Bass Fishing in Texas: The Complete Guide

Aug 24, 2022 | 8 minute read
Reading Time: 8 minutes

Texas has much to offer its visitors thanks to its unique landscapes, tasty dining options, and famous Southern hospitality. There really is something for everyone in the Lone Star State, and that goes for the angling action, too – especially when it comes to Bass fishing in Texas! Not only do you have a whole host of Bass species to choose from, but they’re spread all across the state. There are more fisheries than you could shake a stick (or rod) at.

A smiling middle-aged fisherman in a cap sitting on a boat, holding a big Largemouth Bass

Want to explore lakes full of Largemouth, go on a Striper chasing adventure, or simply hook something tasty for lunch? You’ll find it here. It’s true that everything is bigger in Texas, even the Bass fishing opportunities! Want to know what Bass you can catch, where you can catch ’em, and how? Let’s delve in!

Top Bass Species in Texas

Largemouth Bass

We have to start our list with the Largemouth Bass. These fish are legendary in the Lone Star State. Anglers from all over the US come to Texas to fish the local lakes and reservoirs. This is because of one simple reason: the Largemouth Bass here grow bigger and fight harder than anywhere else in the country. The biggest variety that was hooked here weighed over a whopping 18 pounds!

A smiling fisherman holding a fishing rod over his shoulder and a Largemouth Bass in the other hand

Across Texas, the Largemouth Bass season tends to start in the early spring, when the waters are heating up and spawning takes place. These fish prefer clear, quiet waters, and love to lurk around structure that provides protective covering. Think logs, weeds, and rock ledges. Younger species school together, whereas mature Largies are solitary fish. This means that hooking the lunkers can be more challenging. The aggressive action when they bite is more than worth it, though!

Smallmouth Bass

Although they’re often overlooked in favor of their bigger, larger-mouthed cousins, Smallmouth Bass offer up plenty of exciting angling action pound for pound. They also make for excellent table fare. If you’re looking to target something tasty, this Bass variety is the one for you. You’ll find them spread all across Texas, with a penchant for fast-flowing streams, rocky sections of lakes, and cooler waters.

A fisherman in a cap and sunglasses standing on a boat, holding a Smallmouth Bass

Similarly to Largies, Smallmouth Bass start to spawn in the springtime. No matter when you want to target them, a preferred fishing method throughout the Lone Star State is making sure you use light tackle. As these fish are small – usually weighing between 1–4 pounds – light tackle angling allows you to feel every bite, pull, head-shake, and jump. This can really add to the excitement of reeling ’em in!

Striped Bass

What’s this East Coast staple doing in Texas? Well, although Stripers aren’t native to this part of the US, they’ve been successfully stocked in a number of reservoirs here, such as Lake Texoma, which boasts a self-sustaining population of this fish. And it goes without saying why anglers here want to target them. They’re aggressive fighters that can grow to impressive sizes, and they’re also seriously adaptable.

A man stands on a charter boat in Lake Texoma in Texas holding a large Striped Bass

This adaptability means that it’s possible to target Striper year-round in Texas, although the spring months are the most productive. As with Smallmouth and Largemouth Bass, this is when spawning season takes place. Head to clear, flowing upriver shallows for the best results. In summer, Striper head to deeper waters, before returning to the shallows in fall. Finally, fall is when they’re slow and lazy, congregating in the shallows and gorging on bait fish.

Guadalupe Bass

Next up on our list is a species that has Texas written all over it. Guadalupe Bass are so rare that they can only be targeted in the Lone Star state! Because of this, they’ve earned themselves the brag-worthy title of Texas’s state fish. Guads usually only weigh in at around a pound, making them the smallest of the Bass family. But what they lack in size they make up for in sheer energy.

Two anglers with a Guadalupe Bass, the state fish of Texas

Guadalupe Bass are also pretty smart. If you like outwitting your angling opponent, this is the target for you. They’re found pretty much only around Edwards Plateau. They use this area’s fast-moving currents and structure to their advantage, often ducking and diving around rocks, weeds, and into holes before ambushing their prey. You’ll find Guads in Texas year-round, but they’re especially feisty come summertime.

And More…

The four species above are the most popular Bass in Texas but they’re by no means the only varieties you’ll find here. White Bass inhabit the state’s many freshwater lakes, ponds, and rivers, and are often joined by Spotted Bass.

How can I go Bass fishing in Texas?

Depending on your own angling skill levels and where you want to fish and, the easiest way to hunt Bass in Texas is with a local guide. These experts will be able to take you to where the Bass bite is hottest, and help you test out tried-and-true local techniques.

You don’t need to have any existing knowledge to fish for Bass in this way. If you’re looking for the perfect introduction to the sport, a guide is the way to go. Depending on the fish you’re targeting, you’ll potentially be trolling (Striped Bass), or casting with lures and live bait.

A man holds a Smallmouth Bass up to the camera with the water in the background

Would you rather head out on foot with just your rod and reel for company? You can also cast for various Bass species from shore. You don’t need anything fancy to do it, either. Here are some “need to know” basics that’ll help you get the most out of your trip…

What rod, reel, and tackle should I use?

