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Deep Fork River Paddling

Dianne enjoys Kayak Fishing for Catfish using limblinesThere 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 unpleasant.

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 Hitchita, OK.) Check our Kayak Oklahoma Blog for our most recent Deep Fork River fishing adventures.

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.

Kayak fishing for Catfish and Gar on Oklahoma's Deep Fork RiverDianne's Oklahoma Kayak Fishing Tips for Catfish:


2011 Kayak Fishing - Catching Flathead Catfish on the Deep Fork River.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

Highway 266 Bridges near Grayson, OKThere 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 Creek campground.

Although 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 River. 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 or an 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 North 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.

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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.

Deep Fork River Bridge at NuyakaThis 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

The White oak Area at the Deep Fork River Wildlife Refuge is home to Thousand Acre Lake when the river floods.Thousand Acre Lake is a small playa lake that appears during flood conditions on 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.

Kayaking at Thousand Acre Lake in Okmulgee CountyTo 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.

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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

Spring 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, Oklahoma.

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 an
d 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 feet muddy.





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.




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