Lake Livingston Fishing: The Complete Guide for 2024

Jan 10, 2024 | 10 minute read
Reading Time: 10 minutes

As the second largest lake entirely within Texas, Lake Livingston is a feat of human engineering. But it’s also a natural wonder that anglers should take note of. Fishing in Lake Livingston is an experience everyone should try at least once. 

A view from shore towards Lake Livingston at sunset on a bright day, with calm waters visible and a tree overhanging the image

Since its construction in the 1960s, the lake has been one of the Lone Star State’s premier fishing destinations. The allure of casting a line here is hard to describe in one word. It’s a haven for outdoor enthusiasts, blending the thrill of breathtaking scenery and bird watching with unparalleled angling opportunities. 

In this guide, we’ll delve deep into the treasures Lake Livingston holds. We’ll explore the diverse species that make these waters home. We’ll then journey through the best spots to cast your line, delve into tried-and-true techniques, and discuss the prime seasons for a trophy catch. So without further ado…

Top Lake Livingston Fish Species

Lake Livingston fishing isn’t just about casting your line and hoping for the best. Here, you’ll get the chance to land anything from the iconic Striped Bass to the lurking Alligator Gar. You can cast for the feisty Largemouth Bass or wait patiently for a Catfish nibble, too. Let’s prep you for your next big catch:

Bass

An angler in a hat and sunglasses sitting cross-legged on the bow of a fishing boat after a successful day on the water, holding two Striped Bass and surrounded by eight others laid out around him
Photo courtesy of Fish On Fishing Guide

The excitement of hooking into Striped Bass is often the primary reason anglers flock to Lake Livingston. Stripers – nicknamed “Linesiders” locally – are the undisputed superstars of the lake. An average Striper here can measure anywhere between 20 to 30 inches, with trophy specimens passing the 40-inch mark.

If Linesiders are the lake’s superstars, Smallmouth and Largemouth Bass are its consistent performers. “Smallies” are best targeted near rocky areas and submerged structures, while “Bucketmouths” prefer the lake’s vegetative regions. White Bass and their Hybrid counterparts round off the Bass family in Lake Livingston. These feisty fish are popular targets during their spring run up the tributaries.

For an authentic Livingston experience, consider “walkin’ the dog” for Stripers. This is a topwater technique involving rhythmically twitching a lure to mimic injured bait fish. When targeting Largemouths, flipping and pitching in the heavy cover can yield good results. White Bass enthusiasts, on the other hand, swear by slab spoons and tail-spinners, especially during the spawning season.

Popular Lake Livingston Bass fishing spots include the eastern side and the areas near the dam. Kickapoo Creek is also a local favorite. Remember, the early bird gets the Bass!

Catfish

A man in shorts, a rain coat, and baseball cap standing on some grass on a cloudy day and holding a sizeable Catfish caught in Lake Livingston, with trees and a few buildings visible behind him in the distance
Photo courtesy of Lake Livingston Texas Guide Services

There’s something incredibly satisfying about pulling a Catfish from the depths of Lake Livingston. These whiskered creatures are staples of the local scene. Blue Catfish and Channel Catfish are the dominant species, with some Cats reaching impressive sizes of over 50 pounds.

These fish are opportunistic feeders. Anglers are always welcome to experiment with anything from traditional stink baits and liver chunks to more localized favorites like shrimp and shad. The key is to keep things organic. Night fishing is also a popular Catfish tradition.

Areas near the dam, creeks feeding into the lake, and deeper channels are prime Catfish spots. The mouth of White Rock Creek is especially productive during the warmer months. Arm yourself with patience, though. Catfishing is as much about the wait as it is about the catch!

Crappie

A closeup of a young angler in a hat holding up a Crappie above their face aboard a Lake Livingston fishing charter on a sunny day with water and land visible in the distance
Photo courtesy of Fish On Fishing Guide

Crappie fishing in Lake Livingston is a year-round pleasure. These Panfish always provide consistent action! “Specks” come in two varieties here: White and Black. Typically, these fish measure between 8 and 15 inches, making them a favorite for anglers seeking a good meal after their trip.

Crappie are structure-oriented fish. They love hanging around submerged timber, brush piles, and boat docks. Spring is the perfect time to cast near submerged structures with minnows or small jigs when Crappie move to shallower waters to spawn.

Check out the northern parts of the lake, particularly around the Kickapoo and Bethy Creeks. Pine Island is another must-visit spot for Crappie enthusiasts. Tight lines!

Alligator Gar

A photo of an angler wearing a cap and a pair of sunglasses while standing on a Louisiana fishing charter boat and posing with Gar
Photo courtesy of Right Side Charters

Alligator Gar is Lake Livingston’s aquatic dinosaur. With their long, tooth-filled snouts and armor-like scales, these prehistoric fish are truly quite a sight. Often exceeding 5 feet in length, Alligator Gar are a challenging yet exceptionally rewarding catch.

Gar are ambush predators, often lying in wait for the perfect moment to strike their prey. Remember, these fish have tough mouths, so a good hookset is crucial. However, get ready to play the waiting game. Set up a baited rig in potential Gar territory, then watch out for any movement. Once hooked, be prepared for a fight. 

