When it comes to casting a line in southern Oklahoma, McCurtain County offers some of the state’s clearest waters and a variety of species ready for catching from trophy trout to large- and smallmouth bass. Make the town of Broken Bow your basecamp, get your Oklahoma fishing license, then set off by boat or in waders to explore this southern Oklahoma gem.
Set in the Ouachita Mountains, anglers can fly fish for trophy trout in the Mountain Fork River, cast from the shore along Broken Bow Lake’s blue waters, or escape to the wilderness on the state’s only free-flowing wilderness waterway, the Glover River. Whichever you choose, there’s plenty of fish to reel in at every one of these Oklahoma rivers and lakes.
The area is home to many types of fish: largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, catfish, walleye, crappie, perch, brown trout, and rainbow trout. McCurtain County has a unique claim to fame when it comes to rainbow trout: it’s the farthest place south that produces this fish naturally.
Looking to net a uniquely Oklahoman achievement? Earn the coveted Oklahoma Grand Slam at Broken Bow Lake—home of legendary bass fishing—by hooking a smallmouth, largemouth, and spotted bass in one day. But that’s just one of the spots for fishing in the region. Here are some of our favorites.
Considered the best smallmouth bass fishing stream in Oklahoma, the wild, untamed Glover River is Oklahoma’s only undammed waterway. It offers excellent fly fishing, but no commercialization, so bring a few buddies along for safety. Water levels can be unpredictable, rising and falling dramatically with rain. Canoers and kayakers can fish the free-flowing waters in spring and fall, but during lower water seasons it’s best to wade right in.
Note that a Land Access Fee permit is required to access the area and fish at Glover River, as it’s part of the Three Rivers Wildlife Management Area. The annual permit is $40 for Oklahoma residents between ages 18–64 and $85 for nonresidents.
Fish Found: It’s best known for its genetically pure 1-3lb. smallmouth bass. Largemouth and spotted bass are found in the river’s deep pools.
When to Go: Year-round, but use caution in spring and fall rainy seasons to avoid being caught in high water.
Upper Mountain Fork River
Smallmouth bass fishing is first-rate on this beautiful river above Broken Bow Lake. There are no outfitters on the upper section, so you’ll need to bring your own kayak or canoe to paddle here, but you can also use waders.
Fish Found: Spotted and largemouth bass. White bass and walleye only in the spring.
When to Go: March or April if looking to catch a wide variety of species.
Lower Mountain Fork River
If world-class trout fishing is your endgame, head below the Broken Bow Dam on the Lower Mountain Fork River. The river and its tributaries boast 12 miles of fishing and varying conditions, including swampy Cyprus section, small streams, and fast-moving water with views of passing kayakers. You’ll find the biggest trout between the state park dam and the Reregulation Dam or from the Reregulation Dam to the U.S. 70 Bridge.
Fish Found: Rainbow and brown trout
When to Go: November to March is when you’re most likely to reel in a big trophy trout, but trout are stocked year-round. Visit near a stocking day to increase your odds.
Broken Bow Lake
Known for crystal clear blue waters thanks to its rocky (not sandy) bottom, this lake’s 180 miles of shoreline are popular with anglers looking to cast a line. If you have boat access, paddle out to one of the lake’s many islands for a different perspective and fewer crowds.
Fish Found: Largemouth, smallmouth, and spotted bass, catfish, walleye, crappie, and perch. Catch all three types of bass in one day and you’ll have achieved the Oklahoma Grand Slam.
When to Go: May–March is prime season, but some species of fish can be caught here year-round.
Have your eyes on the prize of the Oklahoma Grand Slam, or want to be sure you catch the coveted trophy trout? Go with a local guide whose expert knowledge on the best places to cast and catch will make for an excellent outing. Here are a few options to help you choose a guiding service:
Beavers Bend Fly Shop: Located on the banks of the Lower Mountain Fork River, this full-service fly shop has the gear you need, and it guides groups on the river for wade casting—with instruction if needed. Catch and release only.
Fly Fish Beavers Bend: Oklahoma-licensed guide Jenny Mayrell-Woodruff spends 200 days on the Lower Mountain Fork River a year. She guides and teaches clients in a positive way that ensures a great day on the water.
Rudy’s Guide Service: Rudy Rudisill has been fishing on Broken Bow Lake since just after it opened to the public—50 years ago. He’s an expert in all species of bass, but also catches walleye and crappie when in season. Rods and tackle provided free of charge.
Fish Tales Winery & Vineyard: This unique shop in Broken Bow invites you to enjoy a glass of wine made from local Oklahoma grapes then go out on a fully guided catch-and-release fishing trip.
Bob’s Guide Service: Bob Daniel specializes in trips for families, and even those with pets, and will take you and your group on half- or full-day trips to catch trout, walleye, bass, and catfish on southeastern Oklahoma’s lakes.