Professional fishing and waterfowl guide specializing in Walleye fishing, Canadian Goose hunting, Dove hunts, Duck hunting and Sandhill Crane hunting.
Serving sportsmen for 20 years in Oklahoma, Texas, Kansas, Arkansas.
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Prime season is February thru June. This year we will fish Fort Cobb, Lake Lawtonka, Lake Ellsworth, Waurika lake or Altus Lugert. I begin booking walleye fishing trips in late January. Walleye and Saugeye caught in the early spring can be of tremendous size. All walleye bait, graphite walleye rods, northland fishing tackle and equipment is provided. You must however bring raingear and any cold weather gear. License requirements are a OK fishing license purchase directly from the Wildlife Department by calling 405-521-3852, Monday-Friday, 8:00 a.m. till 4:30p.m. (Visa or MasterCard only. Allow for mailing time to receive your license). You can also purchase them online at this link http://www.wildlifedepartment.com/onlinesales/onlinesalesintro.asp The cost for a non-resident license is $35.00 for six days, $55.00 for an annual. Reservations should be made well in advance. Cost per person is $100.00 Large groups can book the boat $350.00 and bring up to four people.
We meet at Fat Macs Store which is located on County Road N 2530 near Fee area # 5 on the west side of the lake. Take Highway 9 north out of the town of Fort Cobb veer west on Highway 9 past the intersection with Highway 146 two miles past the west curve of Highway 9 you will take a right (north) onto County road N 2530 drive north for three and a quarter miles and the Fat Mac Store is on your right (east) side of the road. Click on this link for MAP to Fat Macs
Here are a couple pic's of Oklahoma Walleye and Saugeye.
STATE RECORD SAUGEYE!!!
In Fisherman article March 2005
Northern Tricks for Southern ’Eyes
Catching Saugeye in Mid-South Reservoirs
By Larry Cofer
Curt Wilkerson has taken me out for saugeye several times, occasionally for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation’s television show, Outdoor Oklahoma, or just to scout and compare trade secrets on the walleye-sauger hybrid when the bite’s been slow. The exchange has been severely one-sided. I learn something new every time out and remain awed by Curt’s fishing touch. I still don’t know how he can tell bottom snags from fish on a rocky bottom at our home lake. He’s wrong now and then, but he’s right more than he’s wrong, and he always catches the most and the biggest saugs.
Most of our trips, we drag jigs tipped with minnows or crawlers, working with the waves along a promising flat where undefined blips cling to the bottom line on the depthfinder. “Those are fish?” I ask. “Oh yeah—saugeye,” Curt confirms, and then proves it with a hookup a while later. Those apathetic bottom-huggers are Curt’s bread-and-butter fish on guide trips. For most anglers where saugeye are stocked, the fish is a mystery that won’t be solved without some lessons from an original northern mentor.
Right Person, Right Place, Right Fish
Curt and I met a decade ago at a gas station near the lake. He was going to work at his second job at the time. An Army guy, obviously, but his rig wasn’t what you see much on Oklahoma waters—aluminum V-hull, with offset captain’s chairs and a trolling motor hanging on the back—not at the front where bass busters mount it. And the rods—matching 6-foot spinning outfits stowed upright for everyone to see.
The average Oklahoma angler keeps maybe one spinning rod under the deck, for the days when bass fishing gets tough and the sand bass are schooling. This guy didn’t have a baitcaster in the boat (and the ones he owns have line counters on them). Finally there were the baits—little fluorescent green, orange, and yellow jigheads scattered here and there on the dash and in the gunwales, some with silly little spinners or mini-rattles and others trailing tiny treble hooks. A couple of nightcrawler boxes and a livewell full of minnows completed the peculiar picture. Looked like the kind of rig you’d see in the pages of the Walleye In-Sider, not at a convenience store in the south.
Resisting the trite southern greeting of, “You ain’t from around here, are ya?” I asked instead if he was coming from or going to the lake. One-eyeing my Wildlife Department pickup, he replied simply, “Goin’,” with an accent that mimicked Al Lindner. This guy already had the look and sound of someone who knew more about ’eyes than an optometrist. Each in a hurry toward different goals, we traded names and trucked off in opposite directions.
