San Antonio Fishing: The Complete Guide

Dec 12, 2022 | 9 minute read
Reading Time: 9 minutes

What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you think of San Antonio? Is the history of the Alamo? Maybe the fairytale-like River Walk and gorgeous skyline? Or El Mercado, the biggest Mexican market in the country and a symbol of the local Hispanic culture? Visitors remember this city for its unique beauty, but passionate anglers love it for yet another reason – fishing in San Antonio is simply outstanding.

An aerial view of the San Antonio River Walk just after sunset

San Antonians are proud of their premier fisheries and for good reason. You can cast a line in the city center and get very lucky. If you prefer to fish in nature, no problem – productive lakes and rivers are but a short drive away. Freshwater fishing is a way of life here and once you try it, you’ll understand why that’s the case.

Top Catches in San Antonio

When you arrive in San Antonio, one of your first decisions should be what fish you’d like to target. There’s no shortage of species at your disposal, from freshwater Redfish to gorgeous Rainbow Trout.

Urban ponds and the powerplant lakes outside of the city are regularly stocked thanks to the initiative of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. This means that you can find decent catches any day of the year. Here’s what you can look forward to when you go fishing in San Antonio…

Freshwater Redfishing is Superb

Whether it’s freshwater or saltwater fisheries, Redfish (aka Red Drum) is one of the all-time favorite catches among Texans. Visiting anglers will fall in love with the action pretty quick because these fish are a joy to wrestle with. You can go after Redfish in two nearby power plant lakes – Braunig and Calaveras Lakes.

Three fishermen, standing on a boat, holding three big Redfish

Freshwater Redfish are identical to their saltwater counterparts except for one important distinction – they can’t reproduce. This is not an obstacle for top-notch fishing, because the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department stock the lakes with fingerlings. Fully grown fish can be over 30 inches long and weigh anywhere from 10–30 pounds! These beautiful Bull Reds put San Antonio Redfishing on the bucket list of every freshwater angler.

Reds are available all year, with the peak season being from September to November. This is when they congregate in the thousands around the dam in an attempt to spawn. It’s the best time to find yourself a jumbo Redfish! You can target them from shore and from the boat and be very successful.

It’s sweltering in the summer, so Redfish prefer deeper water, and you can fish for them during the night. These fellas aren’t that picky about food and will gobble down just about any bait you throw at them. To increase your chances of landing a big one, use mullet, blue crabs, and live shrimp. If you find yourself in their feeding frenzy, you’re in for an amazing time!

Bass in All Shapes and Sizes

Texas fishing is synonymous with superb Bass action, and fishing in San Antonio is no different. Whether it’s Largemouth (Bucketmouth), Stripers, White, or Hybrid, you’ll find plenty of good Bass here. Not only are the local waters full of these beauties, but you can go after them any day of the year.

A close-up of a Largemouth Bass

One of the things that anglers love the most about San Antonio is that you don’t have to get out of the city to enjoy a solid Bass bite. Urban fishing is big, so you can catch Stripers, Bucketmouth, and even some Whites in the pond closest to you. True, they might not be trophy-sized, but these stocked fish still offer plenty of excitement.

Look for larger specimens in the surrounding reservoirs, and you won’t be disappointed. Fishermen love going after big Largemouth on a boat, where you’re able to fish deeper waters. These chubby guys like to feed around underwater vegetation and respond well to crankbaits and plastic worms.

Striped Bass go hand in hand with Black Bass action, especially on the power plant lakes. Guadalupe River also boasts some first-class Striper action and you can chase after Guadalupe Bass in these waters. When going after the Striped side of the Bass family, remember that they have a lot of fight in them and can’t resist chicken liver.

Whichever Bass you choose, the productive San Antonio waters will reward you!

Catfish – So Much Whiskery Goodness in One Place

Catfish are another Texas staple that can’t go unnoticed when we’re talking about fishing in San Antonio. Sure, Redfish and Bass are “the belles of the ball,” but make no mistake, Catfish are present in just about every body of water. Some are bigger than others, but they’re gluttonous and active all year, so they’re the ultimate failsafe fish.

An adult angler with two kids standing on a boat holding three Catfish

Blue and Channel Catfish are the usual catch in both the power plant lakes and smaller reservoirs around San Antonio. Cats are bottom dwellers and prefer shallow waters, so you’ll have the best luck finding them close to shore. They can grow to be huge and weigh dozens of pounds. Pulling a plump Catfish from the bottom is no child’s play, so be prepared for a good workout.

The interesting thing about Catfish is that you don’t want to keep massive ones, but rather snap a quick photo and put them back where they belong. If you’re looking to land a Cat that will also be a delicious dinner, you’ll want smaller fish, usually weighing below 10 pounds. They’re the ones that will give you a good fight and fill your freezer with fillets.

If you’re interested in exotic prey, look no further than the River Walk, right in the heart of the city. In this section of the San Antonio River, you might hook into the peculiar Suckermouth Catfish.

These invasive species are originally from South America, and they’re unlike their other relatives. They’re called also “armored” Catfish, and they make for an impressive catch. In San Antonio, there’s a type of Catfish to everyone’s liking!

Rainbow Trout Fishing with an Urban Backdrop

It’s not often that you can fish for Rainbow Trout with a stunning city skyline as your view. In San Antonio, this is an everyday occurrence!

As a part of the Neighborhood Fishin’ program, the state keeps two urban lakes, Millers Pond and South Side Lions Park, constantly stocked with Rainbows, and locals make the most of it. Fishing in the city is open year-round, but the lakes are stocked with fingerlings in the winter because Rainbows prefer cold water. As many as 10,000 new fish go in every year!

