Did you know that Texas has some of the best trout fishing in the US? This might be news to you, but there are native rainbow trout and brown trout populations in the Guadalupe River, offering a great chance of snagging yourself some trout, any time of year.
Combine this with the healthy winter trout stocking program and you’ve got the recipe for some amazing fishing in Texas! This southerly state might not be the first place that comes to mind when you’re thinking about trout fishing, but you’ll be pleasantly surprised by the opportunities here.
We’ve created this comprehensive guide to trout fishing in Texas, so that you’ll have all the info you could ever need all in one place, from the rules and regulations to the fish stocking schedule and the best spots to head to for flyfishing Texas.
Texas Fishing License
To go trout fishing in Texas, you’ll need a Texas fishing license and a freshwater stamp. Children aged 16 and under are exempt from needing a fishing license. You can purchase a package which includes both the fishing license and the freshwater endorsement, and there’s the option to add on a saltwater stamp too if you’d like. You can buy your fishing license online here or find out where your nearest retailer is by searching with this tool.
There is also an amazing program that allows you to fish for free in all Texas state parks, all year round. You simply have to turn up with your fishing gear, pay the fee to enter the state park, and you’re good to go. There’s absolutely no need for a license or a freshwater stamp in any of the streams and creeks, and even any lakes that are fully within the park boundaries. Why not take advantage of this to bring the costs of trout fishing down, to introduce your friends and family to your hobby, or just to get the hang of fly fishing yourself without investing a lot of cash at first? Many state parks even have fishing gear available to hire out if you don’t have your own.
Texas Fishing Regulations
If you’re planning on going trout fishing in Texas, the regulations are refreshingly simple and easy to follow. You can bag up to 5 fish per person, per day, and there’s no minimum length limit unlike in many other states.
Guadalupe River Fishing Regulations
The rules are slightly different for the Guadalupe River. If you go Guadalupe river fishing, you’ll find that there are two sections where there are specific regulations for harvesting trout. The first zone begins downstream 800m from Canyon Dam and stretches to the eastern bridge of the FM Road 306. Here, you can take trout that are under 12 inches or over 18 inches, and your daily limit is 5 trout, including just one which is longer than 18 inches. The next zone runs from this point at the easternmost bridge to the second bridge on River Road, not far from Camp Huaco Springs. In this section, trout caught must be more than 18 inches and the daily bag is just one trout of this size. Make sure you use only artificial flies or lures in these areas. You can find the full regulations for the Guadalupe River here.
Texas Fishing Report
Before you head out, you’ll want to check the most recent Texas fishing reports. The Texas Parks and Wildlife department provide helpful weekly updates on the waterways across all the regions of the state, including the temperature and conditions of the water, and what the fish are doing. You can also find some more info on the Orvis website too. If you’re hoping to hit some stocked trout sites, the stocking generally begins around November 30th, but you can find the most up-to-date fish stocking report here.
Best Trout Lures and Flies
Now you want the best trout lures when you go trout fishing to increase your chance of success. We think that the best trout lures to use for fly fishing Texas are the Bead Head Woolly Bugger streamers in brown, olive or black. They get the fish biting like crazy and seem to work especially well for the conditions on the Guadalupe River.
If you’re taking the kids with a spinning rod you should try a Shaky Worm. Fishing for stocked trout is generally a lot easier than wily old resident trout. You can see the Worm in action in the video below. They are definitely one of the best trout bait for stocked trout!
It goes without saying that you should keep your eye out for the insects that are around in the air or on the water, and aim to use lures that have a similar look, colour and size.
If you’re looking for a complete guide of fly fishing entomology you can check out our article.
Best Trout Fishing Lakes and Rivers in Texas
Just a generation or two ago, trout fishing was almost unheard of in Texas. However, with the great stocking program that the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) introduced over 3 decades ago, winter trout fishing is very much an option now! Watch this fish stocking report video to get all in the information on how the trout stocking works in Texas.
The extensive, state-wide stocking program has TPWD releasing over 250,000 rainbow trout into ponds, lakes, rivers, and streams every winter. The fish stocking schedule normally runs from November through to March. In the spring, the water temperature begins to increase, making the water conditions too hot for trout to survive. So it’s during the winter months that you’ll have your best chance at fishing for freshwater trout in Texas. I would especially recommend having a go at winter trout fishing if you’re just a beginner, or if you are taking your kids with you to get their first experience of fishing Texas rivers and lakes.
