Texas Fishing: The Complete Guide for 2024

Apr 16, 2024 | 10 minute read
Reading Time: 10 minutes

You’ll hardly find a place in the world where fishing is more a part of everyday life than Texas. With thousands of lakes, dozens of rivers, and over 360 miles of coastline, the Lone Star State boasts some of the most enticing angling in the country and beyond. Texas fishing needs no introduction – just about anything you’d like to catch swims in the state’s waters.

On this page, you’ll find everything you could possibly need to prepare and organize your next great fishing trip in Texas. Whether you’re looking for trip recommendations, general information about this fantastic fishery, or you need some guidance as an enthusiastic beginner angler, we’ve got you covered.

What are you interested in?

Texas is a veritable fishing haven, with both freshwater and saltwater locales boasting some first-class action. Here are some of the most popular fish you can target and catch in Texas.

Best Freshwater Catches in Texas

Freshwater fishing in Texas equals lake fishing, and there’s no shortage of watersheds to choose from. There are almost 7,000 lakes out there, most of them man-made and brimming with good fish. These are the best of the best.

  • Largemouth Bass: These fish are probably the most sought-after freshwater catch. But they’re not the only Bass out there. Smallmouth, Striped, Spotted, White, and Guadalupe Bass (which also happens to be the state fish of Texas) are also all there for the taking. The best time to go after most Bass species is in spring when they spawn, and in summer when they come close to shore.
  • Crappie: You can find both White and Black Crappie in most bodies of water year-round. They usually weigh around 2–4 pounds and make for excellent table fare. Crappie live and travel in schools, so when you hook into one, there are plenty of others around.
  • Catfish: These whiskery fellas are a Texas staple, and whether you’re after Blue, Flathead, or Channel Catfish, you’re in for a treat. Catfish stick to the bottom and they’ll give you quite a fight before you get them into the boat. Cats are on the menu all year, though spring and winter bring most trophy catches (from 70 to 100 pounds).
  • Alligator Gar: Going after Alligator Gar is also particularly popular, and these peculiar-looking prehistoric fish are worthy opponents of all seasoned fishermen. Their weight can reach three digits and they’re strong and smart fighters. They’re the perfect target for anglers looking for their next challenge.

Best Inshore Catches in Texas

Saltwater fishing opportunities in Texas are nothing short of incredible. But when there’s so much to choose from, things can easily get overwhelming. Don’t worry, we’ll take you through it step by step. The most important things to mention are inshore fishing around the Texas Coastal Bend and offshore fishing in the Gulf. We’ll start with the shallow waters:

  • Redfish: Whether you’re after tailing Reds in the backcountry or jumbo specimens closer to the coast, redfishing will bring you pure joy. These fish are strong, they’re a-plenty, and they can range anywhere between 5 to 40+ pounds. You can find them in just about any saltwater environment and they’re a symbol of Texas’s premier coastline fishing.
  • Speckled Trout: Strong fighters that are also delicious, Specks are what you’d call a win-win combination. The best thing of all, they grow big in Texas. How big? You can land ten pounders here, especially in the winter, when Gator Trout show up. Don’t get us wrong, though – the bite is terrific any day of the year!
  • Flounder: We can’t talk about Texas’s fantastic inshore fishing without giving a nod to Flounder. Sure, these fish aren’t much to look at, but they make up for it by being delicious and fun to catch. You can find Flatties in bays such as Galveston, and they’re active for most of the year, except in the winter.
  • Black Drum: This is a great “beginner” fish. Black Drum are fun to catch and they can weigh anywhere from 2 to 40+ pounds. The best time to target them is in spring and summer. Black Drum respond well to a variety of live bait being dragged along the bottom where they can nibble on it before they strike. And there’s an additional bonus – they’re delicious.
  • Sheepshead: The “Convict Fish” is another favorite catch of inshore anglers. They’re abundant year-round, but colder months can provide some top-notch action. Sheepshead are well-equipped for nibbling on crustaceans and oysters with their strange human-like teeth, so you’ll find them close to rocks and underwater structures.