The Trinity River, which feeds right into Lake Livingston, is an excellent spot to start. 

Bluegill 

A young boy in a baseball cap standing on a boat and holding a Bluegill fish with the waters of a lake visible behind him on a cloudy day
Photo courtesy of The Hook Up Guide Service

Bluegill – aka “Bream” or “Brim,” as the locals call them – are the behind-the-scenes champions of Lake Livingston. These Panfish might be smaller than others on the Lake Livingston fishing menu, but they’re abundant and provide consistent action for anglers of all skill levels.

Bluegill are fun to catch, especially on light tackle. These fish hang out in shallow waters, especially around vegetation and submerged timber. An average catch is between 6 and 10 inches making them a perfect target for families and novice anglers.

Worms, crickets, and small jigs are the local baits of choice when targeting Bluegill. These fish aren’t particularly picky, so feel free to experiment with bait presentations. The Kickapoo and Bethy Creeks are particularly productive spots. 

How to Go Fishing Lake Livingston

Diving deep into Lake Livingston fishing, it’s time to reveal the most productive fishing methods. Of course, each technique is usually tailored to individual species and the structure of the lake. Here’s how to make the most of each type:

Lake Livingston Bank Fishing 

A view out to the calm waters of Lake Livingston on a clear day across a small wooden dock, which could be used for boats or fishing

With over 450 miles of shoreline, the opportunities for bank fishing in Lake Livingston are aplenty. Every bend, cove, and inlet offers a raw, unfiltered connection with the lake. No fancy equipment or boats are required.

Catfish are a common target for those fishing from the banks, with Bluegill and Largemouth Bass also frequently visiting these shallow areas. The key to success while working the bank is observation. The presence of bait fish, surface activity, or even birds can all hint at potential fish-holding spots.

Lake Livingston Dam Fishing

The mighty dam of Lake Livingston isn’t just about impressive engineering. The structure creates unique water dynamics, drawing a variety of hungry game fish. Tackling these waters requires sturdy equipment. Heavy-action rods, combined with reels that have a substantial drag system, are a must.

The dam is particularly famous for its Striped Bass population. These powerful swimmers are attracted to the strong currents and deeper waters. Vertical jigging is especially effective in these parts. It’s not just Stripers, though. Catfish lurk in the deeper pockets, too. 

For the best results at the dam, local knowledge is invaluable. Seasonal movements, water temperature, and understanding the dam’s unique topography can play a crucial role in a successful fishing trip. 

Lake Livingston Trolling

A trolling rod sticks out from the side of a boat on a lake on a sunny day, with land visible ion the distance

Trolling the deep waters of Lake Livingston is like unlocking a mystery. It’s a game of patience, skill, and understanding the water’s secrets. Mix that with the opportunity to target and land something elusive, and you’re onto a winner.

The depths of Lake Livingston are particularly attractive to schools of Striped and White Bass. Trolling with a mix of crankbaits, spoons, or even live bait can yield incredible results. The trick is understanding the depth at which these fish are feeding. The occasional Catfish or even Alligator Gar can also get hooked during when trolling!

This technique requires a mix of preparation, observation, and adaptability. Adjusting your boat speed and depth of your lures, along with experimenting with different colors, can all make the difference between a good and great day on the water! 

Lake Livingston Fly Fishing

If you’re more into fly fishing, pack your gear and head out to Lake Livingston. The expansive surface area is home to a myriad of coves, inlets, and shallow flats. The gentle art of fly casting here may result in impressive catches. If you know where to look, that is!

Bluegill and Crappie are typical targets for fly anglers in the lake. Bluegill are known for their appetite, striking small dry flies or nymphs like there’s no tomorrow. Crappie, on the other hand, require a bit more finesse. The trick lies in mimicking the natural movement of their prey, making every twitch and retrieve count.

Bass – both Largemouth and Smallmouth – also present an exciting challenge on the fly. These predatory fish require larger streamers, mimicking bait fish or frogs. The key is to understand their habitat, be it grassy edges, submerged structures, or shadowy nooks.

Lake Livingston Charter Fishing

A group of happy anglers aboard a fishing charter in Lake Livingston on a sunny day, with each of them holding a small Striped Bass along with fishing gear, with the water visible behind them and land in the distance
Photo courtesy of Fish On Fishing Guide

By booking a Lake Livingston fishing charter, you’ll get an adventure curated by seasoned professionals. These trips are run by captains who’ve spent years, if not decades, understanding the lake’s moods. Stepping aboard a licensed charter is like accessing a treasure trove of local knowledge, techniques, and spots.

Lake Livingston charters come equipped to chase them all. High-quality rods, reels, and an array of lures and baits is usually a given. Plus, your guide will tailor the trip to suit your needs. 

Top Lake Livingston Fishing Spots

Now that you know what to target and how, it’s time to discuss the most productive spots to get that prized catch. Seasoned Lake Livingston fishing guides divide the lake into four distinct fishing areas: the south end, the dam, the mid-lake area, and the Trinity River in the upper end. Let’s digest them one by one.

