10 Best Trout Fishing Rivers & Lakes in Oklahoma

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Most people think of traveling to a remote mountain stream when they think of trout fishing. That’s not the case for trout fishing in Oklahoma.

Trout are not native to Oklahoma waters, but they’ve been here since planting started in the 1950s.

These days the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation (ODWC) stocks rainbow trout throughout the state in eight main locations when the water conditions are conducive for trout survival.

Brown trout are stocked at two locations when available but aren’t as prevalent as the rainbows.

Aside from the two major trout rivers we’ll tell you about, most Oklahoma trout fishing occurs primarily starting in late fall and lasting through the winter months and into early spring.

The trout fishing locations provide opportunities to anglers of all skill levels across the state in different environments, including rivers, lakes and ponds.

You don’t necessarily have to visit these locations directly after a stocking, although fishing will naturally be best when there are more trout to catch. Enough trout are usually stocked in these waters to have opportunities to catch trout between stocking dates.

5 Best Trout Fishing Spots In Oklahoma

Let’s get this out right up front: The following are the most fabulous five places to catch trout in the Sooner State.

You’ll find more information about each location below, where we detail trout fishing opportunities in major regions of Oklahoma.

  1. Lower Mountain Fork / Beavers Bend – Year Round – Southeast
  2. Lower Illinois River – Year Round – Northeast
  3. Blue River – Winter Only – Southeast
  4. Robbers Cave – Winter Only- Southeast
  5. Sunset Lake- Winter Only- Northwest

Trout Fishing in Northeast Oklahoma

Northeast Oklahoma has three popular trout fishing locations: Lower Illinois River, Perry CCC, and the Veterans Park Pond. All three locations offer anglers ample opportunities to catch rainbow trout.

Lower Illinois River

Located near Gore, a little over an hour southeast of Tulsa, the Lower Illinois River flows out of beautiful Lake Tenkiller.

This river is crystal clear cold water, which is perfect for supporting this year-round trout fishery, which is the oldest in Oklahoma. The ODWC regularly stocks rainbow trout throughout the year and brown trout when they are available.

There are several public access points along 7.75 miles of the river where anglers can park and walk to the river.

If you have a kayak or canoe and plan your trip carefully, you can float and fish your way down the river. 

The Lower Illinois River flows past a family campground with RV hookups, tent sites, and rental cabins, so visiting for the week or weekend is an option.

Fly fishing is the most popular way to catch trout along the river, as it’s one of the few fly fishing streams for trout in these parts.

However, if you aren’t an expert fly angler, using ultralight spinning gear is the most effective way for many people to catch trout here. Set your drag to play larger fish, as the Lower Illinois River has produced rainbow trout over 11 pounds.

Speaking of big fish that might grab your hook, the Lower Illinois River also produces some of the best striped bass fishing in Oklahoma, including setting the current record of 47.5 pounds.

Lake Tenkiller itself is more of a warm water fishing lake, including scoring an honorable mention on our list of best bass fishing lakes in Oklahoma.

More: Fishing the Lower Illinois River

Perry CCC Lake

Located two miles from Perry and an hour north of Oklahoma City, Perry Lake is usually stocked with rainbow trout from November through March.

The boat ramp, picnic areas and park are maintained by the City of Perry, offering more fishing access besides fishing from the bank and special regulations

Camping is available near this 32-acre lake.

Honestly, Perry Lake is probably not what most people think of when they think of trout fishing. The surrounding countryside is relatively flat, with a few trees sparsely populating the shoreline.

Perry Lake is a great place to bring someone to fish for the first time. The gently sloping banks with lots of access mean it’s easy to get down to the water. It’s also an excellent place for fly fishing or using spinning gear.

PowerBait and small spinners will be the best baits and lures. Locate the brush piles and depth changes to have the best chance of finding the trout.

Veterans Park Pond

Veterans Park Pond near Tulsa is not your typical trout fishing location. However, it provides hundreds of anglers the chance to catch rainbow trout who usually wouldn’t have the opportunity.

Located in the city of Jenks directly north of the Creek Turnpike, Veterans Park Pond is a popular trout fishing destination during the winter.

Rainbow trout are typically stocked from December through February, when this small body of water is usually cold enough to sustain trout.

You can fish from the bank or the docks, but wading or kayaking is not allowed.

It’s the perfect place to introduce someone to the thrills of trout fishing. Most anglers use spinning gear and PowerBait, but fly fishing is not uncommon here.

Trout Fishing in Southeast Oklahoma

Southeastern Oklahoma offers some of the best trout fishing locations in the state, including our top choice in the state.

Blue River

Blue River is located near Tishomingo, close to the Texas border. It is stocked with rainbow trout every two weeks from November until about March 1. There are over six miles of wadeable stream open to the public.

This shallow clear water river provides breathtaking views while fly fishing or conventional angling.

Blue River is spring-fed and differs significantly from typical muddy Oklahoma rivers. Small cascading waterfalls are very common along the Blue River.

