Oklahoma’s Free Fishing Weekend Is Fast Approaching
If you're one of those normies that always says things like "There's nothing to do in Lawton..." hold onto your butts because Oklahoma's statewide free fishing weekend is coming up quick!
Here's the thing, fishing is glorious. It's time outdoors. We're privileged with some of the prettiest lakes in the state. Fish are easy to catch. Most of the mountain lakes hold giant bass. It's an affordable hobby to try out, and you don't even need a license for one weekend each year.
Saturday and Sunday, June 4th & 5th are the days any and everyone is welcome to go fishing completely free of charge in the state of Oklahoma... sort of. Some lakes charge a use fee for fishing, but it's normally a dollar or two. All the same, most state and municipal lakes waive that fee for the free fishing weekend.
I haven't been able to get a call back from the City of Lawton about our municipal lakes - Lake Helen in Elmer Thomas Park and Liberty Lake off Cache Road - but the fees have been waived for at least the last full decade during these days.
To be honest with you, the refuge lakes are beyond beautiful and there's never a use charge any other time of year, just the requirement of a state-issued fishing license anytime other than the first weekend in June. Some are quite the walk, others are right off the road. I've always had good luck with Texas-rigged green plastic baits... craws and lizards.
Lawtonka is a fun lake to hop out on. There are only a few real fishing opportunities from the banks, but if you have boat access or the means to rent one for a day, those clear cool waters are fun to dip a line in if it's not too windy. Letra on the other side of the highway is also a good bank-fishing lake, just don't stray too far from the walkable paths. Lots of snakes can be found in the brush.
Don't get into the mindset that you need a lot of gear to go try fishing either. Too many people suffer from GAS - Gear Acquisition Syndrome - where their excitement turns them into hoarders of gimmicky stuff. Just a cheap spinning rod and reel plus a little tackle will get you going.
If you're brand new to fishing and just looking to try, I might suggest live bait. You just toss it out and wait for something to bite. If you have a little experience rigging plastic baits, you might be prime for a little finesse cast out/reel in fishing. If you just want to experience this nostalgia with your kiddos, you can buy pre-lined small hooks and scented fish-pellet baits when you buy your ultra-cheap rods and reels. You don't need anything beyond the basics.
If you get overwhelmed looking at all the different brands of fishing gear on store shelves, take a breath and relax. The way the fishing industry has gone over the last twenty years, all of the rods, reels, tackle, and gear are made by the same handful of companies. This is especially true in that low "I want to try it" price range.
Know what you want to spend, and everything in that similar range is practically identical to everything else... Quality doesn't differ between brands as much as color does. Well, that and the fact everyone wants to put cool-sounding names on everything. Truth be told, it's all marketing based on trying to catch the angler rather than the fish.
If you have fun and decide you want to keep on fishing, worry about buying quality stuff when you cross that bridge. Just get what you need to go out and enjoy what will likely be a blistering weekend on the water.
Before I forget, don't forget to protect yourself while being out in the sun. Those fancy designated "Fishing" shirts you'll find might feel like simple wicking material, but the sun protection and cooling effect you'll get from them is worth every penny. Columbia makes good stuff, but I've always been a Magellan man. Identical products, two polar opposite price ranges.
Sunscreen is a necessity all over. You have to remember that the sun is bouncing off the water hitting you at all angles. Believe me, getting a sunburn under your chin is a bummer.
Invest in a big ole cheap straw hat. I know they look stupid but while your ballcap-wearing buddies suffer with sunburned ears and malignant melanoma, you'll know that "old man" hat had your back. They also flow a good amount of air around your sweaty head. It'll amaze you how cool it'll keep you. I always buy the $5-$7 golf hats at Walmart.
A good set of polarized sunglasses are also a practical necessity. Because that sun bounces off the water, you want to cut down on the UV-A and B rays getting to your eyes. Besides, you'll wear them long after you've had your free fishing weekend.
While Costa and Wiley-X make fashionable glasses, I'm too hard on mine to spend that kind of money. I buy these...
They're affordable, 100% UVA & UVB blocking, brown "blue-blocker" lenses to it doesn't just turn everything dark, plus they're polarized to cut glare and let you see into the depths. The green mirror is also beneficial to the average water conditions you'll find in our area lakes. You might think "that doesn't matter..." but it makes a huge difference.
I hope you make a plan to get out there and discover the outdoorsman's paradise that is SWOK's lakes. It's cheap, free, and the kids will remember it for life.
Here are the full official Oklahoma State details.