Your setup can vary depending on the size and species of Bass you’ll be targeting and the fishery you’ll be exploring. However, a good overall setup is a medium 6–8′ spinning or spincasting rod with a 4,000 or 5,000 class reel. Pair this with a 30 lb test braid and a 12–15 lb test fluorocarbon leader.

What type of bait is best for Bass?

What a question! For some anglers, choosing the best bait or lure for their target Bass species is something of an art form. The good news? Each Bass family member is, in general, aggressive and opportunistic when it comes to feeding.

The most important part of choosing your Bass bait is, as always, matching it to the fishery you’ll be casting a line in. Lake Texoma’s brackish waters, for example, are very different to the many Bass ponds scattered around Texas. Having an idea of which bait fish are living in your chosen fishery goes a long way.

A man holding a big Largemouth Bass on a boat

Largemouth Bass, for example, will feed on anything from shrimps and insects to crabs, frogs, and even baby alligators. This means that you’ll want to opt for lures that resemble their prey, as well as live or dead bait that can already be found in the area you’ll be fishing in. Crawfish in particular are a good “go-to” bait for Black Bass varieties.

Striped Bass can usually be found around groups of schooling shad – their preferred bait fish. Because of this, live shad, artificial silver spoons, other lures that resemble shad, and most cut baits such as eels and herring are strong options.

All Bass respond well to both lures and live bait. What you opt for is up to you and can be tailored to suit your local fishery and the Bass you want to reel in.

What’s a good rig for Bass?

Listing all the potential Bass rigs out there would seriously fill a whole book. Your rig will also depend heavily on where you choose to fish. Because of this, we’ve decided to cover two of the most common rigs for Bass fishing in Texas below. One is an excellent choice for Largemouth Bass and Black or freshwater Bass in general, whereas the other is a Striper hit.

A teen holds a Striper on board a charter on Lake Texoma in Texas on a sunny day
  • Texas rig: How could we possibly write a blog about Bass fishing in Texas without mentioning this rig? It basically involves tying a free sliding bullet weight onto a worm hook or flipping hook. The rig is then fitted with a soft plastic lure, such as a lizard, tube, creature bait, or worm. The hook is threaded through the tip of the bait and then turned, so the point of the hook is buried back into the body of the soft plastic, making it impossible to snag. Simple yet deadly!
  • Topwater fishing: This basically involves luring your Bass to the surface of the water with a topwater lure or floating plug. It’s generally used when trolling, but you can also implement it when casting from shore. Simply focus your attention (and lure) on areas where Stripers are breaking the water surface.

You can easily set up these rigs using your basic “all-rounder” fishing gear. If you’re trying out the Texas rig, bring a variety of bullet sinkers weighing between 1/8 of an ounce to 1 1/2 ounces (a 1/8 ounce makes for a slow-falling lure in shallow waters, for example). When choosing your topwater lure, opt for something with a white belly, as this is what Bass are used to seeing when they approach their prey from this angle.

Where can I go Bass fishing in Texas?

As the second-biggest state in the whole of the US, it’s safe to say that there are plenty of excellent Bass fishing spots scattered all across Texas. Here are some of our favorites.

A boy shore fishes from Striper in Lake Texoma's Eisenhower Park in Texas
  • Lake Texoma: All about variety when it comes to your Bass fishing adventure? Then Lake Texoma is the place for you. You’ll be able to target Largemouth, Smallmouth, and Striped Bass in this brackish fishery. Eisenhower State Park is a great starting point, as it provides access to the fish-filled Denison Dam.
  • Sam Rayburn Reservoir: This Bass fishery, located in Southeast Texas, is famous for holding trophy-sized Largemouth Bass. In fact, it has so many of them that there are several Bassmaster tournaments that take place on this body of water!
  • Lake Fork: Located just outside of Dallas, this lake is extremely accessible, surrounded by beautiful scenery, and – most importantly of all – is packed full of “lunker” Largemouth Bass. You’ll also be able to target White Bass here.
  • Austin: Is it cheating to include an entire city on our list? Not when it boasts access to a variety of lakes – and not when it’s the only place where you can target the elusive Guadalupe Bass! On top of this, you can also hook into Largemouth, Striped, and White Bass in the waters surrounding Austin.

Anything else I need to know?

Blue infographic with white text saying "Bass Fishing in Texas Rules and Regulations" with the Texas state flag and a vector of a boat

Just the legalities of fishing here, of course. Whether you’re fishing Texas’s fresh or brackish waters for Bass, you’ll need to purchase a valid license to cast a line legally. Costs differ depending on how long you’d like your license to last for, and whether or not you’re a resident of the Lone Star state. You can check out our definitive guide to getting a fishing license in Texas for more information.

Bass Fishing in Texas: Bigger and Better!

An angler holds a Largemouth Bass caught freshwater fishing in Texas

If you’re looking to potentially hook into some trophy-sized Bass, where could be better to visit than the state where everything’s bigger? On top of that, you can also come across varieties of Bass that you won’t encounter anywhere else in the world. Whether you’re just starting out on your Bass fishing adventure, or are looking to hone your skills even further, this is the place to do it. Come cast a line in Texas!

Have you ever been Bass fishing in Texas? What did you catch? Let us know in the comments below. We love hearing from you!

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