Oklahoma’s state fish, the white bass – sand bass or sandies as locals call them – is one of the most popular fish caught year-round in nearly every lake and many rivers in Oklahoma.
If a river runs into the lake, it probably has a healthy white bass population. Still, some lakes are better for catching sand bass than others, and we’re here to show you the very best waters to catch them.
Sandies are, pound for pound, one of the hardest-fighting fish swimming in Oklahoma waters, and they’re incredible table fare.
Catching a sand bass on every cast is not uncommon during the spawn in the spring, so you have a high chance of catching a lot of sandies in the spring.
The spawn heats up as the water temperatures increase to near 50 degrees and kicks into full effect as it reaches the upper 50’s.
This spawn usually takes place during March and April. You might catch the end of the spawn in early May if it’s been a colder spring than usual.
White bass will swim upstream into creeks and rivers to spawn by the thousands. They eat small shad, minnows and insects, so using a bait that mimics any of their primary food sources will work.
My favorite lure to use is a spinner like a Roostertail or Mepps, but I’ve had incredible days using lipless crankbaits and small jigs.
Sand bass will congregate in deep holes, mainly in or near submerged trees, but they will be swarming in the shallows on the best days during the peak season.
The spring isn’t the only time to catch white bass. Trolling during the summer is an excellent way to spend a Saturday afternoon with the family. Crankbaits and spoons are the best lures for trolling.
I prefer to troll just faster than idle, up and down the river because there is less water to cover than in the lake, but I’ve done well in lakes as well. Don’t be afraid to change your speed and lure to figure out what the fish prefer that day.
Suppose you’re on the lake and are lucky enough to see a Sand Bass feeding frenzy taking place. Cast into the middle of the madness and bring your lure through it immediately because you can catch a lot of fish. However, as fast as it starts, it stops, so you must act quickly.
During the summer, Sand Bass prefer sandy flats near a channel. They always follow their food, so if you’re seeing a lot of small baitfish in the area, that’s an excellent place to begin.
Now that you know the basics of where to find sandies and what bait to use, let’s talk about the best lakes and rivers in Oklahoma to catch them.
I’ve divided the state into five regions and given you my top recommendation in each area, as well as at least one “honorable mention” where I’m also confident you can put sandies in the fish box.
Most lakes in Northeastern Oklahoma will have thriving populations of white bass.
However, lakes along the Arkansas River and the river itself are some of the most popular sand bass fishing destinations in the state for a good reason: There are tons of sandies here.
The Arkansas River cuts the Northeastern section of the state nearly in half when it enters Oklahoma near Newkirk and winds its way through Tulsa, exiting the state at Fort Smith.
Several dams create reservoirs along the way, and they all have white bass.
Public access to the river is often challenging to find because nearly all the land up to the river bank is private. However, all the lakes along the river offer easy access and multiple boat ramps.
The best places to start are bridges, channel bends and riffles when fishing anywhere along the Arkansas River.
The bridges provide cover for their food and a place where white bass can hide to ambush their prey, and channel bends are a natural place where most fish species congregate.
Riffles or ripples help oxygenate the water while providing a safe resting place for sandies.
The Oklahoma state record white bass was caught in a tributary, the Verdigris River.
All the lakes along the Arkansas River are known for incredible sand bass fishing, including several we recommend in this article.
These reservoirs also can be great for other types of fishing, and several of them made our list of Best Catfishing Lakes in Oklahoma.
Below Pensacola Dam
Located just outside of Langley, Pensacola Dam is a GRDA hydropower dam on the Grand River, so it regularly has an outflow of water, and the current brings sand bass upstream earlier and for longer.
There is public access here, so it makes it a popular destination. It’s not uncommon to catch hybrid striped bass while fishing for white bass below the Pensacola Dam, which forms Grand Lake O’ the Cherokees.
Keystone Lake is just west of Sand Springs. Trolling the flats and near bridges with a crankbait or spoon is sure to get you a bite during the summer.
To catch white bass in the spring, simply head up a creek or the Arkansas River.
Keystone is perhaps most famous for being at the top of the best paddlefish (spoonbill) snagging spots in Oklahoma.
Robert S. Kerr Reservoir
Located south of Sallisaw, the northern end of Robert S. Kerr Reservoir has lots of shallow flats that make for excellent white bass fishing.
Head up any one of the creeks during the spring, and one of the hottest spots is where the Arkansas and the Canadian River meet.
The largest lake located entirely within Oklahoma, Eufaula Lake, has spectacular white bass fishing.
With many creeks and rivers, including the Canadian River and Deep Fork flowing into Lake Eufaula, it’s no surprise there are many excellent spots to check out around the lake.
The lake is about an hour and a half south of Tulsa, and only a little farther headed east from OKC, which is why it’s a popular destination for many sand bass anglers during the spring and summer months.
The southern end of Eufala Lake will begin to warm up first, so during the spring, start there and work your way north as the waters warm up.
Warm spring rains will draw fish to the mouths and backs of creeks, so be sure to check these locations when the time comes.