The most popular technique along the Blue River is fly fishing, but you can just as easily catch trout using a spinning setup with PowerBait or a small lure such as a spoon.

Waders are highly recommended to have the best chance of catching trout here. Don’t forget to check the special regulations before heading out!

More: Fishing the Blue River

Lower Mountain Fork / Beavers Bend

A pair of cypress trees stick out of Lower Mountain Fork in Beavers Bend State Park, one of the best trout fishing locations in Oklahoma.
Photo courtesy of Wesley Littlefield

With several access points along the 12 miles of scenic river downstream from Broken Bow Lake, Lower Mountain Fork River and Beavers Bend State Park offer Oklahoma’s best opportunity to catch rainbow trout and brown trout. 

Within the state park, you can fish in the designated areas from the bank or by wading.

Be sure to check the regulations because certain areas are restricted to use of artificial lures and barbless hooks only.

Renting a kayak to access other portions of the river is a great way to find less pressured fish. Several companies will shuttle you for a float down the river.

Nearly four hours from Oklahoma City (and actually a little closer to Dallas or Little Rock), you’ll probably want to plan a few days here.

Beavers Bend has full RV hookups, tent camping and rental cabins. Cabins are also available just outside of the state park, so you don’t have an excuse for a place to stay. 

Not only are the views incredible, but trout fishing is also second to none within the state. Plus, a 17-pound-plus brown trout caught here has a spot in the Oklahoma Game Fish Records.

With brown trout and rainbow trout being stocked below Broken Bow Dam all year, it’s no wonder why so many trout anglers visit the Lower Mountain Fork every year.

Fly fishing is the most popular way to catch trout here. However, trout are regularly caught using spinning gear with artificial lures or PowerBait.

Brown trout over 17 pounds have been caught at the Lower Mountain Fork.

Upriver, Broken Bow Lake is one of the best fishing holes in the state for several other species, including great bass fishing, and a top prospect for the best crappie fishing in Oklahoma.

More: Fishing the Lower Mountain Fork River at Beavers Bend

Robbers Cave

Stocked with rainbow trout from November into mid-March, Fourche Maline offers anglers 1.5 miles of trout fishing within Robbers Cave State Park, near Wilburton.

Bank access is very good in the park. You can fish from the bank or wade into Fourche Maline.

As with most trout fishing locations, and streams in particular, fly fishing will be the preferred method by many anglers at Robbers Cave. However, spinning gear is often more effective.

Camping is available at the state park with RV hookups and cabins.

Trout Fishing in Central Oklahoma

The rolling hills of Central Oklahoma are not the landscape that ignites trout fishing enthusiasts’ imaginations.

When those rolling hills transform into the concrete jungle, many people are surprised to find out that two city parks offer trout fishing opportunities throughout the winter in the heart of Oklahoma City.

Edwards Park and Route 66 Park in OKC

The ODWC formerly stocked Dolese Youth Park Pond but now is focusing on these two parks for trout plants. It always pays to keep and eye out for updates as stocking schedules may shift over time.

Trout are likely to be stocked at these park lakes in December, January and February.

These parks offer citizens on both sides of the city the chance to go trout fishing without leaving the city behind.

Edwards Park is on the east side, at 1515 N. Bryant Ave., just off Interstate 35. Route 66 Park is on the west side, at 9901 N.W. 23rd., on the western bank of Lake Overholser.

An Oklahoma City fishing permit is required to fish at the city ponds. Bank fishing is the only acceptable way to fish. Kayaking or wading is NOT allowed.

PowerBait will be the most reliable (and easiest) way to catch freshly planted trout at these locations. However, don’t be afraid to use fly fishing gear.

If you find the trout are not biting, try artificial salmon eggs or casting SuperDuper spoons.

Trout Fishing in Western Oklahoma

Western Oklahoma has three main trout fishing opportunities at Sunset Lake, Lake Watonga, and Medicine Creek.

These locations are widely spaced out to give all of Oklahoma’s trout fishing enthusiasts the ability to catch rainbow trout, no matter where they live.

Sunset Lake

This small 11-acre lake gives the citizens of Northwest Oklahoma, or more accurately, residents of the panhandle, the opportunity to catch trout from November through March. 

There is plenty of bank access due to a hiking trail that encompasses the lake. You also can fish from the dock, but boats are NOT allowed.

If you’re passing through, there is lodging available in Guymon, not far from the lake.

Because these are stocked trout, using PowerBait that looks and smells like the food they’ve been fed in rearing ponds will often work best.

However, that doesn’t mean they won’t bite a fly or natural-looking lures, as even hatchery trout maintain some of their wild instincts when it comes to finding food.

Also note that Lake Carl Etling in the far-western Panhandle’s Black Mesa State Park has at times been planted with trout, but not as consistently as other waters covered in this article.

