While 2020 has been a rather dim year for most, 2021 is already looking up for outdoor people. The Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation has proposed a massive amount of rule changes going forward that will make enjoying the outdoors a little easier. You can read through all of the jargon via their official pdf release here, but here's what I'm most looking forward to if these come to pass.

While paddlefishing isn't very popular down in SWOK, mainly because we don't have big river reservoirs, they are a fun challenge species that introduces most anglers to snagging. Because they are filter feeders, they don't eat baits, so you have to toss a weighted hook across currents in hopes of snagging one. As they grow to massive sizes, it's a lot of fun and they taste pretty spectacular too. For decades, there's been a strict day-of-week designation on them, where you could only "keep" on certain days, but these new rules will make paddlefish keeping seven days a week.

They're also making changes to the identification requirements of things like trot lines, traps, stringers, regulated species, etc... Instead of having to maintain something with your personal details - ie your name and address - on your gear, you'll now be given an identification number. There will be a revision to the rules on how fish carcasses will be allowed to be discarded too. While the wording is far too broad at the moment, I assume there will be something to do with either tossing your trimmed fish back in the water for the other critters to feast on or outright ban tossing carcasses into trash cans.

Of all of the proposed new rules for 2021, I'm most excited about them finally allowing boats into Doc Hollis Lake way out West of Lawton. It's a pristine clear water reservoir full of fish, but hiking your way around fishing the bank is for the birds. 2021 fishing in SWOK is going to be awesome.

Hunting changes are also being considered, but that's for another time when I've been able to read through it.

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