With a rare weekend with few responsibilities this close to the holidays, I set out to Roman Nose State Park to fish for stocked trout.
Lake Watonga is one of several places the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife stocks rainbow and brown trout during the winter months. Roughly 2,000 trout go in to the lake every couple of weeks from November through March.
At one time Watonga Lake held the state record for rainbow trout, with a “breeder” over 10 pounds caught by a local angler.
Itching to get the kayaks wet and the fly rod out, we loaded up and set off. After the 90 minute drive from Norman we put in at the small boat ramp near the camping sites. The lake is small at 55 acres and is a no wake lake. Other than our two kayaks we saw one idling bass boat and a small two person flat bottom. Air temps were in the low 50’s with bright sunny skies and the water was at 44 degrees. The clarity of the water makes it a little difficult to sneak up on anything so an overcast day with a windy ripple would have been preferred.
While my wife explored around, I made quick use scanning the submerged timber that is scattered all throughout the lake with my sonar to locate cover holding fish and depth. There is ample cover and a very robust bass population as well.
In addition to a 9 foot 5 weight fly rod I also brought an ultralight spin rod spooled with 4 pound test.
Tackle included an assortment of flies. Mostly dry flies, egg patterns, and wooly boogers. On the spin rod I had silver and gold spoons and inline spinners. To cover ground more quickly, I used the spin rod to locate and target fish before switching to the fly rod. This little bass hit a minnow pattern inline spinner.
As the day was winding down I started having luck with the trout. A salmon egg pattern at 3 feet under an indicator worked for the first rainbow of the day.
Minutes later, after observing a lot of top water strikes, I switched over to a parachute adams and immediately hooked into my second and last trout of the day.
With the sun setting and the air getting very crisp, we headed back to the takeout, but not before a celebratory beverage on the shore.
Gratuitous pretty wife picture.
So what works at Lake Watonga for winter trout?
In addition to what I outlined above, most bank anglers go with powerbait. They use 4 or 6 pound line. Slip on an egg sinker with a barrel swivel tied below. From the swivel they tie on 18 to 24 inches of line down to a #10 or #12 treble hook with enough powerbait on it to make it float. Usually two “eggs” are enough. Cast out and wait on the trout to commit before a hook set. Here’s a video ODWC produced that is very helpful for anglers new to the process.
Definitely a lake I’ll be back to soon!