Thursday, March 17, 2011

Refuge Opens Boating and Pond Fishing Season

Text and Photo by Ken Carr

Although fishing is allowed throughout the year in the creeks and parts of Lake Texoma that exist in the Hagerman Wildlife Refuge, the unofficial fishing and boating season starts in mid-March when the crappie begin their annual spawn and boating once again is allowed in some Refuge waters and fishing is allowed in the Refuge's several small ponds.

Once again this year the boating and pond fishing will begin a few weeks early on March 15. Until 2010, the opening date was April 1. As in years past the closing date is Sept. 30.

The two extra weeks may not sound like much to the uninitiated,
but these weeks usually coincide with the spring crappie run which lasts roughly from mid-March to the end of April depending on springtime temperatures. During this time crappie gather in shallower waters and become more aggressive feeders. Much of the spawn occurs in creeks and sloughs and the use of a boat, even a small jon boat or a kayak, allows the anglers to fish thousands of acres of water that otherwise would be unaccessible. Watercraft must be confined to only the waters of Big Mineral Creek and its associated creeks. Water skiing, jet skiing and night time boating are not allowed. The Refuge is closed after sundown.

Most of Hagerman's ponds are bank accessible and are particularly good for younger anglers because of their shallower waters. The ponds are stocked occasionally and can provide a fun afternoon for younger anglers. Refuge officials recommend that adults catching fish in the ponds practice catch and release because the ponds can be easily fished out.
Two of the more popular ponds are located near the Refuge office and others are along the Harris Creek Trail as well as Haller's Haven Trail.

There are three boat ramps located in the Refuge. They are
on Tern Road, near Pad L and between pads A and B. The ramp on Pad L was built last year and has a floating dock. Anglers with kayaks and small flat bottomed boats can launch from the bank at Big Mineral Park, which is also a popular place for bank fishers. Other popular spots for bank fishers include the oilfield pads, Harris Creek across the road from the Refuge office and the low water Bridge north of the Refuge Office.

Those fishing the Refuge waters are required to have either a Texas fishing license or a Lake Texoma Fishing License. Those fishing the Refuge ponds are required to have a Texas fishing license. The only anglers not required to have a fishing license are those under 17 years of age and those born in 1930 or earlier. Anglers may keep up to 37 crappie per day, but they must be at least 10 inches in length.

Kevin Vaughn is a full time law officer at the Refuge and is known for his diligence in enforcing
Refuge regulations, particularly in regards to licenses, fish limits-both size and number--and the Refuge's speed limits.

Photo Caption: Log jams on Big Mineral Creek such as this can be ideal fishing spots for crappie in the Hagerman Wildlife Refuge. The boating season which just opened in the Refuge allows boating anglers to reach "fishy" spots such as this on the lower end of the creek which usually are inaccessible to bank anglers.

Regulations for Refuge use and other information may be found at Friends of Hagerman activities and events are posted at

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