To most people Texas brings images of lone rangers and cowboys, unless they enjoy fishing. Then Texas is all about fish – big fish, of course. Texas has limited diversity due to its climate, but what it has packs a punch!
The best fishing in Texas is bass fishing, although many anglers will tell you otherwise. Its variety of bass is extensive, ranging from spotted, to yellow, to wiper. Lake Amistad, beside the Mexican border, is known for being a premier bass locale as well as for catfish. Cooper Lake is known to be popular, but luckily its large size can handle many fishermen with enough bass to go around.
One of the best bass lakes in Texas is Lake Fork. The majority of Texan trophy bass come from Lake Fork. Largemouth are the best offerings of the lake, as the state record eighteen pounder can attest, but it also holds many other bass including a white and yellow hybrid. Lake Fork is excellent year round, but for the best chances at big ones go in early spring. Bank and boat fishing are both productive methods at Lake Fork. Lake Fork is also a premier channel catfish habitat!
Caddo Lake is another good bass lake, primarily for largemouth. White and spotted bass also swim in Caddo, along with plenty of crappie and catfish. Caddo Lake is home to chain pickerel, which are not widely dispersed through Texas.
The Guadalupe bass is a fun change of pace from the usual smallmouth and largemouth crowd. Found in moving waters, they do well in smaller rivers and streams. San Marcos River, parts of the Guadalupe River, Brazos River drainages, and other areas are safe bets for this uncommon fish. This bass is also the state fish as it is not found in any other state!
Catfish may play second fiddle to bass, but that makes them no less catchable. Their distribution is as widespread as that of Texan bass. Trophy sizes for channel and blue can become huge in Texas! The state record blue surpassed a hundred and twenty pounds, and was caught from Lake Texoma.
Lake Texoma is a known catfish paradise. It also provides excellent bass fishing for bass and crappie. Its bass include striped, spotted and white. Lake Texoma is also the holder of Texas’ record black buffalo and goldeye. For equally abundant catfish, including trophy flatheads, the Brazos River is an excellent option.
Walleye fishing is harder to come by with Texas’ heat, but it is there if you seek it. Walleye in Texas are stocked by the state in some lakes and reservoirs. Palo Duro Reservoir’s walleye are maintained via stocking. With several boat ramps, picnic areas, and RV camps Palo Duro makes a lovely weekend retreat. Lake Meredith is good for walleye as proven when it yielded the state record at just under twelve pounds, and it also has excellent smallmouth bass fishing.
If you are looking for a fight and want one at the end of a reel instead of a fist Texas’ healthy population of inland alligator gar is the best choice. Alligator gar well over a hundred or even two hundred pounds can be caught in Texas! Lake Livingston has great gar fishing, as well as bass, crappie, and catfish. The Rio Grande and Nueces rivers hold good alligator gar opportunities, too.
The lower eastern coast of the Lone Star State curves against the Gulf of Mexico, offering excellent coastal fishing. Tripletail, red snapper, amberjack, kingfish, wahoo, and many more can be caught just offshore. For something more adventurous shark fishing is a year round option along Texas’ coast. The Galveston Jetties are good for drum, sheepshead, speckled trout, Spanish mackerel, and the occasional flounder or shark also nip at bait.
Interestingly, to promote fishing Texas has waived licensure requirements for all fishing within state parks! Outside of parks, however, licenses are needed for everyone sixteen or older. Licenses can be bought online, by phone, or in person at state distributors. Both residents and non-residents can purchase annual or one day licenses for freshwater or saltwater fishing. Resident senior fees are less expensive. Texas also offers lifetime licenses but only from certain state offices.