Deep Fork River Paddling
There are no places
that I am aware of to rent a kayak or canoe for paddling the Deep
Fork River. However, the river does have a few
good spots for flatwater paddlers to kayak, as long as you don't
mind getting your feet a bit muddy. The tall muddy banks of the
Deep Fork River provide decent protection when high winds make lake
Paddling and kayak fishing conditions on the Deep
Fork River have recently improved due to the addition of a new
cement boat ramp and gravel parking area right off Highway 266 near
Grayson, Oklahoma! There are even a few nice spots to park a
chair and fish with rods from the shore. If you like chasing
Oklahoma catfish, you will want to drag your kayak down to this spot
as soon as possible. You can even buy bait from two different
locations only minutes away on Highway 266. (Russell's Quick Stop in
our Kayak Oklahoma Blog for our most recent Deep Fork River
The Deep Fork River's banks
are coated in sticky red clay carried down from the Oklahoma City
area and deposited on everything this river touches. It
touches quite a bit, as it often floods in the Spring and Fall.
This seasonal flood is vital for good pecan crops and the local
pursuit of catfish. White catfish run the river when it is flowing
high. If you like
Kayak Fishing, we think that trotlines, limb lines and throw lines are the most effective
ways to pull fish out of the Deep Fork River.
Dianne's Oklahoma Kayak Fishing Tips for
I often paddle the Deep Fork River from the old bridge near
Nuyaka Creek Winery. There is a rapid right near the put-in but
Dianne and I never run it because we know it to be full of rusty old
metal. Luckily, it is very easy to portage around the one
rapid from the put-in on the east side of the bridge pictured on the
right. As sunset approaches, the reflections of gnarled trees,
twisted roots and sinister looking logjams can become absolutely
surreal. You can see more of
my Deep Fork River photography on Flickr.
You can also access the Deep Fork River in a number of places
near Okmulgee, Oklahoma including a new public boat ramp located on
Hwy 266 between Dewar
and Grayson. From there the Deep Fork River twists turns and
meanders its way to Lake Eufaula around the Holiday Cove area.
The new boat ramp on Deep Fork is Dianne's new favorite kayak fishing
spot, so don't be surprised if you see me paddling around taking
pictures of her.
Kayak Fishing is too much like work for me and drags me out of
the shade too much.
Highway 266 Bridge Boat Ramp on the Deep Fork River
Excellent boat Launch and Parking
There is a nice road leading
underneath the new Deep Fork River
bridge on Highway 266 between Dewar and
Grayson, Oklahoma. You can park a good distance off the highway, yet
close to the water. Expect an easy launch from the boat ramp between
the two bridges, You can paddle either upstream or downstream
for quite a distance!
I think a person could paddle from this bridge down to Eufaula lake,
but I have never tried it. This boat ramp is only a short drive away
from the Grave Creek boat ramp access to Lake Eufaula and Gentry
it is curvy, the river channel is both deep and wide here and
not nearly as clogged up with logjams as most of the Deep Fork
Deep Fork is home to some very large catfish, so choose your tackle
accordingly. If you fish Deep Fork you will need to guard your
catch carefully. Both turtles and alligator gar are plentiful, so
fish trapped on a stringer are likely to not make it to the
take-out. Pack a
wire fish basket
insulated Fish Storage Bag on muddy old Deep Fork
or simply practice catch-and-release. Local wisdom says the fishing
is best during high water conditions, but Dianne has sacked up
catfish in low water conditions recently so your mileage may vary.
The Deep Fork River is an Oklahoma tributary of the North
Canadian River. It flows from Oklahoma City and meets the
Canadian River at
Lake Eufaula about 200 miles away. Expect to see
many snakes, beavers, deer, herons, gar and owls when kayaking on
the Deep Fork River. After a good rain the local water will turn the
river from deep red in color to a beige tone similar to the North
Canadian River, but once the water arrives from the OKC area... it will
change back to its unique muddy red look.
Nuyaka Bridge River Access to Deep Fork
There is an informal river access on the Deep Fork River
near Nuyaka Creek Winery. An old low water bridge is at
water level just North of this old metal bridge. Most
of the old low water bridge is made of stone, creating an
easy portage around the one rapid at this spot. You can
easily paddle both above and below the rapid even in fairly
low water conditions.
