The Norman Transcript

March 16, 2014

We’re all hooked on fishing in Oklahoma

The Norman Transcript

NORMAN — Our mailman Preston Tolson always rang the doorbell if he brought a package up the blacktop driveway to our rural Norman home. His policy was nothing like those hurried UPS and FED-EX drivers who ring and run. Preston waited to make sure you got the package and waited until you answered the door (I think he liked to see the excitement on kids’ faces when a package arrived).

One summer afternoon, he brought two packages shaped like there could be curtain rods inside. Little did we know mom had clipped coupons from a month’s worth of Ralston cereal boxes and got real fishing poles for her boys.

Not a cane pole with string and a bobber. Real cork-handle rods and plastic reels with blue, monafilament line, hooks and sinkers and pictures of the trophy fish we would surely catch. It’s been about 50 years, but I still don’t remember there being a Rucker’s Pond sunfish or Hospital Lake crappie on that list.


Like me, Aaron Milligan grew up fishing Oklahoma lakes and rivers. He was raised in Tishomingo near the Pennington Creek and the Blue River. He moved to Norman to attend the University of Oklahoma and works as a storm water pollution specialist for the City of Norman. He has always been interested in finding many ways to pursue his outdoor hobbies.

“I want to catch the fish I have never caught, and hunt the thing I have never hunted,” he said. To that end, he came up with a personal fishing challenge: Catch a different species of fish each month of the year in Oklahoma.

“I caught a crappie in January, a Rainbow Trout in February, Walleye in March,” he said. “It was a lot of fun and spurred me to get out to see and fish parts of the state that I had not been to.”

His challenge originally was to catch a fish every month. Then he raised the bar to a different fish every month for a year.

He actually caught more than 12 fish and had to substitute upwards on the fish food chain. “A nice Smallmouth has to trump a Carp and only one could be the Fish of the Month.” he writes.

Here’s his list from 2013: January, Large Mouth Bass; February, Rainbow Trout; March, Walleye; April, White Bass; May, Channel Catfish; June, Spotted Bass; July, Smallmouth Bass; August, Sunfish; September, Striped Bass; October, Brown Trout; November, Blue Catfish and December, White Crappie.


Oklahoma has become a fishing-frenzy state. Outdoor Oklahoma magazine reports in just two years, Oklahomans have landed multiple state records in Largemouth Bass, a state record Smallmouth Bass and a state record trout.

Oklahomans love fishing. We think nothing of traveling hundreds of miles to find a good fishing hole. We study techniques and watch the professional fishing shows. Hundreds of spectators came to the weigh-in at the Bassmaster Classic held in Tulsa this past year.

There are several theories on fishing’s popularity. Mine is simple: It looks like a healthy pastime that might easily burn some calories. Milligan has another angle on the resurgence of outdoor sports.

“Maybe it’s cable television,” Milligan said. “You can find a fishing show on just about any time of day.”

Andy Rieger


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