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People fish at McGee Creek State Park in southeastern Oklahoma Lori Duckworth/Oklahoma Tourism

When it comes to fishing, I wrote down a quote I saw years ago that read, “The charm of fishing lies partly in the fact that it is pursuit after the unknown and unseen and the ardently expected.”

In so many ways, I feel that quote exemplifies the attraction of fishing. I also read that fishing is one of America’s favorite pastimes and that more people in the United States fish than play golf and tennis combined.

And with the launch of the new Oklahoma Fishing Trail by Oklahoma’s Lt. Gov. Matt Pinnell, the number of people fishing will go up even more.

While for so many of us, fishing is a wonderful, relaxing and fun pastime, it is also a way to increase revenue for Oklahoma.

“Fishing is big business, and the Oklahoma Fishing Trail initiative will promote our state’s unique fishing opportunities — arguably the most diverse fishing in the country — increase tourism and generate additional tax revenue for the state. Most people don’t realize the kind of revenue we’re talking about,” said Pinnell, who also serves as the state’s Secretary of Tourism and Branding. “On average, anglers in Oklahoma already spend $1.8 billion on fishing equipment annually and support more than 15,000 jobs in the state. And we’re only going to grow from there.”

Thirty-eight lakes are highlighted around the state as part of the Oklahoma Fishing Trail, plus there is a list of 20 central Oklahoma fishing opportunities that are part of the Oklahoma Wildlife Department’s “Close to Home” fishing program.

The Oklahoma Fishing Trail is a collaborative initiative of the Oklahoma Tourism and Recreation Department and the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation.

Now, the trail itself is divided up into six loops, one for each region of the state. And then within each loop is an all-around lake that’s known for several different species, plus several lakes with a particular standout species.

For example, in the Northeastern Loop, Grand Lake O’ The Cherokees is a great spot for catching largemouth bass, crappie, catfish and paddlefish, while Lake Eufaula and Lake Tenkiller were chosen for their standout crappie fishing.

It’s easy and convenient to gather all the information you need, and all you have to do is go to the official Oklahoma Fishing Trail website at fishinok.com. It features a map of all the trail stops, along with detailed information on the amenities available at each stop.

Also, a free brochure listing all the fishing trail loops is available. It can be ordered online at travelok.com/brochures and will be shipped free. It will also be available at Oklahoma Tourism Information Centers, Oklahoma State Parks and at many locations around the Fishing Trail stops. You can also call 1-800-652-6552 to order the brochure.

Anglers can earn the Oklahoma Fishing Trail Grand Slam by catching a variety of species and submitting photos of them through fishinok.com. Those who complete the Grand Slam will get an exclusive decal that they can display on their cooler, tackle box, etc.

Oklahoma’s third-largest industry is tourism. And when one thinks about the fact that Oklahoma’s waters hold an incredibly diverse number of species, including angler favorites like trophy bass, stripers, crappie and catfish and even more unique species like the paddlefish, fishing tourism is about to become an even bigger part of the overall tourism picture.

And let’s be honest, fishing is just fun and is a wonderful way to create memories for families.

“I grew up fishing with my grandpa at Sequoyah State Park, and some of my favorite memories in high school were fishing with my buddies. We own a lake house on Grand Lake now, so I’m obsessed with crappie and bass,” Pinnell said. “Fishing has always been something I’ve really enjoyed, and it’s something that Oklahoma offers better than any place in the country.”

Check out the new Oklahoma Fishing Trail and capture the true charm of fishing in the Sooner State!

Dino Lalli is the producer, co-host and one of the reporters for the travel program DISCOVER OKLAHOMA.