A Rainbow Trout being held out of the water by an angler

If you’d rather go off into nature for your fishing session, the Guadalupe River is home to a strong population of Trout. From November–April, fly fishing is especially productive. Traditional fishing is equally good, and on a lucky day you could land specimens that are over 20 inches long. Urban Trout are somewhat smaller, usually in the 12-inch ballpark.

Unlike the rest of the species we mentioned, Rainbow Trout aren’t as common in Texas, which is what makes them even more appealing. Trout fishing in San Antonio is perfect for anglers looking for a change of pace and a truly beautiful catch at the end of their line.

Types of Fishing in San Antonio

Just like in the rest of the Lone Star State, fishing in San Antonio is thrilling for all levels of anglers. Beginners come to discover new fisheries, whereas seasoned fishermen come to enjoy premier action and maybe land a new trophy for their personal record sheet. Here are the most popular types of fishing that you can try, no matter your skill level.

Fishing from Shore

A child walking down the shore of a lake holding a fishing rod

Fishing from land is the chosen method of fishing for many San Antonians. Seeing how there’s a formidable number of urban ponds to choose from, this is hardly a surprise. These small bodies of water are well stocked and provide easy access from land, which is a match made in heaven for any angler.

You can target pretty much any species from shore and have a great time, and this goes for both fishing in the city and its surrounding lakes. If you head to the power plant lakes, it might take a bit of time to find a good shore fishing spot, but your reward will be Catfish and Bass. If you go to the rivers, you can look forward to Rainbow Trout, Alligator Gar, and other smaller species. Either way, there’s plenty for you to do!

Kayak Fishing

An angler fishing in a reservoir from his kayak

If you like the mix of exercise, stunning views from the water, and solid bite, kayak fishing is for you. Some of the best kayak fishing spots are Calaveras Lake and Guadalupe River, among many others.

Locals recommend Calaveras for a fun kayaking experience because it has an easily accessible kayak launch area and you don’t have to go far to find good fish. Catfish and Redfish are the most common catches, and occasional Bass as well. More experienced kayakers will enjoy Guadalupe River where they can find Bass species, Carp, Catfish, and Trout.

Fishing with a Charter

An inside view of a fishing boat with rods in the water, water, land, and sky in the background

Newcomers who’d like to be put on the fish from the get-go should consider hiring a local guide. That way, you don’t have to worry about tackle and location, as you’ll have the help of a pro.

Fishing charters are especially recommended if you’re going to one of the power plant lakes in search of big catches. These reservoirs are big (especially Braunig), and require some expertise to navigate them and find good fish. Not to mention that when you’re fishing from a boat, you can cover more water and find large Redfish and Bass in the reservoirs’ depths. A trustworthy charter will help you do all that and much more.

San Antonio Fishing Spots

If there’s one thing San Antonio has no shortage of, it’s fishing spots. First, you should decide whether you’d like to go fishing within the city proper or if you don’t mind a 30-minute drive to one of the outer lakes. Maybe you’re not sure where to begin, so let us help. Here are just some of the San Antonio fishing spots that have a lot to offer.

Guadalupe River in the fall
  • Calaveras Lake: Only half an hour away from the city center, you’ll find this fishing haven with plenty of Largemouth Bass, Catfish, and Striped Bass to chase. Calaveras Lake is one of the most beloved and productive fishing spots in the area.
  • Victor Braunig Lake: The (much) bigger of the two powerplant lakes, you’ll find Braunig only 17 miles from downtown San Antonio. The reservoir is a Redfisher’s paradise, with Blue Catfish and Bass also on the menu. Just remember that you’ll need to pay a small entry fee that gets you into both lakes.
  • Millers Pond: Here’s a fishing spot that’s a top choice for anglers not wanting to leave San Antonio. The park is perfect for an array of family activities, and the pond is regularly stocked with Channel Catfish and Rainbow Trout for your fishing pleasure.
  • Southside Lions Park: Since we’re talking about urban fishing, we have to mention this well-known angling site. Locals come here to enjoy fresh air and exercise, and of course, get their share of Rainbows and Cats that are stocked here every summer and winter.
  • Brackenridge Park: You shouldn’t visit San Antonio without wetting your line in the San Antonio River, and Brackenridge Park is perfect for that. The river is home to several stocked Trout species, and when you’ve had your share of fishing, head to the nearby zoo to keep the fun going.
  • Guadalupe River: Maybe you prefer to cast your line in the peace and quiet, with only rushing water for company, and that’s exactly what “the Guad” has. Not to mention a superb Rainbow Trout fishery and waters brimming with a variety of freshwater superstars like Bass, Sunfish, and Gar.

Fishing Rules and Regulations

When you go fishing in San Antonio, whether with a guide or on your own, the rules are simple. Wherever you decide to go, you’ll need a valid fishing license, as well as a suitable freshwater endorsement, depending on whether you’re a resident or a non-resident.

Remember that fishing charters will provide everything you need for your trip, except the fishing license, so it’s your responsibility to buy it before you go out. You don’t have to worry about anything else, as your captain will keep you in the loop of current limits and regulations.

San Antonio – A Place of History, Beauty, and Unforgettable Fishing

San Antonio city skyline

With its vibrant culture and history, San Antonio will dazzle you with its warm Southern charm. Here, history comes alive (“Remember the Alamo!”) and the sheer size of the city will impress you, not to mention its splendor and beauty. Passionate anglers come to get a taste of first-class fishing in San Antonio, and they’re pleasantly surprised by the abundance and quality of fish.

This renowned city really has it all. It’s like the slogan of its local chain store says – “Here Everything’s Better!”

Have you ever been fishing in San Antonio? Which spot did you like the most? Is there anything else you’d like to recommend to the community? Share your experiences in the comments.

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