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The Wildlife Department has been collecting standardized statewide data on competitive bass fishing for 16 years, and biologists with the Wildlife Department say the success of tournament anglers offers important information about the quality of angling in Oklahoma. "With over a half million acres of public water to manage, ODWC fisheries personnel cannot sample every lake every year," said Gene Gilliland, central region fisheries supervisor for the Wildlife Department. Tournament data allows us to monitor fishing success on an annual basis."
Reports were received from 439 tournaments in 2009, which is up from the 405 submitted in 2008 but still down from the average of over 700 prior to 2005. Reports came in from 46 lakes compared to as many as 61 lakes in previous years.
The all-time high average winning weight of 14.19 lbs. for tournaments in 2009 surpasses last years record by more than a pound.
According to the 2009 report, the heaviest one-day five-bass limit weighed 31.78 lbs. from Arbuckle Lake, up from last years heaviest haul of 28.73 lbs., also from Arbuckle. The largest bass reported from tournaments was 12.18 lbs. from McGee Creek. Arbuckle, however, reported the most bass over eight pounds. This south-central lake produced 15 bass over eight pounds in tournaments that sent in reports.
The trophy-producing Arbuckle Lake also claimed the top spot on the Wildlife Departments list of Top 20 lakes, a compilation of rankings based on tournament report data that considers five indicators — percent success, average weight, average first-place weight, average number caught per hour and average hours per five-pound bass. A minimum of eight reports were required from lakes to be considered for the Top 20 List. Second place on the Top 20 List by only one point went to Hugo, followed by Ft. Gibson, Oologah and Okemah. The full list can be found in the report.
According to biologists with the Wildlife Department, results in the report are only as good as the data received from tournament organizations, and response rates from organizations were down from previous years.
"If we receive results from a low percentage of the tournaments on a given lake, a few really good or really bad days can skew the averages and leave us with a poor representation of the quality of the bass fishing on that body of water," Gilliland said.
The Department collects the data on "tournament report cards" that are submitted by tournament directors or through the Internet.