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Tim O'Connor of Oklahoma City landed his 14-lb., 1-oz. bass Feb. 28 from a private pond in Pottawatomie County. He was using a jig and craw setup, and he released the fish. O'Connor said he has caught other nice fish in private ponds this year as well. The big bass lands a number eight spot on the state's top 20 largemouth bass list.
A week later, on March 7, angler Jeremiah Johnson of Bristow landed a 14-lb., 5.9-oz. bass from Wetumka Lake for a number four spot on the top 20 list. His seven-foot Berkley rod was rigged with a red seven-inch Zellmander Carolina rig. The fish was 24 ¼ inches long and had a 21-inch girth. The live fish was turned over to Bass Pro Shops in Broken Arrow for display.
Though it may be rare to see two 14-pound bass caught in a week's time, it's not unusual for big bass to be caught this time of year in Oklahoma. A glance through the list of Oklahoma's top 20 largemouth bass reveals 17 fish caught in the months of February, March and April. Eight of those fish have been caught since 2001.
Johnson's fish also will go down as a Wetumka Lake record through the Wildlife Department's Lake Record Fish Program. Sportsmen can search lake record fish information, including the sizes of fish caught and what tackle was used to catch them, through a user-friendly search feature on the Wildlife Department's Web site at wildlifedepartment.com.
According to fisheries biologists with the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation, now through the next month is a great time to be fishing for not only big bass, but also for high numbers of bass as water temperatures warm and as spawning season approaches.
A number of good live and artificial bait choices are available including plastic worms, surface lures and assortments of jigs as well as live minnows and even worms.
"Anybody can catch a nice bass in Oklahoma," said Gene Gilliland, central region fisheries supervisor for the Wildlife Department. "The key is to be out there fishing, because you sure won't catch any while inside."
To fish in Oklahoma, anglers must have a state fishing license and a fishing and hunting legacy permit, unless exempt. Some municipalities and lakes also require anglers to carry special permits. Consult the current "Oklahoma Fishing Guide" for more information.
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