Ask a Tulsa local where they like to fish and chance are they will tell you about Keystone, Eufala and other massive reservoirs miles outside of the city. These lakes are great places to wet a line, but often overlooked by these fishermen are the myriad of fishing opportunities in urban Tulsa. Many of these are places not commonly thought of as fishing destinations, but they make for a great places for a few hours of relaxed fishing with friends.
Many of the public parks in Tulsa have small ponds available to the public for fishing, like Hunter Park in south Tulsa. Some of these ponds are located near jogging and biking paths or playgrounds, and are generally pretty small. However, they are stocked with fish and often hold a mixture of warm-water species, including largemouth, bluegill and catfish. These places are great for taking people just learning to fish, as they are easy to find and often just a short drive. Stunted fish in these ponds may present a problem to catching many big fish and the water is often very clear. Still, there’s many ponds in Tulsa like these and plenty of fish to catch in them!
The Arkansas River almost always ignored by most locals, except for the catfish fishing that people do by the dam/spillway near Downtown Tulsa. This is a blessing for people looking for a challenging fishing experience with many different types of fish to be caught. The Riverside trail, along the Arkansas River, offers excellent bank access to miles of river bank fishing areas, most that rarely see fishermen. The Arkansas can be a very intimidating river to fish, especially with its highly-fluctuating water clarity and levels, but its not impossible to be (relatively) consistently successful on it. The key is to find areas with good structure and cover. Tributaries running into the river offer great locations when the conditions are right. Fall seems to be the best time, with water levels not too high or low and water clarity optimal for fishing. The Arkansas holds a massive array of fish species, with everything from carp, gar, catfish, stripers, largemouth, white bass and sunfish being caught year-round in it. Some of the fish are quite large, with little to fear from anglers who rarely target them.
Finally, there are many wetlands around the Tulsa area that simply do not get fished. The ones most likely to hold fish include are near creeks and rivers. These watersheds will periodically flood, filling the surrounding ponds and wetlands with water and fish. Some of these places have public hiking and biking trails through them, aiding the adventurous angler in accessing them. Others are more off of the beaten path and require considerable off-roading to reach them. Always respect others property when exploring these places and also beware of the snakes and other natural hazards. Cottonmouths are often present in these locations, so be especially wary! These wetlands and ponds hold many different kinds of warm water fish, with some large populations of simply enormous carp. Carp, while often reviled by many American fishermen, offer a great fishing species and are a blast to catch, fighting harder than many other fish. Water visibility is often an issue in these places, so take that into account when choosing what lure of bait to use.
Tulsa has many places to fish, often within biking or short car trip range. These little gems are a great way to relax for a little bit in the great outdoors despite being in urban Tulsa. Get outside and find a favorite fishing place close by in Tulsa, and have a blast! Remember, tight lines; catch and release!