Multiple bridges cross the lake, and these are good spots to fish using a crankbait, spoon or jig during the summer.
The lake is too large to fish in a day, but there are campgrounds where you can stay with your family so you can cut down your time spent driving and head to one of the multiple boat ramps on the lake.
Broken Bow Lake
You can troll for sandies in Broken Bow Lake, but the best white bass fishing is during the spring run at the Narrows and the Shoals, where there is plenty of bank access if you don’t have a boat.
Once you fill your cooler with tasty sandies, the spring also is a good time to check out Lower Mountain Fork below the reservoir, one of the best trout fishing streams in Oklahoma.
Located just east of Norman on Highway 9, Lake Thunderbird doesn’t receive near the fishing pressure you would expect from a lake so close to a central metropolitan area.
Lake Thunderbird offers excellent sand bass fishing for bank and boat anglers.
The best places to begin during the spring are the Little River and the mouth of Rock Creek, while white bass are found throughout the lake during the summer.
The shallow sandy coves at the public access areas will be good locations when the sandies come up to feed at dawn and dusk.
The usual lures like grubs, lipless crankbaits and spoons will work well here. However, if you’re not getting bites, you should try switching to a red pattern of these baits instead of the traditional white, silver and chartreuse.
There are multiple boat ramps and campgrounds around the lake for the public to use. And many anglers enjoy using the fishing pier to catch other fish species like crappie. And though it didn’t make our Best Crappie Fishing Lakes in Oklahoma, it’s worth a shot if the sand bass aren’t biting.
Texoma has lots of creeks flowing into it, making it an excellent candidate for sand bass fishing.
The best-known creek for white bass fishing is Pennington Creek. There’s public access to the stream by walk-in only at the Tishomingo National Wildlife Refuge.
Low head dams prevent sand bass from continuing upstream until high water levels, so these spots tend to concentrate sandies are an excellent place to begin fishing.
Lake Texoma has a wide variety of fishing opportunities to keep you busy, including earning the nickname “Striper Capital of the World” thanks to some of the best striped bass fishing in Oklahoma (and also in Texas).
More: Lake Texoma Fishing
If you’re fishing Kaw Lake sand bass, be sure to head to Little Beaver Creek. There are a couple of public access areas where you can access the bank and have good luck catching sandies.
As usual, bridges are a hot spot, and the Newkirk Bridge is a prime area, but it requires a 4-wheel drive vehicle to reach it when the dirt roads are bad.
The state’s western side is less densely populated, which often means the lakes aren’t as pressured as the lakes farther east. That holds for Ft. Supply Lake.
Ft. Supply Lake
Relatively small, Ft. Supply Lake doesn’t have a major river flowing into it and only a handful of small creeks, including Wolf Creek.
Your best bet will be to fish the few creeks and coves during the spring while sticking to the wind blown shallow flats during the summer.
Trolling will give you the most opportunity to find a school of sandies, but if you’re without a boat, there is plenty of bank access where you can try your luck.
The US Corps of Engineers operates the campgrounds, boat ramps and swim beaches, so there will be plenty of activities to do for the whole family.
The North Canadian River is where the white bass spawn, but public access to the river is limited.So you will likely need a boat to reach the best sand bass fishing locations on Canton Lake during the peak fishing.
There are other public access spots around the lake where you can try your luck, especially during the summer.
Canton Lake also is known as one of Oklahoma’s best walleye lakes, so you might catch a bonus walleye while trolling for white bass.
It’s a close call between Lake Lawtonka and Lake Altus-Lugert, in deciding which one to name my top pick for white bass fishing.
Since we name Lake Lawtonka as one of the Best Bass Fishing Locations in Oklahoma, I decided to give Lake Altus-Lugert some love!
The lake only has a few creeks feeding into it, making springtime sand bass fishing easier. You have a limited number of places to check when they’re running.
The best location to catch white bass will be at the north end of Lake Altus-Lugert, where the North Fork of the Red River flows into the reservoir.
During the summer, trolling the flats with white or shiny lures around the lake will offer you the best chance of finding a school of sandies. The lake level fluctuates quite a bit, so check the water levels before heading out each day.
Quartz Mountain State Park offers camping, cabins, a lodge, hiking, biking, rock climbing, and many other outdoor activities for the whole family to enjoy if the fishing is slow.
Of course, we have to show Lake Lawtonka some love as well.
Sand bass head up Medicine Creek and Canyon Creek during the spring run.
During the summer months catching them schooling and hitting topwater is one of the most fun ways to catch white bass at Lake Lawtonka. This usually happens in the late evenings, and it’s best to use a popper or small spoon for these occasions.
Please not that you will need to purchase a City of Lawton fishing license to fish at Lake Lawtonka, on top of your state license.
There’s a reason that the white bass is Oklahoma’s state fish: They’re abundant in nearly every body of water.
And they’re a blast to catch and eat.
Even though your local lake may not have made the list (mine didn’t), that doesn’t mean you can’t have an unforgettable day out on the water sand bass fishing!