The next time I saw Curt was at the boat ramp a few weeks later, where he was divvying up a mixed bag of ’eyes, crappie, and channel cats among three other guys. He wasn’t doing this just for fun but was guiding specifically for saugeyes. Now we had a serious anomaly on our hands—here was someone actually guiding anglers for ’eyes on reservoirs in Southwest Oklahoma. Talk about your oxymorons, your conundrums, your enigmas, paradoxes, mixed metaphors, and even obscure references. This guy didn’t belong. Or maybe he fit in just right.
Walleyes were stocked in Oklahoma in the ’60s and they’re still at home in some waters, but saugeye have settled in to many more lakes since the late ’80s. ’Eyes of some lineage swim in 40 or so Oklahoma lakes, but only a handful of anglers target them specifically to this day. Most catch them incidentally while dipping a minnow, and a few cast for walleyes when they’re spawning shallow in the spring. Here was a guy who was obviously working on ’eyes in the shoulder season, after the spawn and while everyone else around was moving on to crappie and bass, the region’s traditional favorites.
Curt and the saugeye were transferred to this part of the country about the same time, and they were perfect fits. The Minnesotan has a command of the fish and its habits, and he’s methodically been passing on that knowledge and excitement to naive native anglers. Retiring from the Army a couple of years ago, Curt turned his second job into a fulltime guiding career.
“People were asking me to take them out at the bait shops and gas stations, and I’d take them just to have someone to go with.” After a year of guiding on weekends, Curt knew he could make a living at it and began working toward that goal. Late fall and winter, he guides for geese and sandhill cranes. Spring, summer, and early fall, he’s on the water about every day educating customers or scouting for saugeye near Lawton, Oklahoma. He estimates he took 150 people fishing last year, and while saugeye fishing success naturally comes and goes, business couldn’t be better. And it’s not just in the spring when ’eyes are easy. Curt and his clients are still catching them in June when everyone else down here turns to catfish or hybrids for fun. Most Oklahomans have long put away their fishing gear by September, when Curt’s back on the water scanning his depthfinder for bottom-hugging fall saugs.
Saugeye and walleye are the cats of the aquatic realm. Picky eaters and sneaky predators on most days, they’re frustrating for anyone in the South who cut his or her fishing teeth on aggressive largemouth bass, and that describes most of Curt’s clients from Oklahoma and North Texas. Most have never caught a walleye or heard of a saugeye. It’s a different kind of fishing, for sure—more like crappie jigging than bass plugging, but well worth learning when the toothy and tasty quarry averages 4 pounds. The typical guest is lucky if he’s hooked up a couple of saugeye by the end of their first trip, but he takes home a boatload of new ideas and a great respect for Curt and his fish.
Curt Wilkerson grew up in Winona, Minnesota, near the Mississippi River and within an hour of some legendary walleye waters. “We’d pack up the fishing gear on the weekend and head out,” Curt remembers. But he grew up in a walleye fishing sense in the summers of his youth at his grandparents’ cabin on Gull Lake, near Bemidji. “I worked for the resort—a fishing camp, really—doing everything from cleaning boats to cutting grass. The resort owner would give me a boat to use for the evening to pay me, and I’d go fishing. I was just a kid, maybe 10 or 12.”
His inspiration to guide others flowed from that bay. “The guests would meet me at the dock when I was coming in, and I’d have all these walleye. They’d ask me where and how, and then want me to take them out.” By the time he left home for the service at 18, he knew more about ’eyes than just about anyone north of the Mason-Dixon line. But his experience with the genus Sander [formerly Stizostedion] was refined all over the States and even in Europe where the Army ordered him. “Zaaander,” Curt utters with a deep German accent. “We fished for zander in Germany and Holland.”
Curt modestly estimates he’s caught 20 fish over 9 pounds from Colorado to Wisconsin, Montana, Iowa, New Mexico, the Dakotas, and Canada too. His best fish was a 10.8-pound zander in Germany. Soon after the Army told him he was going to Fort Sill, he learned that we had a few ’eyes here, too. By the time he arrived in 1991, most of the fisheries in this area were converted to saugeye that fared much better in hot Oklahoma summers. Now 40 years old, he’s seen the best and worst of what finicky ’eyes can do wherever they swim.
“The biggest difference here is the fish are shallower,” says Curt. “In Minnesota, we’d fish 20 or 30 feet, but here it can be more like 4 to 8, and maybe an average of 12. I think it’s just the color and clarity of the water here. I don’t think the light penetrates nearly as deep, so the baitfish are shallower.”
