When the ocean that covered the plains receded back into the gulf, it left behind at least one lake here in Oklahoma. It's called Great Salt Plains Lake. It's a lot of fun to swim in and it's full of fish just waiting to be caught.

Welcome to Jet, Oklahoma... home of Oklahoma's only saltwater lake.


Just like most of the lakes in the Sooner State, the river that flowed through the Great Salt Plains area--Salt Fork Arkansas River--was dammed in order to control the rampant flooding that happened frequently on the flat plains. What they didn't expect was the lake to remain salty this far into the future.

The expanse where the reservoir was planned was always a salty plain. Explorers "discovered" it when they were first brought there by members of the Osage Tribe way back in 1811. When the Flood Control Act of 1936 was enacted, engineers and geologists figured the salt would dissipate with time as freshwater flowed.

Spoiler... It didn't dissipate.

It was later discovered that there is a saline groundwater supply that flows just a foot or two below the entire surface of the state park. It replenishes the salt year in and year out.

Even though it's salty, it's not super salty... Some sources say it's a quarter as salty as the ocean, others say it's roughly half--it probably depends on how much freshwater is flowing into the reservoir and how dry the hot summers are, evaporation and all that.

While you might think it'd be mostly barren, wildlife seems to thrive in and around Great Salt Plains State Park. The water is home to lots of good-eating fish, and the birds that congregate there feed on them year-round.

What kind of fish?

You can catch a lot of the same fish here that you search for in any Oklahoma lake. Catfish, of course... but also largemouth bass, carp, crappie, and sunfish... but the real draw for anglers is the walleye-sauger-hybrid saugeye that gets all of the attention.

Arguably the tastiest fish in our Oklahoma waters. Even better than crappie.

Master angler fishing in all seasons
Amy J Kamps

The lake opens for anglers on April 1st and you're more than welcome to cast lines until October 15th. You'll also want to check the lake status online before you make the trip to Jet... the lake is moderately shallow most of the time, so it's greatly affected by periods of dry weather and drought.

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