Fishing and hunting
Fish and wildlife resources at Tenkiller Ferry Lake provide a wide variety of outdoor recreation opportunities. Year-round fishing is good with black bass, white bass, striped bass, crappie, catfish, with rainbow trout stocked in the Illinois River below the dam. The trout fishery on the river attracts many visitors, as does the Illinois River above Tenkiller Ferry Lake which attracts canoeists and rafters.
Project lands are open for public hunting, except for developed recreational areas and lands in the vicinity of the dam and other project structures. Approximately 2,500 acres of project land are licensed to the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation for a State Game Management Area. Principal game species include white-tailed deer, mourning dove, duck, geese, cottontail rabbit, and squirrel. Public hunting maps showing both Corps and State areas open for hunting are available from the Tenkiller Ferry Project Office at the dam or on this website. All state laws apply on these lands so be familiar with the rules before you hunt or fish.
Tenkiller is one of the most popular lakes for fishing tournaments. Those of you that would like to schedule your tournament at Tenkiller may contact the office at 918-487-5252. An application must be filled out for each tournament. Sizemore Landing and the Chicken Creek South Boat Ramp Complex are the most popular locations for tournaments.
Camping and picnicking
Camping is big on Tenkiller with 14 campgrounds operated by the Corps, State of Oklahoma, and concessionaires. Types of camping range from primitive to full hookup and are pretty evenly spread out from one end of the lake to the other. All parks have boat launching ramps and the major camping sites and picnic areas are furnished with restrooms, picnic shelters and tables, swimming areas, and places for cooking.
Nestled in the Cookson Hills of eastern Oklahoma, this body of water is known as "Oklahoma's Clear Water Wonderland" and its reputation is well deserved. The lake is well known by fisherman, pleasure boaters and scuba divers as the best place for water-based activities. Just the fact that there are 10 marinas and over 20 launching ramps here should tell you something. All boating on the lake is in accordance with the Oklahoma boating laws and Corps of Engineers regulations.
The sights around Tenkiller Ferry Lake are beautiful. Whether boating on the 12,900 acre lake, driving the nearby highways and roads, or flying over the lake, Tenkiller holds many spectacular views. In 1947 a newspaper reporter from Tulsa, Oklahoma, came to the bustling construction site of the Tenkiller Ferry Dam on the Illinois River. He had come to write an article about what was then one of the largest earth-filled dams under construction in the United States. He was delighted by the cold clear waters of the spring fed streams, the deep winding river valley nestled in the Cookson Hills, and the green forested terrain with its towering rock formations. In his finished article he predicted that Tenkiller Ferry Lake would one day become the emerald jewel in Oklahoma’s crown of lakes. He was right! Today its two main feeder streams, the Illinois River and the Baron Fork, have been designated as Oklahoma scenic rivers. The 130-mile shoreline is ringed by intermittent high bluffs that rise skyward to heights of 200 feet above the lake's surface.
Tenkiller Ferry Lake is a favorite of many swimmers. Most of the gated campgrounds have buoyed swimming areas. There is a swimming beach at Chicken Creek South, near the boat ramp complex, that has lots of parking and grassy areas to picnic while swimming.
Due to the terrain of the lake, areas that are outside the buoyed swimming areas may have sudden drop offs. Be very careful when swimming anywhere on the lake!
The Overlook Nature Trail is a favorite for many hikers. Located at the Tenkiller Dam Overlook, the trail is approximately 1 ¼ miles in length and winds through the woods from the Tenkiller Dam Overlook to Highway 10-A near the Methodist Boys Ranch.