Lake Watonga

Editor’s note: According to the ODWC website, trout again will NOT be stocked during the 2022-2023 winter due to low water and dam repairs, but Boecher Lake, just on the other side of a dike at the southern end of Watonga, was slated to get trout.

Located seven miles north of Watonga and bordering Roman Nose State Park, Lake Watonga most years is stocked with rainbow trout from November through March.

Roman Nose State Park offers excellent recreational and lodging opportunities about an hour and a half northwest of Oklahoma City.

The boat ramp is inside the state park, along with picnic areas, camping sites and cabins. The state park also offers the ability to access a large portion of the shoreline.

Fishing from a boat will give you the best opportunity to catch trout. However, trout regularly move shallow in cooler water, so fishing from the bank is still feasible.

Spinning gear will be the most effective way to locate trout. Once you have found them, then you could break out the fly fishing gear if you wish.

Trout eventually will spread out from where they were stocked, but it never hurts to begin near that location. Most of the time, the ODWC will stock trout near the boat ramp.

Medicine Creek

In Southwestern Oklahoma, just outside the Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge, you will find Medicine Creek stocked with trout from November through March.

Stretching only a mile in length, this little area attracts visitors to Medicine Creek Park in Lawton in hopes of catching a trout.

There is very easy access along the east side of the creek from a sidewalk; however, reaching the water on the west side is a bit more treacherous. There is little need to wade because you can easily cast across the creek.

There is enough room to cast spinning gear. Fly fishing can become cramped at times in this small area. 

How to Catch Trout

The trout that are stocked in state of Oklahoma waters typically come from hatcheries out of state, such as Arkansas and New Mexico.

Since they are raised in artificial conditions, they don’t act exactly like wild trout. Many believe fishery-raised trout are not as “smart” as wild trout. They haven’t polished the survival instincts or capabilities of their wild-born cousins.

Knowing this should change your approach when trying to catch a rainbow trout in in Oklahoma. The gear you need will be slightly different, the techniques you use will vary, but the time and areas you go will be similar.

The Gear You Need

Die-hard trout angler might tell you the only way to catch a trout is with a fly rod and reel. We don’t share this feeling.

While catching them with a fly rod is undoubtedly a blast and takes a fair bit of skill, various types of fishing gear can be used, and you often can put your panfish and lighter bass gear to use for trout.

If you plan to fly fish the traditional way, you will need a fly rod and reel, artificial flies, waders, a net, and a stringer. You can fly fish without waders; however, waders give you an advantage you simply can’t get standing on the bank.

If you plan to use spinning gear, you will need a spinning rod and reel, bait or lures, waders, a net and a stringer. You don’t have to have waders if you can cast to your fishing spot, but they still give you an advantage. 

You only need a stringer if you plan on keeping the trout you catch. Read the trout regulations to ensure you are using the correct gear for the area you are fishing. Some trout fishing areas in Oklahoma require barbless hooks, and other areas don’t allow some baits. 

You will have to experiment with the baits and lures you use.

Specific flies work best during certain times of the year because you can match the natural hatches of insects that trout are feeding on. You can find a helpful chart on the ODWC website.

Conventional tackle anglers should experiment with different types of colors of baits and lures. Spin anglers also can use flies, especially by employing a casting bubble or trolling very, very slowly behind a boat or float tube. 

The Techniques To Use

While traditional fly fishing, you can use an indicator, sinking flies or dry flies. You can fly fish from the bank or strap your waders on to step into the cold water.

When fly fishing, often you will want to stay out of their eyesight down below, then cast upstream of the trout and allow the fly to drift downstream toward the fish. Wiser and larger trout will tend to stop feeding if they know people are near.

With spinning gear, you also have several options. You can use lures, a bobber with sinking bait, or weights with floating bait just above the bottom.

When using spinning gear, you want to cast near where the trout are without spooking them, so favor smaller lines, weights and lures in most cases.

Best Times To Fish

Trout are most active at sunrise and the early morning hours when light and water temperatures are at their lowest.

During mid-day, they tend to slow down or stop biting and search for a shady spot.

As the day progresses into the evening, the bite will pick back up as the trout start to feed again. 

The Areas To Fish

Once you arrive at your destination, you will still need to choose a spot to fish.

At most trout fisheries in Oklahoma, if there are many people at a particular site, the fishing is probably good.

However, in almost every area, there are spots that few people are able and willing to go to reach “secret honey holes” that can turn a bad day of fishing into the best day ever!

These honey holes are regularly a deep area with brush or structure for the trout to hide out in and ambush approaching prey.

If you’re fishing a stream or river, any kind of current break can hold fish. A big rock or tree limb could cause a current break, as might a bend in the channel, allowing the trout to avoid fighting the current all day but still be able to dart out and snatch a drifting morsel.

More Trout Catching Tips

Find a full article on the best ways to catch trout here: Trout Fishing: How-To Techniques and Tips.

More Oklahoma Trout Fishing Info

For more information on trout fishing in Oklahoma, check the ODWC website.