Texas Trout Stocking Locations
The Texas trout stocking happens state-wide with the aim of making fishing in the Texas lakes and rivers more accessible to the wider population, especially in urban areas. In the 2018-2019 trout fishing season, the TWPD stocked an impressive 170 locaions across Texas, so you’ll be sure to find somewhere near you! You’ll find trout stocked in the state parks, the rivers, lakes, and creeks near the largest cities.
During the 2017-2018 trout season, the locations that were stocked with the largest quantities of fish included River Park found close to Fort Worth, Fort Boggy State Park near the town of Centerville, the Canyon Tailrace on Guadalupe River, New Braunfels and the Comanche Trails Park, which you will find located near Odessa. Whether you’re looking for fishing spots in Houston, San Antonio fishing locations or fishing in Austin Texas, there are bound to be some excellent spots for snagging those freshwater trout.
But don’t worry if you don’t live in one of the bigger cities. The TPWD make sure that they stock the Texas lakes and rivers in more rural locations and in smaller towns too. You can see the Texas fish stocking map here to get a good idea of where your closest locations are.
Fishing Spots in Houston
Located near Houston? You’re in luck – around 30 sites are stocked each year with rainbow trout in the wider Houston area, including small ponds and lakes. Many sites will receive just one stocking, but a few key locations will be stocked every two weeks to allow as many people as possible to have a go at snagging themselves some Texas fish. These regular stocking will take place at Burke Crenshaw Park – Pasadena, Herman Little Park, Community Park – Missouri City and Mary Jo Peckham Park – Katy. If you don’t want to travel far but still make the most of the Texas trout season, you know where to go.
If you’re looking for fishing in Austin Texas, we strongly recommend heading to the Guadalupe River downstream from Canyon Dam – one of the best spots for flyfishing Texas waterways. The Canyon Tailrace section of the Guadalupe River is the only home to native Texan river trout in the state, giving keen anglers the rare opportunity of catching a wild trout year-round. It’s definitely one of the best spots for fishing Texas!
Thanks to the Canyon Dam causing cold water to be pushed up from the bottom of the reservoir, the temperature stays in the comfortable range for trout to survive, even during the warmer months. Guadalupe river trout fishing is truly unique – it’s different from the other Texas rivers and lakes in that it’s the ideal habitat for trout, who thrive and reproduce best in cold waters below 30 degrees. With the special regulations, this area is specifically managed to be a trout hatchery for trophy-size lunkers. And because of this, you’ll find the most beautifully fat trout in all of Texas here! It’s not for nothing that it’s been named one of the spots for the best trout fishing in the US, and among the top 100 trout streams in the country.
Not only this, but the native trout population is boosted by the winter trout stockings. On the Guadalupe alone, around 18,000 rainbow trout are released every year to allow fishers to try their hand at catching a trout. Take a look at this video on the Guadalupe stockings. If you’re lucky, you’ll snag one of the trophy-worthy fish stocked by Guadalupe River Trout Unlimited, an organization that makes it possible for anyone to catch a prize lunker.
Some areas of the river do need a raft or canoe to access them, but if you’re more into fly fishing Texas rivers, you’ll find some great spots too. There’s free access for anglers all year at Guadalupe Park, and over the winter months at Camp Huaco Springs – check the most recent updates here for exact dates. Most of the banks of the Guadalupe River are private property, with a few camps and resorts offering access to the river for a small fee of around $5-6. These include the Maricopa Ranch Resort, Whitewater Sports Campground, Camp Bean’s, and Rio Raft, just above the 4th Crossing.
The trout here, both wild and stocked, respond well to anglers’ efforts – just don’t forget to follow the special regulations in place here. Make sure to use only artificial lures and flies. It is these regulations that allow this area to be such a thriving area for river trout in Texas – the most southerly trout stream in the US, which is quite something!
So there you have our run-down of everything you need to know about trout fishing Texas! Drop me a comment to let me know if you found this article helpful, and if you’ve got any questions, pop them into a comment and I’ll do my best to answer it.
From the license you need to the perfect spot for catching your first trout of the season, you’ve got the latest info on fishing in Texas, and now you’re all set to head on out there. So what are you waiting for? Get your license and stamp, pick your ideal spot, grab your gear and go catch yourself some trout!