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More on the former glory days of Purcell City Lake

by Ed Godfrey Published: August 26, 2009
Jon Matlock of Oklahoma City with the new lake record largemouth bass from the Purcell City Lake
Jon Matlock of Oklahoma City with the new lake record largemouth bass from the Purcell City Lake

Last Sunday’s column about the bass fishing at Purcell City Lake brought back some memories for Kenneth Harris of Wayne.
Harris called to let me know that the Purcell City Lake once was rated the No. 1 small lake in the state for bass fishing.
So I checked The Oklahoman archives and sure enough, in 1989, Purcell topped the list of best small bass lakes based on the state Wildlife Department’s electrofishing surveys.
“It was a super little hot hole,” Harris said.
Harris concurred with Gene Gilliland, fisheries biologist for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation, who said the bass fishing was ruined at the lake when the city added thousands of grass carp to control the thick vegetation.
“Where there’s grass, there’s bass,” said Harris, repeating a famous bass fisherman’s adage.
Harris said he used to take a half-ounce Rat-L-Trap and rip through that moss, fishing for bass.
The city put more grass carp than what state wildlife officials recommended, then when they did not see immediate success, added a bunch more, Gilliland said.
All the vegetation eventually was destroyed. State wildlife officials have been trying to grow aquatic plants in the lake in an attempt to bring back the bass fishing.  
“At one time it was a great lake,” Harris said. “When they came in and killed all of that grass, it just ruined that.”
Years ago, Harris used to fish with the Heart of Oklahoma Bass Club at Purcell, and recalled the time a fellow angler lost an 8-pound bass in a tournament when the fish opened the hook on a metal stringer.
“I’ve had three on the scales well over 5 pounds (from Purcell),” he said.
Harris said he was shocked when he saw the photo in Sunday’s newspaper of Jon Matlock’s 6-pound, 14-ounce largemouth caught in April at the Purcell City Lake.
Now, he is thinking about giving the bass fishing at Purcell another try.
“It excited me to see that article,” he said.
If Harris does go bass fishing at Purcell, I hope he catches some.
If not, he may never read another one of my columns.

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by Ed Godfrey
Reporter Sr.
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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