It’s Never Too Cold to Fish!

Arcadia Lake Offers Year-Round Fishing
“Brrr… it’s too cold to go fishing in December.” Not for those who fish at Arcadia Lake.

A heated dock at Spring Creek Park makes fishing a year-round activity for all ages. The blue metal structure provides a sheltered 14-by-40-foot open fishing area inside with an 8-foot walk surrounding it. Red cedar trees are tied off underneath for fish habitat. Outside, there’s another 8-foot walk around all four sides of the building and a wide ramp from the parking area. Anglers are allowed two fishing poles at the heated dock, which is lighted inside and out. The structure is power-washed weekly to keep it clean. Everything is handicapped-accessible.

State fishing licenses are required for anyone over 16 years of age and can be obtained from the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife. Daily permits for entry into all four parks at Arcadia Lake are $6 per car ($7 on weekends) with annual permits available; Edmond residents get a discount, as do the handicapped.

Six men fished for crappie inside the blue building late one Friday afternoon in November, and seven fished from the outside walkway, still protected by the roof’s overhang. A man named Willie said he’d caught two crappie since he got there after working all day, but the other anglers were tight-lipped about their day’s catch. They all agreed that their spot was “the best-kept secret in Oklahoma” and wondered how long it would be before others found out how good the fishing was at Arcadia Lake.

Southeast of the heated dock at Spring Creek is Arrowhead Point, where 20- to 30-pound blue catfish lounge in 25-foot water, waiting to be caught. The parking area at Arrowhead Point is lighted at night; lake permits are good for 24 hours. Workers are installing a riprap concrete barrier along the point to stop erosion of the lake’s banks. According to Jim Roberts, volunteer member of Edmond’s Fish and Game Commission, fish are attracted to habitat in the lake where buoys mark submerged trees that provide tie-ups for boat fishermen.

Roberts, a retired Oklahoma City firefighter, said he taught his eight children and 22 grandchildren how to hunt and fish. Arcadia Lake “is really a great place for family outings,” he said. “You can fish, there’s archery season for deer to control the deer population, camping, a full-service campground for RVs, and Eagle Watch is coming up.”

“Blue catfish is better eating than channel cat, but both can be caught here. Most people fish for 10- to 13-inch crappie. Someone caught a 10-pound black bass and a 30-pound blue cat from the heated dock area last year. The state limits are a couple of big bass per day and 37 crappie, but some fishermen just catch and release.”

One Saturday afternoon in November found Justin at Arcadia Lake for the first time. The Edmond 14-year-old usually fishes in private ponds but decided to try the lake with his uncle who had come from Ada to visit. Their reliable H&H spinner failed to overcome a day when the catfish chose not to bite along the bank at Arrowhead Point. The fishermen missed out on the dinner they had planned: fresh catfish dipped in pancake batter and deep-fried.

The dockhouse was busy that same Saturday with more than a dozen men and women fishing inside and several more outside, all age groups represented. Two of the six windows were open for a comfortable breeze for the group sitting on folding chairs and camp stools they brought. Some stood and others sat on the four permanent park benches provided inside the large building.

A family from southwest Oklahoma City fished at Arcadia Lake the first time after spending the three previous nights at Lake Hefner. Tawnya and Daniel said they were glad they came and children Nick and Sherry agreed. Tawnya grew up fishing with her dad, who was on his way to join them. They had fished since 7 a.m., bringing their drinks, fishing gear and folding chairs, then left the lake long enough to pick up fast food for lunch and had returned for an afternoon of more fishing. Nick, 13, said fishing was “lots of fun” and he’d started when he was 5. Seven-year-old Sherry’s long brown curls bounced and her dark eyes sparkled when she said, “We caught lots of crappie. It’s exciting to get up and come. And, people keep giving us all their fish!” She baited her own hook with a minnow but said she needed help with worms.

About 10 minutes later, one of the men said, “Girl. Fish.” Everyone looked at Sherry’s fishing rod. It lay still, propped on a bench, the float swaying on the water’s gentle waves. Again the man said, “Girl. Fish.” Sherry sprinted over to the man who held up a small crappie he had caught. The young girl placed her fingers inside the fish’s open mouth and carried it to an ice chest, then tossed it inside to join her other finned treasures.

Jim Roberts came in with empty buckets in anticipation of catching plenty of crappie to use as bait for catfish; he was going to meet his friend to fish from a boat. While in the dockhouse, he demonstrated how people use niblets on lures to increase their chances of reeling in more crappie. The tiny, yellow niblets had the consistency of a marshmallow.
Thomas loaded more than a dozen crappie and a big colorful carp into the back of his new town car. The Midwest City resident fishes Arcadia Lake often; that Saturday was his fifth day in a row. He said he fishes the whole lake, then left to check his lines where he expected to find catfish. The hobby keeps the retiree busy after he finishes yard work. He said he has fished since he was a kid in Mississippi so he knows how to catch and cook all kinds of fish.

Bill said he comes to the lake on weekends now, mostly for crappie. He said he “caught a few today, caught 22 last weekend, caught 84 on one day. It varies, sometimes 35.” He said he uses minnows and jigs. He and his fiancé fish together and sometimes see as many as 25 cars parked near the dock.

“There’s some very big crappie here,” he said. “The state record is 5 pounds, 20 ounces; a 4-pound, 12-ounce one was caught here this year.”

Rods and reels don’t have to be packed away in winter. At Arcadia Lake, it’s never too cold to fish.

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