There are many things people don't know about the state of Oklahoma, but even I didn't know this before yesterday. There is a place in Oklahoma that serves a home to one of America's greatest aquatic predators, the muskie. Often measured in lengths of feet with a huge mouth full of big sharp teeth, this is one species I always thought I'd have to road trip to Minnesota for, but they're housed within our borders. Yes, it's out in the middle of nowhere, but it's still muskie fishing on our super-affordable license.

First, let me say this... Technically, it's the tiger-muskie species. Lab created, sterile, not naturally occurring in our native waters... but then again, there's not a single natural lake in the entire state, so it's keeping with tradition. Tiger-muskie look incredible. I'm surprised someone hasn't made boots with that skin yet. Found only in one lake in the state way out in the panhandle near Kenton, literally almost to the New Mexico border. It's the humble Lake Carl Etling tucked neatly away inside the Black Mesa State Park and Nature Preserve, and the tiger-muskie has a storied past up on that mesa.

It started back in the 1960's. Northern Pike were introduced into this lake to create more sport fishing opportunities, and controlling the populations of other less desirable fish was on that same docket, but more the angling I'm guessing... For over thirty years, it was a destination to catch a Northern fish within our borders, but if you know pike, you know they don't grow very big. The 90's came, the drought set in, waters receded and the pike were killed off to protect what was left of the native species in the lake.

Fast foward to 2016, as the lake has bounced back, a new proposal hit the government grind asking permission to introduce the hybrid Tiger-Muskie species into the lake to once again help control unwanted species and give some great angling opportunities. The government allowed it. These new sport fish can be better regulated because they're raised in a lab and can't reproduce on their own. (Jurassic Park says differ) Anglers are excited because these fish are huge and very predatory, so the fighting of said fish looks to be something every angler should experience at least once. The population is doing so well in Lake Carl Etling that removing the harvest limit for these fish has been proposed going forward into 2021.

Google Maps
Google Maps

While not the kind of place you can drive to and fish in a day, it's certainly a cool destination to get away for a few days. Now, what do tiger-muskies bite on?

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