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Lower Illinois River a prime fishing spot

You can try your luck catching both trout and striped bass near Gore.
by Ed Godfrey Published: July 13, 2014

If you are looking for a summer fishing adventure, take a trip to the Lower Illinois River near Gore, where you can fish for both trout and striped bass.

The Lower Illinois River below Lake Tenkiller is one of two Oklahoma year-round trout streams, and it’s full of trout right now, according to Brandon Brown, fishery biologist for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation.

Brown and other Wildlife Department employees recently donned their snorkeling masks and surveyed the river. They found holes full of trout.

“Some nice ones, too,” he said.

Tom Adams, general manager for the Backwoods store in Oklahoma City who teaches a fly fishing class on the Lower Illinois, agrees.

“There are not a lot of places you can go as a citizen that is not private and catch more fish,” Adams said. “I’ve been there fishing when catching 40 or 50 per day is not a big deal.

“The water quality (of the river) is as good now as I have ever seen it. The bugs, the things that the trout eat, are in there in more numbers and more variety than we have ever seen before.”

Brown also said the water quality is currently the best he’s seen in two years, but he warns that might last only a couple of more weeks.

When Lake Tenkiller turns over, which should be happening soon, the water in the Lower Illinois may not be as clear, he said.

Trout are stocked weekly in the nearly eight miles of the Lower Illinois that runs from Tenkiller Dam to the U.S. highway 64 bridge. From there, the Lower Illinois flows into the Arkansas River.

There are several public access points along the stream, including one almost a mile section in the Watts Management Unit where trout is consistently stocked. Part of the trout fishing unit is restricted to use of artificial flies and lures only and barbless hooks.

The MarVal Family Resort on the river has been a popular campground for years. Camping also is available at Gore Landing, which also has a boat launching ramp.

In the hot days of summer, the best trout fishing is normally early in the morning before the power plant begins generating and in the upper half of the river, closer to the dam where the water stays colder.

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by Ed Godfrey
Copy Editor, Outdoors Editor, Rodeo, River Sports Reporter
Ed Godfrey was born in Muskogee and raised in Stigler. He has worked at The Oklahoman for 25 years. During that time, he has worked a myriad of beats for The Oklahoman including both the federal and county courthouse in Oklahoma City for more...
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