Lake Lawtonka in Southwest Oklahoma is a gem hidden on the edge of the Wichita Mountains, under the watch of nearby Mount Scott.
This reservoir, with nearly 2,400 surface acres just north of Lawton, is the perfect location for a day of fishing or a weekend getaway.
Enjoy beautiful views while fishing, boating, swimming and camping.
This lake has produced state-record smallmouth in the past, and with the Oklahoma Wildlife Department of Conservation (ODWC) stocking Florida-strain largemouth, the bass coming out of here will only be getting bigger.
Lake Lawtonka is a medium-sized lake with some of the best fishing in the state, yet it’s not as pressured as other lakes in the state.
While this might mean fishing is a bit easier than some locations, it’s still a popular lake for locals and not much over an hour’s drive from Oklahoma City. So don’t expect the fish to be jumping into your arms.
As the ODWC continues stocking Florida-strain largemouth in Lake Lawtonka, I suspect it will become one of the best largemouth bass fishing fisheries in the state.
It’s already one of the best bass fishing lakes in the southwestern portion of Oklahoma.
Largemouth bass fishing here is very similar to anywhere else. The best places will be where the structure is close by, and there is abundant food.
Typically along the rocky banks and around brush piles.
There are not many docks on the lake to fish, so be prepared to fish from the shoreline or by boat.
Sunfish and crawdads will be the primary food sources for bass, so matching lures that resemble these prey species will have the best results.
Reds, blacks, greens and chartreuses will be the primary colors, but don’t be afraid to venture out of the ordinary to help your lure stand out from others that the bass have seen.
Lake Lawtonka shines for smallmouth bass fishing. The clear water is ideal for growing big smallmouth.
Despite being a small lake, the Oklahoma state record was caught here as of this writing.
Catching smallmouth usually requires a boat because they tend to school in deeper water around rock and brush piles.
They thrive in cooler water, so during the summer, they’ll find the deep holes to hang out in, but during the spring, they’ll move shallow to spawn in areas with a gravel or sand bottom.
Crawdads, helgramites (insect larva) and small fish are the primary food source for smallmouth, so keeping your lures smaller than you might for largemouth will mean you will get more bites.
I prefer to keep my colors as natural as possible when fishing for smallmouth.
One of my favorite lures that most overlook is a Mepps or Rooster Tail spinner. Smallmouth will devour these lures; they don’t require a complex technique to use correctly, which is why I love them.
The treble hooks the lures come equipped with aren’t suitable for using around brush and grass, but it’s tough to beat a Mepps or Rooster Tail everywhere else. (Some anglers will switch out the treble for a siwash-style single-pointed hook.)
Catch More Bass
Find all kinds of tips, lure suggestions and more tactics in our easy guide to bass fishing tips and techniques.
Oklahoma’s state fish, the white bass (a.k.a. sand bass), is one of the hardest fighting fish that inhabits Oklahoma waters.
During the spring, they will run up the creeks to spawn. This is when they’re easiest to catch because there are so many in a confined area.
However, during the summer and fall, they patrol the open waters of the main lake in search of schools of shad to fee upon.
The best way to catch them during the summer and early fall is by trolling along flats and creek channels using spoons and lipless crankbaits. Medicine Creek is the main tributary feeding Lake Lawtonka, and white bass also run up Canyon Creek.
Tightly hold onto the rod and reel because these fish will jerk the pole out of your hand if you’re not paying attention. I’ve nearly lost a pole or two!
I use my bass fishing gear to catch sand bass, so there’s no need to purchase new equipment specifically suited for white bass.
We rate Lawtonka as an honorable mention among the best white bass fishing spots in Oklahoma. Find the rest in our quick guide to Sooner State sand bass fishing.
If you’re looking for a way to feed your family, you’ll probably be targeting catfish.
Lake Lawtonka has both blue catfish and channel catfish. Both are delicious as long as you keep the ones 15 pounds or smaller.
Most catfish you will catch will be in this range, but there’s always a chance of catching a really big one!
They are scavengers, so they eat pretty much anything. The best baits to use are cut bait, live shad and sunfish. You can also purchase stink bait or use chicken liver.
Catching catfish on rod and reel is always fun, but you’ll need heavy-duty gear if you’re chasing the big fish.
However, don’t rush out and buy a bunch of new catfish gear if you’re not going to regularly fish for the largest catfish. Heavy bass fishing rods and reels will work for catfish smaller than 15 pounds.
You will need big hooks. I prefer circle hooks, but for some stink bait, treble hooks work best.
One of the best things about catfishing is that it can easily be done from shore with great success.
The best location is usually on a flat near a creek channel. The catfish will use the flat to feed and the channel to move from one place to another.
