On March 23, 2012, Oklahoma angler Benny Williams Jr. of Poteau hauled in new state record largemouth bass at 78-acre Cedar Lake in Le Flore County. Days later, on March 31, angler Ryan Wasser of Pocasset reeled in a new state record smallmouth bass at Lake Lawtonka.
The largemouth weighed 14 pounds, 12.3 ounces. The smallmouth was 8 pounds, 7 ounces.
“A big deal”
Williams’ largemouth, at 14 pounds, 12.3 ounces, broke a state record that was set in 1999. Williams caught his lunker about 11 a.m. on a ¼ ounce Strike King jig. The fish measured 26 inches long and 22 3/8 inches in girth.
“Catching the state record largemouth bass in Oklahoma is a big deal, and catching a fish this large is a big deal,” said Barry Bolton, chief of fisheries for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation.
The last two state record largemouth bass, as well as several from the state’s Top 20 Largemouth Bass List, have been caught in the southern and southeastern regions of the state. Lakes in that region tend to warm up earlier and cool off later in the year than in other regions, which affords these fish a longer growing season.
Gene Gilliland, assistant chief of fisheries, said Cedar Lake has been known to produce big largemouth bass for anglers in recent years — not just because of its southeastern location, but also because it has received Florida strain largemouth bass through the state’s fish stocking program.
“Huge anywhere in the country”
Wasser was preparing for an upcoming local fishing tournament at Lawtonka when he hooked his record smallmouth. At 8 pounds 7 ounces, the fish outweighed the previous record smallmouth by 4 ounces.
Wasser caught the bass on a ¼ ounce shaky head lure rigged with a finesse worm and 10 pound test line. His smallmouth measured 23 1/8 inches long and 18 inches in girth.
“I was fishing in less than 5 feet of water when the bass bit,” Wasser said. He was fishing with his mother and his 6-year-old son when he caught the fish.
Wasser said, “None of us have seen one even close to that big. Definitely more than a dream-come-true experience that none of us will ever forget.”
Gilliland said Lake Lawtonka was one of the first lakes in the state to be stocked with Tennessee strain smallmouth bass, which grow larger and are seemingly more adaptable to large lake environments than the state’s native strain of smallmouth bass that inhabit the many Ozark and Ouachita streams and rivers of eastern Oklahoma.
“An 8-pound smallmouth is huge anywhere in the country,” Gilliland said.
Currently all but one of the Oklahoma state record black bass in the books — which include smallmouth, largemouth, spotted and hybrid black bass — have been caught in March.
Bolton said these new records “speak to the quality of fishing we have in Oklahoma and also to the anglers who get out there and fish for them.”
Anglers who believe they may have hooked a record fish must weigh the fish on an Oklahoma State Department of Agriculture certified scale, and a Wildlife Department employee must verify the weight. For a complete list of record fish and the procedures for certifying a state record, look elsewhere in this guide or go online to wildlifedepartment.com.
Regulations in red are new this year.
Purple text indicates an important note.