Extreme spring and summer weather conditions have prompted the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation to postpone regular trout stockings until water quality conditions improve. The area affected is the Lower Illinois River trout fishery located below Lake Tenkiller near Gore.
“Heavy spring rains and a period of extreme heating have combined to create unusually warm water in Tenkiller Reservoir,” said Jim Burroughs, east central region fisheries supervisor for the Wildlife Department. These waters are released through turbines used for hydropower generation and flow directly in to the Lower Illinois River trout stream.
“Water temperatures are approaching potentially lethal limits for trout. Regular stockings, as well as those temporarily postponed will begin as soon as conditions improve that will allow survival of the stocked trout,” Burroughs said.
According to biologists with the Wildlife Department, trout that were in the water before temperatures warmed to near lethal limits have a better chance of adapting to the temperatures and may find springs and other refuges where colder temperatures may exist.
Anglers are still having good success catching largemouth bass on topwater lures, and striped bass fishing is currently excellent on shad all along the river. Anglers are also catching channel catfish, walleye and saugeye.
The Lower Illinois River is one of the only two year-round trout fisheries in the state and is managed by the Wildlife Department. The other is the Lower Mountain Fork River in Beaver’s Bend State Park, below the Lake Broken Bow dam.