agencies and individuals to prevent further spread of these species is vital.

Anglers should:

  1. CLEAN off plants, animals, and mud from gear and equipment including waders, footwear, ropes, anchors, bait traps, dip nets, downrigger cables, fishing lines, and field gear before leaving water access. Scrub off any visible material on footwear with a stiff brush.

  2. DRAIN water from watercraft, motor, bilge, bladder tanks, livewell and portable bait containers before leaving water access. Replace with spring or dechlorinated tap water when keeping live bait before leaving water access.

  3. DRY everything five days or more, unless otherwise required by local or state laws, when moving between waters to kill small species not easily seen OR wipe with a towel before reuse.

  4. DISPOSE of unwanted bait, worms, and fish parts in the trash. When keeping live bait, drain bait container and replace with spring or dechlorinated tap water. Never dump live fish or other organisms from one water body into another.

Visitors who may have discovered new aquatic invasives or new areas of infestation in the state of Oklahoma are encouraged to report to the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation. Early notification can help prevent further spread and help protect our waterways.

Fishing Throughout the National Park Service

We invite you to visit the Fish and Fishing website for more information about fish and fishing in the National Park Service. You will learn about conservation, different fish species, and parks that offer fishing.

Last updated: March 1, 2021

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Mailing Address:

901 W. 1st Street
Sulphur, OK 73086

Phone:

(580) 622-7234

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