OKLAHOMA CITY - There are countless fishing enthusiasts in the state, but many folks don't realize Oklahoma is home to some of the best places to fish in the country.
On Tuesday, state leaders, along with famed TV fisherman Jimmy Houston, gathered at Lake Thunderbird to announce the new "Oklahoma Fishing Trail."
Houston grew up fishing in lakes not too far from where they gathered.
For more than 40 years, the Oklahoma native has traveled far and wide, starring in TV shows about the sport.
"I`m constantly asked all over the country where my favorite lake is to fish," Houston said. "My favorite lake is Lake Tenkiller, which is here in Oklahoma, but if they say my favorite place I say, 'anywhere in the state of Oklahoma.'"
Houston says he was thrilled to hear about the new "Oklahoma Fishing Trail."
It features six loops - one for each region of the state.
Lt. Gov. Matt Pinnell says the trail encourages Oklahomans to experience all the lakes and diversity in fish our state has to offer.
"Keep your tourism dollars in Oklahoma," Pinnell said. "There`s no reason why you need to go to Arkansas to go fishing. You need to do that right here in Oklahoma."
Fishing is big business in Oklahoma.
Representatives for the Oklahoma Fishing Trail say an average of $1.8 billion is spent on freshwater fishing equipment in the state each year.
There's also an effort to put more emphasis on fishing education in local schools.
Houston offered some of his own advice before hitting the road.
"You gotta kiss your fish if you wanna re-catch em," he said. "It`s kind of like the girls. If you wanna re-catch them, you`ve gotta kiss them."
They're also offering a "Grand Slam" competition based on the fish you catch along the trail.
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