Freshwater Fishing in Texas

Danno Wise

Texas is home to numerous lakes, rivers, ponds and streams, giving it an incredibly diverse freshwater fishery. Within these waters live an amazing variety of freshwater fish species, many of which one would never expect to come across in the Lone Star State.

As is the case across the nation, bass - largemouth bass, specifically - dominate the Texas freshwater fishing scene. While largemouth bass are extremely popular throughout the United States, that popularity rises exponentially in Texas. That is largely because Texas is home to some of the nation's top bass fishing lakes. These lakes are not only major draws for Texans, but from anglers from across the globe. In fact, bass fishing has become such a popular sport in Texas that most of the towns surrounding these lakes couldn't exist without the economic revenue stream generated from bass tournaments and bass fishing tourists.

Again, while largemouth bass dominate the freshwater fishing scene in Texas, they are far from being the only target species. Texas is home to some exceptional catfish fisheries. Major rivers such as the Red, Brazos, and Trinity are known for yielding monster blue and yellow catfish, as are many of these reservoirs found on these and other rivers across the state. The majority of these big catfish are caught on rod and reel or set line. However, recently Texas changed its game laws to allow hand fishing - or noodling - for certain species, so that sport is gaining in popularity. Channel catfish are found in virtually every rivers, stream, creek, pond and lake in the Lone Star State and are great "family fishing" targets.

Texas waters are also home to a dizzying array of freshwater panfish. Among the most popular of these are white and black crappie and bluegill. Although these species are found in the majority of major reservoirs in Texas, the best crappie and bluegill fishing has traditionally be in the east and central portions of the state. Throughout Texas, panfish such as the green sunfish, warmouth, redear sunfish, and longear sunfish are popular among fishermen just looking for a relaxing day on the water. In the Texas Hill Country and parts of South Texas, Texas' only native cichlid, the Rio Grande perch, inhabits several rivers and streams.

Back to the topic of bass, largemouth aren't the only bass species with a presence in Texas. Striped bass are found in many of the state's rivers and reservoirs. The most notable striped bass fishery is Lake Texoma on the Texas/Oklahoma border, although several other lakes have outstanding striper fisheries, including Lake Austin and Lady Bird Lake, both of which are impoundments on the Colorado River within the city limits of Austin. Most major reservoirs that do not have a population of striped bass have been stocked with hybrid stripers (cross between striped and white bass). White bass are extremely popular - especially during their spring 'run' - and are found in a variety of creeks, rivers, streams and lakes, especially in Central and East Texas.

There are also a few other black bass species in Texas. In fact, Texas' state fish is the Guadalupe bass, a species which is native to and found only in the Texas Hill Country region. Spotted bass are also common on most Texas lakes. And, there is a surprisingly high numbers of lakes in Texas which boast a quality smallmouth bass fishery.

Anglers in Texas also have an opportunity to catch a few species not usually associated with the Lone Star State. In the Texas panhandle, several reservoirs support a healthy population of walleye. Texas also has a surprisingly good trout fishery. In addition to the winter trout stocking program, where rainbow trout are stocked in lakes, ponds and rivers across the state, stretches of Hill Country rivers have good, year around rainbow and brown trout fishing. The absolute best year around trout fishing in Texas is found on the Guadalupe River below the Canyon Lake Dam.

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