Fall Fishing in Texas

Man fishing in Texas

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Fall is one of the finest times to visit the Lone Star State of Texas, the second-largest state in the United States. While the days are warm and sunny, the temperature cools off some, so visiting the state's many attractions is much more comfortable. But it's always a good idea to check the weather forecast before you go. The season is also the best time to be outdoors in Texas. If you like freshwater or saltwater fishing, make time to visit the area, which offers some of the most ideal fishing of the year in autumn.

Best Time to Fish

Saltwater fishing is at its peak during fall. Most anglers will be keying on red drum, known as redfish in Texas. As the weather cools, redfish begin schooling up in the bays, preparing to migrate into the beachfront waters of the Gulf of Mexico for their annual spawn.

Although this schooling activity occurs in every Texas bay system, the most popular areas for fall flats fishing are Port O’Connor and Rockport on the mid-coast and Port Mansfield, Port Isabel, and South Padre Island along the lower Texas coast.

As fall wears on, big, mature redfish known as bull reds are commonplace in passes and beachfront waters from Port Arthur to Boca Chica Beach. Fall is also the best time of year to tangle with a tarpon or snook along the lower Texas coast.

Where to Fish

Of course, all of the angling action won’t be on the coast. Lakes across Texas will also be seeing increased activity as the weather and water cools. All of Texas’ top bass lakes will have numbers of large fish as bass begin to move shallower during the fall.

Some of the top places to fish during the season are:

  • Lake Fork: Located between the towns of Quitman, Alba, Emory, and Yantis about 90 miles east of Dallas, this is reputed to be one of the best trophy bass lakes in the country. The high probability of catching a true trophy largemouth draws anglers from around the U.S. and beyond.
  • Falcon Lake: Located 40 miles east of Laredo in Zapata on the border of Texas and Mexico, you'll find the Falcon International Reservoir, commonly known as Falcon Lake. Numerous quality largemouth bass are located in the lake, attracting anglers from across the country.
  • Choke Canyon Reservoir: Quality giant black bass and several other types of fish are consistently found in this South Texas reservoir. Approximately 90 miles south of San Antonio and about 4 miles west of the town of Three Rivers, the reservoir is a bit secluded.
  • Galveston: The Galveston Bay system is the biggest in the state and has saltwater fishing piers among its access points from beachfront jetties to the San Luis Pass to Galveston Island State Park. Surrounded by water, Galveston Island, found about 55 miles southeast of Houston, is full of redfish, speckled trout, and flounder. 
  • Lower Laguna Madre: Found between Port Isabel and South Padre Island along the Gulf of Mexico's western coast, this narrow saltwater area is located in Nueces, Kenedy, Kleberg, Willacy, and Cameron Counties. The waters have plenty of snook, tarpon, mangrove snapper, speckled trout, and redfish. The Laguna Madre is one of the most significant and well-preserved lagoon ecosystems in Texas.

Things to Know

Before you head out to the lovely Texas waters, it's best to inform yourself about the state regulations and other tips that will make your fishing trip as smooth as possible.

  • With fall being the shoulder season with a nice climate, you may still come across many other tourists, more so in early fall.
  • For Texas residents (including senior and "special" designations) and non-resident visitors, license year fishing packages include a fishing license and either a freshwater endorsement, a saltwater endorsement with a red drum tag, or both endorsements. Licenses are valid from the date of sale through August 31.
  • Freshwater and saltwater bags and limits are updated annually and important to keep in mind. To fish in coastal waters, a saltwater endorsement is needed; a freshwater endorsement is mandatory for inland waters. For details and exceptions, see license fees and packages.
  • Anyone removing or attempting to remove fish, mussels, clams, crayfish or other aquatic life from state public waters must have a current Texas fishing license with the appropriate endorsement.
  • It is illegal to take, kill, or disturb endangered or threatened fish species or sea turtles. It is against the law to take or kill diamondback terrapin or marine mammals such as dolphins, whales, or porpoises.
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