While these are the top five inshore catches in Texas, there’s a lot more you can target. Whether it’s Jack Crevalle or Cobia, Mangrove Snapper or Snook, you’re going to have a blast. You can also try your luck with Tarpon, Spanish Mackerel, and Pompano – you never know what might bite. Just get on the water and enjoy Texas’s amazing fishing!

Best Offshore Catches in Texas

Let’s head into the bluewater, to the domain of the most prized offshore game fish that everyone wants on their line. Texas offshore fishing has earned its stripes due to the fact that the likes of Sailfish, Tuna, Snapper, and Tilefish live in these waters. In other words, some of the most hard-fighting fish are right here. These are just a few you shouldn’t miss.

  • Red Snapper: One of the favorite offshore catches in Texas is Red Snapper – for two reasons. First, the Red Snapper fishing season is always open in state waters, which allows first-class action any day of the year. Second, there are real mammoths swimming in those deep waters. Find a wreck or a reef in at least 50 feet of water, and you’ll find hungry Snapper.
  • King Mackerel: Another offshore species you shouldn’t miss out on is King Mackerel, aka Kingfish. They’re tenacious when hooked, and can grow to weigh anywhere from 10 to 40 pounds. Add to that their many teeth that have no issue sawing through your leader, and you’ve got a challenge. Trolling for King Mackerel in Texas is effective, as the fish will happily take on any live bait.
  • Mahi Mahi: You’ll hardly find a fish more acrobatic than Mahi Mahi. Getting one of these colorful fellas on the line means an unforgettable battle followed by delicious fish fillets. These pelagic fish are usually in the 10–30 lb ballpark, and they feed around debris and weed lines. You’ll know once they’re on the line because the reel will start screaming as they take off on a lightning-fast run.
  • Sharks: Texas fishing for Sharks is a special adventure for anyone looking to test their skill and strength. Blacktip Sharks are the most common catches, but you can also land Tiger, Bonnethead, Bull, and Hammerhead Sharks. Smaller specimens swim nearshore but, for trophy Sharks, you’ll need to go offshore. Use smaller fish to get their attention and hold onto your rod as if your life depended on it.
  • Tuna: Yellowfin and Blackfin Tuna are the “bread and butter” of deep sea fishermen, with Skipjack and Bigeye varieties making an appearance every now and again, too. The most productive fishing spots are the oil rigs, where Tuna love to feed. The best bite happens at night when lunkers weighing over 100 pounds come closer to the surface to feed on flying fish.
  • Billfish: We can’t forget about the billfishing opportunities that Texas boasts. Whether you’d like to face off against Sailfish, Blue Marlin, White Marlin, or Swordfish, you’ve come to the right place. To find these bragworthy catches, the bluewater is your destination. The action gets so good during the summer that there’s even a tournament dedicated to these beauties, the Texas Billfish Classic.

Naturally, these fish are the most popular and beloved catches in Texas. But you also have the chance to go after a variety of other Snappers (Lane, Vermilion, Mutton), along with Groupers (Gag, Goliath, Gag, Scamp, Snowy), Amberjack, Wahoo, and even Golden Tilefish.

Texas Fishing Seasons

The Gulf of Mexico is well-known for its superb fishing, and the “Lone Star State” is no exception. From the deep blue waters of the Gulf to the thousands of man-made lakes further inland, you’ll be spoiled for choice. The aim of this section is to walk you through the different fishing seasons Texas has to offer so you can plan the trip of your dreams.

Some of the most popular inshore species like Redfish, Speckled Trout, Crappie, and Largemouth Bass don’t have a low season, so the action can only vary from good to excellent.

If you prefer casting your line for offshore trophies like Sharks, Red Snapper, Mahi Mahi, Spanish and King Mackerel, Wahoo, Blackfin and Yellowfin Tuna, and Sailfish, then we’d recommend coming in the summer and early fall, from June through October.

