The second film shoot for Heliconia’s newest media project, Jackson Kayak’s Road Trip Angler, wrapped up last month. Show host Jameson Redding packed up his fishing kayak, rods, tackle box and gear, and drove from his home base of North Carolina to Oklahoma to experience their legendary fishing opportunities for himself. Below is his trip report.
When planning the filming schedule for this inaugural season of Road Trip Angler began, and Oklahoma was named as one of the film shoot destinations, I must admit I was intrigued. I mean… I knew that it was home to one of Jackson Kayaks largest dealers, Oklahoma Kayak, but I had never thought of it as being a fishing destination. As I do for every film shoot, I began researching and I discovered that not only does the state have a huge paddling community, but it may be one of the best kept secrets when it comes to casting a line in the water. Home to more than two hundred lakes and over one million surface acres of water, Oklahoma has more shoreline than the non-tidal East and Gulf Coast combined! That alone got me pumped to learn more.
Dave Lindo, owner of Oklahoma Kayak, and I began to plan out the trip and it became clear that the state is super diverse when it comes to the landscape and the fishing. To do it justice we would need to do some traveling. I wanted to pack as much as I possibly could into the limited amount of time we had, so we kicked it off by stopping in Broken Bow and then headed from there to the Wichita Mountains.
Broken Bow, located on the southeastern side of the state, is the gateway to Beavers Bend State Park. Home to Broken Bow Lake, as well as to beautiful rivers and tributaries including the Mountain Fork, it is no wonder this is a popular destination. The lake is full of Largemouth, Smallmouth, and Spotted Bass, and the Mountain Fork that feeds it is loaded with the same, but also has several species of trout making it perfect for fly fishing as well.
Any time I travel to a new destination I try to curb my expectations. In some cases, I only have a day to figure out a pattern and get a few bites. This is where local knowledge is key. Joined by Richard Penny, the territory sales manager for Jackson, and his son Jake, who had never fished the area, we were lacking in that department. Dave came to the rescue by connecting us with one of his friends, Joel Pritchard, who had fished the area often. After getting a plan of attack together, it was time to hit the water. Armed with kayaks, tackle, and Joel’s local intel thanks, it didn’t take long to start putting a pattern together and finding some fish!
The water temps were in the mid 60s and this had the fish staging up and pushing into the bull brush to spawn. I opted to try and catch them on top and did just that. It is not often you get to hit the water on a new lake for the first time and get on fish right off the bat, but that is what happened. I never like leaving fish, but with some weather pushing in we made the safe decision to leave them biting and get off the water. That evening Dave joined us, and we hashed out a plan to try and explore the river a bit the next day, but again weather was playing a factor.
Hoping for a window to get on the lower Mountain Fork we did some exploring and found a launch that would allow for single access. This would keep us from being stuck between a put in and take out if storms kicked up. I must admit, that as I look back this small window to get on a river was one of the biggest highlights of the trip for me. I love river fishing and it is where I am most confident as an angler. Add in the fact that this river is home to my favorite freshwater fish, Smallmouth Bass, and it makes for a deadly combination. The Mountain Fork was also one of the most beautiful rivers I have had the pleasure of fishing! Lined with cypress trees and littered with boulders creating shoals throughout, it is truly a unique fishery.
Dave, being more of a kayaker than an angler, was the first to hook up and his contagious excitement set the tone for the morning!
We all landed several spotted bass, and after switching again to the Z-Man Toadz, a topwater frog, I was able to connect with my two best fish of the day. A decent Smallmouth and a toad of a spotted bass! The fish were amazing, but spending time with friends, watching someone that doesn’t get to fish a lot get excited about it, and exploring such a beautiful destination made me regret that we had to move on to a new location. With weather moving in, however, it proved to be the right decision. We loaded up and hit the road, driving four hours to our next stop.
The plan for the following day was to head west of OKC into the Wichita Mountains to fish some of the lakes that call the mountains home. Again, local knowledge on new water is so important, and Dave had arranged for us to meet up with some knowledgeable kayak anglers that hit these lakes on the regular.
