Monday, April 20, 2015

Oklahoma's Destination Outdoors: Sandy Sanders WMA

Micropterus salmoides

 Hunters and anglers have an opportunity to enjoy their favorite pastime in an area unlike any other. Extending north from the Elm Fork of the Red River, Sandy Sanders Wildlife Management Area (WMA) covers nearly 30,000 acres of rolling and rugged terrain in southwestern Oklahoma.

     Sandy Sanders WMA features a 35-acre reservoir, Doc Hollis Lake that was opened to the public earlier this year. Typical sport fish including bass, catfish and sunfish are present. Anglers should be aware that largemouth bass are catch-and-release only, and boats are prohibited.

     Doc Hollis Lake is particularly vulnerable to golden algae due to its salty water and proximity to Lake Altus-Lugert.  By restricting boat use, ODWC is lowering the chance of a fish kill like the one that occurred two years ago at Lake Altus-Lugert caused by golden algae. Golden algae is spread through water trapped in boat livewells, boat hulls, boat motors and trailers. Unlike blue-green algae, golden algae is not known to be harmful to humans, livestock or pets, but can cause complete fish kills in vulnerable lakes and ponds, like Doc Hollis Lake.

     Along with fishing, Sandy Sanders WMA offers unexpected turkey hunting opportunities, and spring is perhaps the best chance to bag a tom on the WMA. Rio Grande turkeys are typically found in brushy areas near rivers or in mesquite and scrub oak forests. While Sandy Sanders doesn't offer large roosting sites, turkeys prefer its habitat for mating activities. In the spring, large flocks separate into smaller groups and individuals. These groups migrate from neighboring areas into the open habitat of the southern and southeastern portions of the WMA. The regular spring turkey season is April 6-May 6. There is a one-tom limit, and any harvested turkey is required to be checked online at wildlifedepartment.com.

    Deer hunting is limited to archery equipment only. Hunters can apply for a muzzleloader controlled hunt through the Department's controlled hunts program. The deadline to apply is May 15, 2015. Other open seasons and dates can be found in the "Oklahoma Hunting" guide.