Species Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Redfish Good Good Good Good Good Good Good Great Great Great Great Good
Flounder Good Weak Weak Good Great Great Good Good Good Great Great Good
Seatrout Good Good Good Good Great Good Good Good Great Great Good Good
Black Drum Weak Good Good Great Great Great Great Great Great Good Weak Weak
Red Snapper Weak Weak Weak Good Good Great Great Great Good Good Weak Weak
Sailfish Weak Weak Weak Good Good Great Great Great Good Good Weak Weak
Tuna Fair Fair Fair Good Good Great Great Great Great Great Fair Fair
Largemouth Bass Good Good Great Great Great Good Good Good Good Good Good Good
Catfish Great Great Good Weak Weak Good Great Good Weak Weak Good Great

Best Fishing Spots in Texas

It’s next to impossible to pick the best fishing spots in Texas, both because there are thousands of them and because different places fit different appetites. Let’s take a look at the fishing grounds that are worthy of your time. If you’re looking for a super quick answer, take a look at our selection of the top 10 coastal fishing spots for some of the best fishing action in Texas.

Fishing Techniques in Texas

Ok, there are more fish species in Texas than you could ever count, but how to go about catching them? Well, it depends on what you’d like to land. Here’s an overview of the most popular techniques to tickle your imagination.

Get a detailed insight into each of these techniques before you decide what you’d like to try first.

  • Fly fishing: On the freshwater front, Bass are prime targets (Largemouth, Smallmouth, White, Striped, Hybrid Striped, and Guadalupe Bass). Then you’ve got your Rainbow, Brown, and Brook Trout, and a variety of Panfish. Saltwater fly fishing is possible all along the Gulf coast and action on the flats could bring you Redfish, Speckled Trout, Jack Crevalle, and Tarpon.
  • Deep sea fishing: The state enjoys easy access to the prolific waters of the Gulf of Mexico with its reefs, wrecks, and offshore oil rigs. There are different approaches to get that fish on the line – trolling, bottom fishing, and deep dropping all work like a charm. Wherever you find some underwater structure, you’ll find the likes of Red Snapper, Mahi Mahi Tuna, Billfish, Wahoo, and Mackerel. Head out of Port Aransas or Corpus Christi for your best chance.
  • Flounder gigging: If you mention Flounder to a native Texan fisherman, especially along the central coast, there’s one technique that will usually get a big mention: gigging. This involves hitting the water under the cover of darkness and spending your evening looking through the clear water, in search of camouflaged Flounder on the bottom. When you find one, it’s time to strike with your gig. Boom, you’ve got delicious fillets for lunch tomorrow.
  • Bowfishing: This is a technique that’s guaranteed to ramp up the action for even the most discerning of thrill-seekers. Armed with special archery equipment, bowfishing will see you head out to your chosen fishing grounds once the sun has set. You’ll be keeping a careful watch for your tasty target and, once it’s in your sights, it’s just a case of ready, aim, and…fire!

Texas Fishing Trips

Fishing possibilities in Texas are endless but, for first-timers, the sheer variety of options might seem overwhelming. Where to go? When to go? What kind of tackle to bring? How does licensing work? One of the best things you can do is turn to a skilled local for insight. Luckily, there are hundreds of Texas fishing charters at your disposal.

Texas Fishing Regulations

Before you hit Texas’s waters, it’s important to get familiar with fishing regulations and licensing. If you’re fishing solo, read up on what kind of Texas fishing license package you need. When you’re going out with a charter, your guide will inform you about the type of license you should buy. Watch our video about Texas fishing licenses for any additional info you might need.

Many anglers come to Texas to fish the state waters for Red Snapper because, unlike federal waters, the state fishery is open all year. Just follow your captain’s instructions about catch limits and you’re good to go. And if you already know just how fantastic the Texas bite can be, and you want to take other passionate fishermen to it, here’s how you can become a fishing guide in Texas.

As you can see, casting a line in Texas will always leave you wanting more. The only limit to what you can catch is how much time you’ve got and the season. Leave everything else in the hands of your professional guide and they’ll show you the way to the best fishing action.

Texas Fishing FAQs

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Andriana has been in love with nature since before she could walk, and she lives to explore the great outdoors whenever she has the chance. Be it traveling to far-off lands, hiking, or mountain climbing, Andriana loves discovering new places and writing about them. The first time she went fishing with her dad she insisted on returning all the catch into the water. Dad was not pleased. Her curiosity about fishing only grew from there, and she’s been writing and learning about it for years. Andriana’s favorite fish to catch is Mahi Mahi.

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