Oklahoma Removes Limits on Spotted Bass

By Oklahoma Dept of Wildlife Conservation

First posted on 01-19-2009

Slot limits, daily harvest limits and “catch and release” angling have long been important elements of developing good black bass fisheries, but a new regulation change for 2009 encourages anglers to keep and eat as many spotted bass as they can.

The new regulation is highlighted in the “2009 Oklahoma Fishing Guide,” a free, full-color publication of the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation. The guide is available now and is hitting shelves at fishing and hunting license dealers across the state.

According to biologists with the Department, spotted bass populations in most reservoirs are overabundant and slow growing, seldom providing quality bass fishing and using forage that could be better utilized by the more desirable predators such as largemouth and smallmouth bass, striped bass hybrids and walleye/saugeye. Exempting spotted bass from length limits and increasing the daily limit is intended to encourage more harvest of these fish as well as reduce competition for forage among other predators, improve overall fishing quality and remind anglers that harvest is a necessary component of a healthy fishery.

Keith Thomas, fisheries biologist for the Wildlife Department, said the regulation change is a good thing for anglers looking to fill their stringer.

“Here’s a great opportunity for folks to load up the ice chest and have a great shore lunch or fish fry,” Thomas said. “These fish school in large numbers, so once you locate them you’ll usually catch a good mess of them just like you would while crappie fishing.”

Thomas said spotted bass may not be as big as some largemouth bass, but the fact that the statewide limit has been lifted except in a few certain areas means you can harvest more of them for the dinnertable.

“To locate them, fish off of rocky points with steep drop offs,” Thomas said. “Use crayfish, minnows, small curly-tail grubs and small deep diving crankbaits.’”

Thomas said the nicknames and even the scientific name for the fish — Micropterus punctulatus — lend some insight into distinguishing spotted bass from other black bass.

“Spotted bass are also called ‘Kentucky bass,’ ‘spots’ and ‘diamond bass,’” he said. “The scientific name translates to ‘small-finned and dotted.’ You can look at the belly scales and most will have a dark green or black spot. Smallmouth bass and largemouth bass will have very few or no spots.”

For legal identification purposes, a spotted bass is any black bass, except for smallmouth, having a rough tongue patch.

Thomas’ advice to anglers is simple.

“Anglers, help improve fishing at your favorite lake and harvest some spotted bass,” Thomas said.

The “2009 Oklahoma Fishing Guide” details special regulation areas where the regulation change may not apply. It also outlines other new regulation changes for 2009. In addition, it includes a full listing of all fishing regulations for Oklahoma as well as a wide range of fishing-related articles and other helpful information such as contacts for Department lakes, “Close to Home” fishing locations, game warden phone numbers, license fees and fish identification tips.

Anglers also can find the “2009 Oklahoma Fishing Guide” and buy fishing licenses online by logging on to wildlifedepartment.com. The Web site provides a weekly fishing report where anglers can find out how some of the state’s most popular game fish are biting and what baits are working best at different fishing locations. Compiled by Wildlife Department personnel and independent reporters, the reports even include techniques and locations to increase angler success. The weekly fishing report can be received weekly by e-mail, along with other wildlife news from the Department.