Cleaning up: New caretaker helping make Pretty Water Lake more inviting
BY KELLY BOSTIAN Outdoors
Sunday, November 04, 2012
11/04/12 at 6:58 AM
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Thursday was the first of the month, but it was a bit early for the trout fishery at Sapulpa's Pretty Water Lake. I went there that afternoon, fooled by my own misunderstanding of the rules.
State trout seasons opened Thursday, but Pretty Water is a city lake managed by the Sapulpa Parks and Recreation Department. It was stocked Wednesday but didn't open to fishing until the city held its 16th annual trout derby Saturday morning.
No matter, it was high time I got to know Pretty Water and Sahoma lakes, a pair of city-managed stocked lakes just 15 miles from downtown Tulsa that offer hunting (14 duck blinds are handed out by drawing), camping and fishing for bluegill, crappie, hybrid striped bass, largemouth bass, catfish and - in the winter months - rainbow trout.
Pretty Water is a 25-acre spring-fed lake adjacent to the much larger Sahoma, a 340-acre impoundment of Rock Creek. They're located west of Oklahoma 97 just 2 1/2 miles northwest of downtown Sapulpa.
At the center of the recreation area is the Lake Sahoma Bait and Concession Store, the park headquarters where you can pick up your fishing permits, rent a boat, pay for a camping spot or snag some baits, candy bars, sodas, minnows, rods, reels or line.
The store also is the workplace for Tom Chandler, the relatively new resident lake caretaker who in the past year has gained a reputation for making the area a nicer place to play. For one thing, the bait shop - "Tom's B.S." for short - now is open 5 a.m. to 6 p.m. six days a week (closed Wednesdays).
"It's not a job," said the retired Sapulpa truck driver. "I like being out here at the lake. I used to be out here fishing all the time."
He now puts that longtime fishing knowledge to use, helping newcomers understand the lakes. He points out fishing spots if they don't know where to go and suggests baits to use and how to use them.
"He's just a very friendly guy, he's cordial and he tries to keep the place clean," said Anita Kosir, who with husband John hauled a bucket of 20 smallish to mid-sized crappies out of Sahoma on Thursday.
Chandler and his wife, Debbie, are both caretakers and residents, living in their RV in the park campground. Their constant presence and Tom's attention to checking licenses and limits is starting to pay off. The word is out that he is around and has a line to the local police and game wardens.
Chandler is authorized to write tickets for fish and game violations. The affable angler has mostly handed out warnings in the past, but Chandler said this year he has to start writing some tickets. "You can only do so much," he said, shrugging his shoulders.
A lot of people will fish the lake after the initial stocking of more than 1,000 fish, but the fish build with subsequent stockings and fewer anglers braving the elements.
"I've pretty well got 'em figured out," Walters said. "It took me 14 years, but I got 'em figured out."
If it takes that long to learn the lakes, I'm glad I met Chandler and Walters to gain from their experience my first time there.
Original Print Headline: Cleaning up
Pretty Water Fishin' Tips
Jack Walters' trout-catching advice: Fishing is best from a small boat or kayak (no motors allowed on Pretty Water). The fish tend to move toward the creek. He uses light fly-fishing gear (3/4 weight) with 1/125th-ounce marabou jigs placed 2 to 3 feet under a strike indicator. Successful colors have been chartreuse, and orange with a little bit of flash. He sometimes tries other things, but the micro jigs work best.
Tom Chandler's trout-fishing recommendations: Fishing from a kayak or small boat is best because the fish tend to break into schools and cruise the lake. A boat allows you to follow the fish.
Casting or trolling with a 1-inch Super Duper Spoon or 1/8-ounce Mepps rooster tail spinner can be effective.
Berkeley Power Bait is a good option fished below a bobber with a split-shot sinker for young anglers or off the bottom with a swivel and slip sinker for those with a little more skill. Form the dough-like bait into a teardrop shape, smash it onto a salmon egg hook and mold it into a teardrop shape to cover the hook.
Alex Fish of Bixby (left) holds a 3 1/2-pound trout after netting it for fishing partner Jim Koscielniak of Tulsa on Saturday morning at Pretty Water Lake near Sapulpa. KELLY BOSTIAN / Tulsa World