March is big bass month in Oklahoma. Ten of the top 13 fish on the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation's top 20 largemouth bass list were landed in March.
Already this year, Arbuckle Lake has produced a 13-plus pound bass while Broken Bow, McGee Creek and Texoma have coughed up near or 12-plus pounders. The lunker from Texoma is a new lake record.
Royce Harlan, the former owner of Nichols Marine in Norman and an Oklahoma City native, caught the 12-pound, 6-ounce lake record on a Carolina rig last weekend while fishing in a bass tournament that he and his partner won with a 25.54-pound sack. He released the fish after the weigh in.
Harlan, who has retired to the Lake Texoma area, now has two Lake Texoma records. He caught a lake record spotted bass two years ago in March.
Lake Watonga also produced a 13-pound largemouth bass last weekend but it wasn't caught on a rod and reel. An angler fishing in the Watonga Trout Derby saw a fish struggling on the surface so he reached down and grabbed it with his hand.
The largemouth bass weighed 13 pounds, 6 ounces. The angler gave the fish to the game warden and John Stahl, northwest fisheries supervisor for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation, said it was the same fish state wildlife officials had shocked in their spring electro-fishing surveys last year.
“We knew this bass,” Stahl said. “It had an unusual black spot on its head. I called her Ole' Spot. I kind of lost a pet there.”
Last spring, Ole' Spot weighed in at 12 pounds during the spring electro-fishing survey. Feeding on the rainbow trout that gets stocked in Watonga Lake, the fish had grown by pound and half in one year.
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