South End

A view from behind of a grey-haired angler in a baseball cap and t-shirt fishing into the pristine waters of the south end of Lake Livingstone near its namesake city on a sunny day
Photo courtesy of Lake Livingston Fishing Guide

The southern part of Lake Livingston is characterized by its pristine waters, with numerous docks that practically invite anglers to cast a line. Of course, It’s not just about the serene ambiance and aimlessly wetting your line. The underwater world here is pretty generous, too. 

Flats and submerged structures in the southern part are home to various exciting fish species. If you’re lucky, you can expect to come across anything from Catfish and Striped Bass to Crappie and White Bass. Some of the most sought-after fishing spots in this region include Wolfe, Kickapoo, Indian, and Penwaugh Creeks. Each has a unique charm and potential!

Lake Livingston Dam

As we mentioned earlier, the Lake Livingston Dam provides an experience like no other. It combines the raw power of cascading waters with the thrill of catching fish, particularly the majestic Alligator Gar. These prehistoric relics aren’t the most common catches, though. Striped Bass and Catfish are much more popular. 

Mid-Lake

Venturing into the heart of Lake Livingston, the mid-lake area is known for its submerged timber and rocky formations. Among these, White Rock and Caney Creeks stand out as the area’s star attractions. Here, you can hunt for Largemouth Bass that lurk around rocky areas and cool, shaded sections of the mid-lake region. 

But the lake’s bounty doesn’t end there. With the expertise of a seasoned captain leading the way, anglers can also get their hands on the mid-lake’s White Bass, Catfish, and Bluegill. And for those seeking an extra challenge, the waters near the Hwy 190 bridge hold a reputation as a hotspot for Striped Bass.

Upper End – Trinity River

A view along the Trinity River at sunrise, with mist rising up from the lake and the sun visible in the distance behind some clouds

The real magic happens where Lake Livingston meets the Trinity River. Here, the fishing possibilities take on a new dimension. With well-marked channels using buoys, anglers can easily locate prime fishing zones. 

This junction teems with diverse species, from White and Striped Bass to Bluegill and Blue Catfish. Notably, the waters around Harmon and Carolina creeks stand out as productive spots in this upper section.

Lake Livingston Fishing Season

A group of happy anglers aboard a fishing charter in Lake Livingston on a sunny day, sitting around a cooler full of fish, with the water visible behind them and land in the distance
Photo courtesy of Big Dawg Outfitters – Livingston

One of the best things about Lake Livingston fishing is its year-round availability. Texas’s winters keep the fish biting even in the colder months, while summers turn up the fishing heat. Here’s a breakdown of what you can expect throughout the year:

  • Spring. This season is all about a surge in activity after the colder months. White Bass spawning season is in full swing, especially from late January through March near the Trinity River. Largemouth Bass also become more active in the White Rock and Caney Creeks in the mid-lake area. 
  • Summer. Striped Bass, Crappie, and Bluegill thrive in the warm summer waters. This is a good time to target Alligator Gar near the dam. As well as that, the south end becomes a busy spot. Docks, flats, and submerged structures here are bustling with fish.
  • Fall. Catfish become more active come fall, seeking out warmer pockets of water. Striped Bass and Crappie also remain good targets. The areas around Lake Livingston Dam are excellent for Alligator Gar, while the south end, particularly Wolfe and Kickapoo Creeks, offer good Catfish opportunities. 
  • Winter. Bluegill and Striped Bass are the main winter attractions. Mid-lake regions, especially around submerged structures, can promise good catches. The Hwy 190 Bridge area becomes particularly productive for Striped Bass.

In Lake Livingston, there’s always something biting, no matter the season. However, not all species are up for grabs all year round. More on that below. 

Lake Livingston Fishing: Rules and Regulations

Before you set out on your Lake Livingston fishing adventure, there are a few essential regulations to keep in mind. 

First and foremost, a valid Texas fishing license is a must. The cost varies depending on whether you’re a state resident or not. However, there’s a notable exception – if you’re fishing from Lake Livingston State Park, there’s no need to purchase a license! The lake also has specific rules about the quantity and size of fish you can keep. 

Fishing Lake Livingston: Discover the Heartbeat of the Deep South

A view across the calm waters of Lake Livingston at sunset, with the sun creating a bright orange hue on the horizon, with a tree-lined shore visible as a silhouette in the distance

Venturing into Lake Livingston fishing offers an authentic Texan angling experience unlike any other. Its waters, with a rich diversity of fish species, coupled with a scenic backdrop and the charm of surrounding towns, are a testament to its appeal. It’s time to discover why many consider Lake Livingston the heart and soul of Texan freshwater fishing!

Have you ever been fishing in Lake Livingston? What’s your favorite species to target? Did we miss anything? Let’s chat in the comments below!

Author profile picture

Lisa traded the lecture hall for the vast expanse of the world's waters, transforming her love of teaching into an insatiable passion for angling and storytelling. She would sail through oceans, lakes, and rivers, reeling in the world’s fish stories one catch at a time.

Leave a reply
NameRequired *
Your comment Required *