If you've ever driven through the refuge, you may have or not have seen the signs warning visitors about potentially toxic levels of the mercury content of the fish in the Wichita Mountain lakes.

The heavy metal somehow gets into these lakes, bacteria transform the element into an even more toxic version of it, and it slowly works its way up the food chain as fish consume it. At the end of the chain is us, and we're advised to either not eat or limit our meals of contaminated fish.

For the longest time, the state has insisted that mercury levels are so elevated in the refuge lakes due to a short-lived gold rush that happened a hundred years ago... but as more testing is done, there's a pattern of mercury contamination around Fort Sill.

Shiny mercury metal drops and droplets isolated on white background, Hg

The last time the ODEQ released its findings, the lakes that are local to Lawton hadn't yet been tested. As of May 2023, they have.

Lake Lawtonka has officially been put on the mercury advisory list due to elevated levels of the heavy metal within the food chain.

Largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, white bass, and saugeye were all confirmed to be contaminated with mercury above a certain size. Crappie, bluegill, flathead, and channel catfish tested clean in this lake.

Jeff Feverston

In contrast, if you were to travel to Lake Ellsworth just thirteen away, ODEQ testing proved the fish to be clean throughout the entire food chain.

There was a similar result for other newly-tested lakes across Southwest Oklahoma including Lake Fuqua near Duncan.

Side Note:

While it's not relevant to the SWOK mercury contamination in lakes, it is curious that one specific lake in Northern Oklahoma tested so clean.

While Sooner Lake does have a mercury advisory in place for flathead catfish over 25 inches in length, the other species in that body of water tested completely clean.

What's so weird about that? Sooner Lake is a reservoir that is used in the generation of power at OG&E's (Oklahoma Gas & Electric) Sooner Power Plant. The lake quite literally flows into and out of the plant to generate power. It's a popular winter fishing lake since the discharge side of the lake is usually much warmer than all of the other area lakes.

If you were to Google "How does mercury get into fish," you'll read about how power plants are a top contributor to mercury contamination, tho it's worth noting the Sooner Plant uses coke--a hotter-burning and cleaner coal-like byproduct of oil and gas refining--instead of natural coal to create power.

If you'd like to know what you're eating out of your own local Oklahoma lake, click here to read the reports and advisories issued thus far.

Oklahoma's Ten Best Fishing Lakes

If you know, you know. When it comes to fishing, not all lakes are equal. While you can fish and catch fish in just about every body of water in the Sooner State, there are only a handful of lakes Oklahoma anglers get serious about.

Here are the top fishing lakes in Oklahoma.

Check out Oklahoma's premier glampground getaway

If you're in need of a staycation whether it's a romantic weekend getaway or a family mini-vacation check out Oklahoma's premier glampgrounds. You'll find it in Lawton, OK. near the Wichita Mountain Wildlife Refuge and Lake Lawtonka at 11761 N.W. Miller Road. Adventure Born Glampgrounds features some of the VERY BEST comfort camping in the Sooner State. After seeing the pictures you'll definitely want to book a stay. You can check them out on Facebook. Scroll through the gallery below for a virtual tour of this amazing site:

25 more hilarious & offensive personalized plates that were DENIED by the Oklahoma Department of Motor Vehicles

It's another batch of hilarious & offensive personalized plates that the Oklahoma DMV denied. Personalized vehicle plates are very popular and we're seeing more and more of them on the road every day. However, there are some rules and restrictions when it comes to what you can and can't put on your tag. If it's at all considered obscene, vulgar, demeaning, sexual in nature, or includes any mention of drugs, alcohol, or illegal activities it will be DENIED. Check out the photo gallery below. WARNING: some of these could be considered offensive, more like VERY OFFENSIVE so if you're easily offended proceed with caution.

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