If you’re looking for catfish, check out the best catfishing waters in Oklahoma and also pick up some more angling tips and top baits in our easy catfish fishing guide.
“Saugeye have rejuvenated fishing at lakes Ft. Cobb, Tom Steed, and Lawtonka – all historically prime walleye waters. Recent netting samples confirmed that saugeye numbers now rival peak walleye abundances in the “heydays” at each of these lakes.” – ODWC.
Saugeye are less common in Oklahoma than many other fish, but they’re stocked in Lake Lawtonka, making it one of the best places to catch them!
A saugeye is a cross between a walleye and a sauger, which is why most people have difficulty telling the differences between these species.
They primarily eat fish, especially crappie, so lures like crankbaits and jigs are often the best way to catch them. You’ll find them hunting for their next meal along the bottom of sandbars, ledges, and drop-offs.
A spinning rod and reel will be sufficient to catch these fish but before you take one home, check the regulations because there is a length limit.
Crappie are another excellent eating fish that can swim somewhat under the radar at Lake Lawtonka, even though at times it deserves a spot among the best crappie fishing lakes in Oklahoma.
Crappie numbers are often cyclical, with a couple of great fishing years often followed by some down years.
Looking for crappie, you’ll want to key in on structure, which at Lawtonka will include brush piles and creeks channels.
In the spring, schools of crappie will move into shallow water to spawn, and that’s often the easiest time of year to catch them in good numbers.
In the summer and also in cold weather, crappie tend to move into deeper water but will still usually stage themselves near some time of structure. A fish finder is helpful in locating schools, especially when in deeper water.
Find a bunch more crappie fishing methods and extra tips to catch more of these panfish.
Lawtonka Fishing Tips
Lake Lawtonka is located in a predominantly rural portion of the state. However, since it is close to Lawton, it gets a lot of attention during the summer from boaters and skiers.
The following tips will help you catch more fish at this unique lake.
When To Fish
The best fishing is often early morning. Getting on the water before sunrise gives you the best chance of success because the fish are typically more active, and you’ll beat the crowds.
In the evening is another good time to go fishing. As the sun sets, fish will become more active, especially saugeye, which like walleye are very light sensitive.
Spring is when most fish spawn; during this time, they’re hungry and much easier to catch than other times of the year.
In the summer, fish often search for cooler water because it has more oxygen.
During the fall, fish are feeding to store energy for the winter. Many anglers overlook this time of year, but it can be excellent fishing.
Fishing in the winter usually means waiting until late morning or midday to give the water a chance to warm up a little and allow the fish to be more active.
Where To Fish
Most fish will spend their time around structure. Structure can mean anything from a ledge, rock pile, brush pile, or transition from one type of bottom to another.
Creek mouths are always high-percentage areas because the current will bring more food into the lake, and there’s also usually a lot of structure for the predator fish to use for cover.
Tips & Tactics
You’ll have the greatest success from a boat or kayak because you can get to areas that bank anglers can’t.
If you’re a bank angler, look for subtle differences along the shore to give clues about how the bottom might look. Fishing transition areas usually provide the best results.
Watch the birds like herons and seagulls. If they’re feeding, that usually means the fish are feeding, so you should use fast-moving lures. If the birds hang out in the trees, it’s time to use slow-moving lures or live bait.
Planning Your Trip
There are many things to do besides fishing at Lawtonka Lake and the surrounding area. Swimming, hiking, camping and wildlife watching are a few favorite things that you and your family can do.
Though small by eastern Oklahoma standards, Lawtonka is among the largest water bodies in the drier western part of the state. It’s a water supply reservoir for Lawton and Fort Sill.
Getting To Lawtonka Lake
Lake Lawtonka is in Comanche County just 20 or so minutes northwest of Lawton, at the smaller community of Medicine Park. It’ll take you a little over an hour to drive there from the Oklahoma City.
Highway 58 travels along the east side of the lake, where most of the lake access is available.
There is bank access all around the lake, which has 21 miles of shoreline. Some areas are more challenging to get to than others because the terrain is rough.
A campground and day-use areas have plenty of access to the lake for swimming and fishing.
Additional fishing and recreation is available at several other nearby lakes, including Lake Elmer Thomas and Lake Ellsworth.
The city of Lawton has a boat ramp open to the public at School House Slough, in the southeast corner of the reservoir. The marinas operate a couple of other boat ramps, so you won’t have trouble getting your boat on the water.
Camping & Accommodations
The city of Lawton also maintains the campgrounds. They have electric hook-ups but only allow one RV per site.
You’ll find more information from Lawton’s Lakes Division.