I feel this is a good time to share that you will notice I am a bit vague on the exact locations of some of our launch spots. This is because I truly feel that when someone is kind enough to share a location that they have spent time putting the work in to learn and perfect, it is not my place to give out every detail. What I will say is that everywhere we fished is public and if you are willing to do a little work and research you will likely stumble across these areas, or the people that fish them, yourselves. Now that that is out the way, back to the fishing!
After meeting local anglers, Delbert Patton and Mike Archer, we decided to hit Lake Lawtonka in search of protection from the wind. This paid off quickly! Within sight of the ramp, we were hooking up! The water temps had the bass up shallow, and I managed several nice Largemouth on top again with the Goat Toadz. This was starting to become a theme. We all stuck several fish in this area, but I could not resist the urge to explore. This made for an awesome day on the water that proved to be very productive. I have to say even Dave was becoming quite the angler! This is where a newfound father-son rivalry began to spin up.
The next day we planned to head back into the mountains once again and hit a lake that had been a bit too windy to fish the previous day. A much smaller body of water, this lake only allows for smaller craft and electric, or people-powered, boats. Perfect for kayak fishing! Water temps here were much colder and the bite was different from the top water I had become used to on this trip. Father and son duo, Richard and Jake, began to have some luck and a bet was made. Now, I must be honest that I am not a finesse angler and nothing I was trying was working. The water was super clear and a bit colder than the previous day, so the fish had not moved into the shallows as I had gotten used to. I had to make some adjustments. After playing with some color combinations, I found success with a chatter bait and, while the window was small, the bite turned on! It was short but sweet.
After losing my best fish of the day I was a little bitter, but it was time to head back to the launch and see who had won – father or son. Being named judge in the little tournament I looked over the fish and declared that while Jake had bigger fish than his dad, and Richard had caught more. I, however, had out-fished them both. It was only fitting that they both endure the punishment. What’s the punishment, you ask? Well… you’ll just have to tune in to see.
Dave had one more adventure up his sleeves and lead us on a short hike into the mountains and through a field of boulders that proved Oklahoma would live up to everything he had told me about. Such a diverse and surprisingly fishy state.
To quickly touch on what worked for us on this trip it was mostly topwater with the Goat Toadz from Z-Man paired with 30lb Seaguar Smackdown Braid tipped with Seaguar’s 20lb Gold Label fluorocarbon leader. I threw this on a Medium Heavy 7’ 2” fast action Rainshadow Eternity blank. My other go to was a 7’ medium heavy Rainshadow Judge which has a moderate/fast action. The bait I used on this setup was the 1/2 oz Z-Man Jackhammer Chatterbait in various colors on 30lb Seaguar High Vis Smackdown and I tipped it with 20lb Gold label again. We mixed in some various finesse presentations as well, but those were the top producers from me by far! We fished out of a variety of Jackson Kayaks, but I found myself in the JK Knarr which handled all the different scenarios perfectly.
Throughout the years, kayak fishing and spending time on the water with friends, old and new, has always filled my heart, and this trip did just that. If you haven’t yet loaded up your truck with some kayaks and gear and put Oklahoma in the GPS, I strongly encourage you to consider it the next time you are looking for an adventure! I know I will be back.
About Road Trip Angler: Jackson Kayak’s Road Trip Angler is a multifaceted media project designed to help showcase brands and products to a dedicated and engaged audience of avid anglers and outdoors lovers. Leveraging host Jameson Redding and Jackson Kayak’s significant dealer and consumer distribution channels to reach markets across the US, this show hits the road to find the best fishing in America in the coolest regions. Jameson Redding will explore the many fisheries across the US with the businesses and angler influencers who call these regions their home. Each 30-minute TV episode airs nationally across Bally Sports Network. Brand interested in partnering with Road Trip Angler are encouraged to reach out to Heliconia’s Partnership Manager, Malvin Young, at email@example.com.