Possible overpopulation of small panfish at local lakes not deterring anglers from enjoying the outdoors

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Last week ushered in spring and the anglers were out in force at both Lake Sahoma and Pretty Water Lake. A common complaint was that only small panfish were biting. One seasoned fisherman suggested that the panfish were overpopulated, resulting in stunted growth.

Ralph Sunley holds up a small crappie he caught on Friday at Sahoma Lake. Sunley and others are saying that an overpopulation of the small panfish might be an issue at the lake.  Betzler photo.

Sapulpa Times spoke with Parks and Recreation DIrector Jody Baker about this comment.

He said it was possible that because of an overabundance of shad due to the lake filling up after dam repairs two years ago. Baker postulated that the bass were feeding on the shad and not the smaller panfish.

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When asked if perhaps a limnologist (freshwater biologist) from the State Wildlife Department could make an assessment, Baker said: “Even if it is overpopulated they are not going to do anything. And the thing is that you can catch 37 crappie in a day.”

Sapulpa Times went out to the lakes Friday, March 26 to observe water conditions and query anglers about how the fish were biting. Nearly everyone who was questioned about their catches said they had caught nothing but small panfish. One fellow who was loading up his beautiful Bass Tracker bass boat, said he had no luck at all that day. Another gentleman who was fishing on the dock at Prettywater said he also only caught small crappie.

It should be noted that it is just the start of the fishing season, the water is still cold, and yesterday was windy, causing choppy waters for boaters.

One interesting observation was that all the people fishing were from adjacent cities, not Sapulpa. The majority of the anglers said they were from Sand Springs. There were two families that had set up tents and were cooking hamburgers, as the children and adults were fishing. The weather is warming up everyday, and as with every spring, thunderstorms are becoming more common. This can actually be a good thing for anglers. Dropping barometric pressure before a front can cause cause fish to bite. Also, often after a bit of weather system passes and the water quality “settles,” game fish are once again on the prowl.

Sahoma boasts three outdoor fishing docks, one indoor dock, a boat ramp, a shelter house with picnic tables and grill, and camping, as well as RV facilities, which will soon be open after upgrades are completed. Pretty Water features a fishing dock and a pedestrian bridge over the lake.

The bait/concession shop is open Wednesdays and Thursdays from 7 a.m to 5 p.m., Friday from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m., Saturday from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m., and Sunday from 6 a.m. to 2 p.m.

A state fishing license, as well as a city fishing permit, is required for Sahoma and Pretty Water lakes. An annual individual permit is $35 plus tax, however, there is a $15 discount for children aged 9-16, adults 65 and older, those with disabilities, or those receiving SSI benefits. An individual daily permit for anglers aged 9 and up is $5 plus tax; children 8 and under fish free. An annual family permit, which includes two adults 17 or older and two children 9-16, is $60 plus tax.

Fishing permits may be purchased at City Hall or at the Sapulpa or Sand Springs Walmart.

Boaters are encouraged to have the following items on board: a life jacket, a throwable floatation device, a sound device, a fire extinguisher (for gasoline-powered boats), a first aid kit, two ropes, and optimally, a VHF radio since cell phone coverage can be spotty on the water.

Catch a big fish? Share your photos with us at news@sapulpatimes.com