The rapid has quite a
bit of rusty metal in it, so I don't recommend running it
unless you are looking for a case of lockjaw.
This bit of
the Deep Fork River offers excellent fishing for flathead
catfish and large, toothy Gar.
Catfish hooks, sinkers, cold beer &
sandwiches are available just a couple miles down the road
at the Nuyaka Mall (918)-756-8485.
The Elusive Thousand Acre Lake
Acre Lake is a small playa lake that appears during flood
Deep Fork Wildlife Refuge. When it is up, it makes for
some fun fishing and paddling. I have a thing for bodies of
water that play 'hard to get' and this one is right in my
backyard. To get there look for The
White Oak Area on the Deep Fork Wildlife Refuge (DFWR) signs along
Sharp road just West of Okmulgee. We paddled Thousand Acre
Lake on Thursday afternoon on April 28, 2011.
Most of the year, Thousand Acre Lake is a native grass plain
with some small mud-holes in it. However, when the
Deep Fork River floods it turns into an oasis for wading
birds and catfish than long for new horizons. Watch out for
the submerged barbed wire fences when paddling the flood
waters in this bit of DFWR and Park at White Oak Area.
Also, expect spiders and snakes to be relocating, bug
repellent and sunscreen are advisable. We were
surprised to see a number of large fish on our last kayaking
trip to Thousand Acre Lake.
Thousand Acre Lake can be quite scenic paddling, on the rare
occasions, when it is full of water. In fact, the
new McDonald's Restaurant in Okmulgee, Oklahoma displays a
photo from one of my kayaking trips on Thousand Acre Lake on
the Deep Fork Wildlife Refuge.
see more of my pictures of Thousand Acre Lake, just visit
my Thousand Acre Lake Photo Set on Flickr.
Finding Thousand Acre Lake
From Highway 75, Take 20th Street, in Okmulgee, West until you reach
the first STOP sign at the Okmulgee Coke Plant. Continue to folow
that road west, it is now called Sharp Road. Thousand acre lake is a
mile or so down Sharp Road.
Look for a parking area on the left with signs identifying it as the
Deep Fork Wildlife Refuge - White Oak area. Folks are likely to be
sitting there fishing. If you come to the Deep Fork River bridge,
you went too far.
Got some trip advice...email
us or drop a comment in on our
Oklahoma Kayaking blog!
Rivers have what
man most respects and longs for in his own life and thought--a
capacity for renewal and replenishment, continual energy,
creativity, cleansing. -- John M. Kauffmann
River Float Trips
Near Quapaw, Oklahoma
Deep Fork Bayou
Recently, I enjoyed about an hour of
paddling around on Deep Fork Bayou. You can access this
portion of the Deep Fork Wildlife Refuge via a small tank
farm road right off Highway 75 South just south of Okmulgee,
Paddling this tiny body of water is like paddling in a pond,
but with more shade than most ponds offer. I saw countless
turtles, some cranes and a few fish. The water is muddy, but
not as red as the Deep Fork River. From Google Earth, Deep
Fork Bayou looks completely circular, but you cannot
paddle all the way around it unless it is flooded.
If there were a better spot to launch, it would make a
decent place to do some exercise paddling that is
close to town for Okmulgee folks. I just go ahead and get my
Okmulgee Creek Kayaking
Okmulgee Creek is a narrow creek that runs South through
the town of Okmulgee Oklahoma and eventually dumps into the
Deep Fork River on its way to Lake Eufaula.
Dianne and I paddled Okmulgee Creek one year.
Normally, the water level is too low to cover much
distance, but when the Deep Fork River floods it often backs
up the small creeks in the area that feed the river.
One year, the flooding was so great that we paddled Okmulgee
Creek by launching our kayaks in the Okmulgee YMCA parking
lot just off 20th Street. What was normally a soccer field
and walking trail, turned into a swollen Okmulgee Creek
paddling park! Of course, flood water like this can be
dangerously nasty. To keep me safe, my wife suggests I
paddle with my mouth closed.