Ask John Weast
what he thinks is so
great about Oologah Lake.
He’ll tell you.
He hunts there.
He fishes there.
He camps there.
He pretty much lives there.
And he catches a lot of fish there.
“We’re out there nearly every weekend,” Weast said, “hunting or fishing or something.
“During the summer, well, we just pretty much live there.”
The “we,” Weast is talking about, is his family.
It’s quite fitting to know Weast’s father-in-law, Travis Andrews, helped build the lake in the 1960s. The flood control project began in the 1950s and wasn’t completed until 1974.
Eventually the lake took most of what was the family farm around Blue Creek.
But, that’s OK. Weast, his wife Dayna, their daughter Johnna, son Johnny and now his fiancé Felicia Drake, have staked a claim to the state-owned waters.
“We’ve been going out there since 1981,” Weast said.
He admits actual ownership of a place on the exclusive Grand Lake O’ the Cherokees.
“But, I’d rather be at Oologah,” Weast said with a good humor laugh. “The people are a lot friendlier.”
Weast has been practically living on the lake for so long he’s even personally acquainted with most of the Corps of Engineers workers.
He has helped place brush for fish habitats; even helped out with the annual deer hunt for disabled folks.
“It’s second to none,” Weast said, speaking of the special hunt.
Weast’s 32-foot Bass Buggy pontoon boat is a familiar sight around the waters. Folks recognize the red, white and blue American flag that’s always flying — his maritime signature.
“People know it, and they say, ‘Here he comes. He must be going somewhere to catch something’,” Weast laughed.
“I’ve taken 40-pound catfish out of there,” Weast said. “That’s nothing. There’s been a lot of 50-pounders and 60-pounders caught out of the lake.”
Weast said he recently learned the Blue Cat grows about one pound per year.
“We’ve caught a lot of 20-pounders. That means their older than either of my kids.”
When Johnna was 7, she caught a nine-pound catfish.
“You know,” he said with a knowing tone, “the catfish will start biting good around Memorial weekend — on the rocks, use shrimp.”
He doesn’t mind sharing some fishing secrets and a few places he knows are productive.
“No one’s going to catch them all,” he grins.
For example, one especially productive day, Weast said his daughter had to sit on the live well just to keep all the fish they had caught from jumping out.
“And, we weren’t over the limit,” Weast said. “That’s a true story.”
Anyway, the catfish should be running for about the next three weeks.
And, the crappie fishing is also pretty good right now.
Weast believes Oologah Lake is just now coming into its own as a fishing paradise.
“I predict within the next two years the state record Walleye will be caught right out here.”
Just recently, he and Johnna, caught a 25-inch Walleye, about half the size of the state record.
The lake already has a reputation as a record setter. James Skipper who pulled a catfish from Oologah Lake in May 1998 weighing a record 71 pounds.
But, catching things isn’t everything to Weast.
“Some people go out to catch fish. If I catch fish, fine. It doesn’t matter. I’m not at work.”
This attitude gives him the leverage experience the entire lake.
“You can see just about anything out here — foxes, coyotes, bobcats, turkey, deer, even rattlesnakes,” Weast said.
“If it’s wild, it’s out there. I’ve even seen deer swimming across the lake.”
His family also has a favorite, special swimming spot in an undisclosed location of the lake where the waters are about three feet deep and the bottom is sandy.
“Not many people know about it, but it’s there,” Weast said.
It’s these experiences that keep Weast and his family coming back.
And, it’s not expensive, nor does it take a lot of effort, according to Weast.
“We have a travel trailer, a jet ski and a boat. That’s just about all you need.”
There’s just something about “getting out with the family, away from the phones.”
“We do our own thing. We don’t watch TV. We don’t care too much for what’s going on in the world. We do read the newspaper, and I go to work,” Weast said.
But, above all, Weast feels it’s one of the best things he’s ever done for his family.
“It’s kept us closer together and taught the kids values. If there ever gets hard times, they’ll be able to kill, grow or catch something.”
Weast believes everyone should try lake life on some level. Maybe his approach is a bit extreme for the average person, but he still advises, “Go out and set back and see the scenery. You are always going to see something.”
If you’re swimming, “wear a life jacket.”
Don’t forget to “pick up your trash and leave it like you found it or better,” Weast said.
Weast is just one of the 1.2 million annual visitors to Oologah Lake.
“I’ve met people from New York, all over,” Weast said,
“You meet a lot of people just traveling through. They stay one night and move on out.
“All I got to say, they’re missing a lot.”
Did you know?
From a Cherokee word meaning "dark cloud," Lake Oologah is located on the Verdigris River near the cities of Claremore and Oologah.
With 29,400 acres of water, it is an excellent sailing lake. The north part of the lake has shallow water fishing, while the south part has deep water fishing to please all sorts of enthusiasts. Fish monitored and stocked in the lake include large mouth bass, white crappie, white bass, channel catfish, flathead catfish, blue gill, sand bass, walleye, striped bass hybrids and blue catfish.
The lake area also boasts the Oologah Public Hunting Area, which consists of almost 13,000 acres. Almost 1000 acres of the hunting area has been designated a migratory bird refuge.
Source: Corps of Engineers
Ask John Weast