“And the wind,” he adds. “There’s more use of the wind here to locate fish and with boat positioning.” Curt’s most memorable day was fraught with that incessant Oklahoma wind, but it worked to his advantage. “I had two driftsocks out, the wind was blowing but we were just pounding the fish. It was a grandfather, the father, and two grandsons. We were all cold, wet, and miserable—it was really a brutal morning—but it was fast and furious and we were done by 9:30. Just seeing the three generations all catching limits at Lawtonka—they couldn’t stop talking about it.”
Lakes seldom ice up down here, but even Wilkerson has a hard time catching saugs before March. “They’ll move up out of deeper water on warm-up days in January and February, but the best fishing is in April when the water is in the 60s,” he estimates. “By mid-June when the water temp hits 75 or so, it’s over. Then it picks up again in late September through November.”
His favorite fishing method is deadsticking a nightcrawler-tipped jig, anchored over saugeyes with a little wave action. “The baits are basically the same as we used up north,” says Curt, whose mainstay offerings are jigheads tipped with worms or minnows. He tried leeches a few times, but they didn’t work here. He’ll experiment with Lindy rigs, whistlers, rattles, and floating jigs until the fish cooperate and switch from minnows to nightcrawlers when mayflies are hatching. “You can’t catch a fish on minnows when you see mayfly carcasses on the surface,” he declares. “They won’t touch a minnow.”
Other chapters that Curt teaches his pupils are feel and timing. “They’re not used to that subtle bite and just don’t know how to read a rod,” Curt sympathizes. “I can sit there and watch a rod tip and know it’s a fish. And then they’ll overreact and try to set the hook too fast. Saugeye are slow,” he adds. Other factors that separate southern anglers from northern species are speed of presentation, bait selection, and lack of proper tackle, according to Wilkerson.
“I was out on Fort Cobb Reservoir last April, and by 10 o’clock we almost had a limit and there were 20 boats around us, all trolling. They got jealous watching us catch fish after fish.” The northern-born guide sees where most southern saugeye novices go wrong. “They’re out there trolling all day with the cheapest plugs they can buy, and they don’t know the depth of the crankbait, where the fish are, or when to troll.” Curt trolls now and then too, with line-counting baitcasters towing cranks or spinners, but only when ’eyes are feeding actively in prime conditions. “Right before a front,” he says. Those times are way too few and far between to make a guide’s living, so he’s learned to mine for deeper nuggets of brown and gold. Wilkerson is genuinely disappointed if a customer doesn’t reel in a limit of saugeye and maybe a few slab crappies to spare.
Whatever species they seek the world over, most anglers navigate on memories of a couple of fish that were aggressive on a prime day. And let’s face it—for some trips, that’s enough. One or two good saugeyes, for example, will make a fine meal. But most reservoirs where they’re stocked in the heartland harbor far too many saugs for the angler to be content with a couple caught by accident here and there. Nice for me and many others around here that the world is round, and that a fishing guide with northern connections settled in the south. n
Contact: Curt’s Guide Service, 877/848-6879, curtsguideservice.com
*Fishery scientist Larry Cofer, Lawton, Oklahoma, is a regular contributor to In-Fisherman publications.
Saugeye versus walleye biology
Saugeyes are walleye-sauger hybrids, so their biology isn’t that different from either parent. Walleye evolved primarily in north-central lakes, and sauger are basically a river-dwelling species. Walleye in southern reservoirs spawn on wind-beaten rocks or in feeder streams. Saugeyes may make a false spawning run up feeder creeks and rivers above lakes where they’re stocked, and they can even back-cross to a small degree if either parent species is spawning in the same zone. If only saugeye are present, biologists can control their numbers with stocking rates.
Saugeyes exhibit a series of darker brown “saddles” extending down their sides that they inherit from saugers, while walleyes are more uniformly gold and less patterned. Saugeyes get the white tip on their tail fin from the walleye. Studies show that saugeye are more tolerant to warm, muddy water than walleye, but the two forage alike and that’s what matters to anglers. Small saugeyes prefer silversides, or what Oklahomans call “ghost minnows.” As adults, they’re likely to eat shad, drum, and a few sunfish.
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