I try to make it a point to mention Oklahoma's free fishing weekend every year because, well, fishing is easy, cheap, and fun for the whole family... might as well hop into this hobby the one weekend it's not going to cost you a dime.

In my lifetime, during the course of away from and back to this state four or five times, I've watched the cost of Oklahoma's basic fishing license slowly double in cost as the years have gone on.

When I turned sixteen I opted to snatch a fishing license from the local bait shop even before scheduling my exam for a driver's license. Back then they were filled out by hand on a waxy, waterproof type of paper and you were expected to keep it in legible condition for the calendar year. It cost a whopping $12.50.

The last time the Oklahoma fishing license experienced a price change, it doubled to $25... and while you can/could technically show up at the sporting department at an Academy or your local Walmart to purchase the new digital license, most people just did it from home, probably. I always renewed mine here at the studios since I didn't have and still don't have a PC or printer at home. The separation of work and home is as important to me as the separation of church and state...

Call me cheap if you want, but $25 seems a little steep to try something new that you might not even enjoy. While the money earned from the sale of licensing goes directly into improving wildlife conservation and paying game wardens to harrass outdoorsmen, the state at least understands giving a "free" weekend to experience the outdoors might actually earn more money by enticing more people to pick up the hobby.

If you live in or around Lawton, you are living in fishing heaven. Not only do we have a bunch of trophy-fish lakes surrounding the area, but we also have the most beautiful fishing lakes in the state.

Lawtonka is relatively clean and often pretty clear due to the rocky and sandy bed. It also consistently produces huge large and smallmouth bass.

The various lakes located throughout the refuge are overwhelmingly clear most of the time. They're also relatively small, free to use and offer ease of access. It seems the fishery officials discover lunker bass in those lakes every time they survey. It was only a year or two ago they posted a picture of a 14+pound largemouth found in Jed Johnson Lake.

The lakes around Duncan are also some of the prettiest and best-producing in Oklahoma. While the average fish size may be smaller, the surroundings and frequency of the catch more than makeup for it. Lake Humphrey's, Clear Creek, and Fuqua may all be small but they're gorgeous.

I admit I've never been to Ellesworth. People tell me all the time that the catfish there are second to none, but I can't stand catching catfish. Something about that slime that permeates everything and the smell that's hard to get off... I've also never fished Waurika Lake, but it's famous for good numbers of sand and hybrid bass.

There's another little gem down towards Waurika called Lake Jap Beaver. It's relatively shallow making it hard to fish when the water warms up when it gets super hot, but Spring, Fall, and Winter are prime seasons to find some big ones down there.

Like we've talked about before, if you're not an angler at present but want to experience it during the free fishing weekend, don't buy into thinking you need a lot of gear. While it's fun to buy, you really only need a basic, cheap reel combo pole and either some bait or a good lure.

Worms are the cheapest. Minnows are proven performers. Lures are designed to catch the angler rather than the fish. If you opt for artificial baits, keep it simple. Green, blue, and black baits do best in our waters. It's a contrast thing and darker baits tend to do better.

Spinner and buzz baits are classics but cheap chatter baits are what pros are winning huge contests with these days. They're also easy to fish with. They vibrate really hard as you reel them in... the moment they stop vibrating, you set the hook and catch the fish.

If you want to keep it ultra-simple and hop out there with the kiddos for a weekend of outdoor fun, buy yourself some $10 poles and cheap bait and hit the waters below Medicine Park. It's so easy POTUS could land his own dinner out there.

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