Texas Fishing: All You Need to Know Before You Go
Nov 19, 2020 | 11 minute read
Reading Time: 11 minutes

You’ll hardly find a place in the world where fishing is more a part of everyday life than in 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.

A view of Chisos Mountains, an iconic Texas landscape

That’s why we’ve separated the “Top Catches” segment into three sections – freshwater, saltwater, and offshore. That way, you’ll have a complete overview of the most popular species here. Let’s jump right into it!

Top Freshwater Catches in Texas

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

Bass, Bass, and more Bass!

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

There’s no fish that’s more coveted in the Texas freshwater world than Bass. Largemouth Bass is at the very top of everyone’s wishlist. Smallmouth, Striped, Spotted, White, and Guadalupe Bass are all there for the taking as well, and in good numbers.

The living conditions in many of the lakes are perfect for Bass, especially Largies, which allows them to reach 10 pounds or more. The best time to go after most Bass species is in spring when they spawn, and in summer when they camp out close to shore. The truth is that whenever you hit the water, there’s a hungry Bass out there waiting for your bait.

What’s Texas Fishing Without Crappie?

A young angler holding a White Crappie while standing on a boat

Another species for the books is Crappie. You can find both White and Black Crappie in most bodies of water all year, and these are one of the “safety net” species – even when all other fish are slow, Crappie don’t give up.

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’s plenty of others around. In short, Crappie have all the makings of a superb catch.

Catfish Equals Lots of Fishing Fun

A laughing fisherman holding a huge Catfish with cloudy sky and water in the background

The South is known for its outstanding Catfishing, and Texas is no exception. These whiskery fellas are a Texas staple, and whether you’re after Blue, Flathead, of Channel Catfish, you’re in for a treat. These species stick to the bottom and they’ll give you quite a fight before you get them into the boat.

Just like Bass and Crappie, Cats are on the many all year, though spring and winter offer most trophy catches (from 70–100 pounds). You can target them in lakes and rivers, and they’re a fun prey for both beginners and seasoned anglers.

And Much More…

A happy family of anglers sitting on a boat with a Alligator Gar on man's lap

While Bass, Crappie, and Catfish are the trifecta of Texas freshwater fishing, they’re hardly the only species to go after. Carp, Sunfish, and Aligator Gar should also have a spot on your to-catch list.

Going after Alligator Gar is particularly popular, and these peculiar-looking prehistoric fish are worthy opponents of seasoned fishermen. Their weight can reach three digits, and on top of that, they’re strong and smart fighters. They’re the perfect target for anglers looking for their next challenge.

Top Saltwater Catches in Texas

Saltwater fishing in Texas is a bit of a complex subject, but let’s try and unpack it. The most important things to mention are inshore fishing around the Texas Coastal Bend and offshore fishing in the Gulf. Let’s check out amazing game fish that swim in these waters.

The Iconic Redfish

A smiling fisherman in a cap and sunglasses, standing on a boat, holding a Redfish

There’s no fish more popular in Texas than 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, there’s a lot of them, and they can grow to be quite large. A lot of anglers come to the Texas beaches in the fall to tackle Bull Reds on their way to the Gulf, and the action is astounding. You can find them in just about any saltwater environment and they’re the symbol of Texas’ premier coastline fishing.

Gator Trout for All

Two young anglers holding big Speckled Trout, with water and blue sky in the background

If there’s one game fish that’s synonymous with inshore coastal fishing, it must be 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 it’s the best time to go after Gator Trout. Don’t get us wrong, though – the bite is terrific any day of the year!

Flounder Dreams Come True

A young man and a woman standing on a boat at night, holding four Flounder

We can’t talk about Texas’ 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, and they’re active for most of the year, except the winter. Go after Flounder in spring, when they return from the Gulf into the inshore waters, or in the fall, when they’re on their way to the Gulf to spawn. Both times, you can find top-notch specimens on your line and turn them into a scrumptious dinner. This is what makes the Flounder an inshore superstar!

And More…

A smiling young man holding a big Black Drum fish

The coastal side of the Texas fishing scene is a smorgasbord of opportunities. The premier Black Drum action stands shoulder to shoulder with Redfish, Trout, and Flounder fishing. Sheepshead, Mackerel, Jack Crevalle, Snook, and Tripletail are all on the menu.

Top Offshore Catches

Last, but not least, let’s discover the riches of offshore Texas fishing in the Gulf of Mexico. What’s there to catch? Just about anything! Whether you stay in the state waters, or move deeper into the Gulf, there’s no shortage of fish to keep you busy.

Red Snapper Year-Round!

One of the favorite offshore catches in Texas is Red Snapper, and for two reasons. First, the fishing season is always open in the state waters (up to nine nautical miles from shore), which allows the first-class action any day of the year. Second, there are real mammoths swimming in those deep waters.

A woman in a cap, standing on a boat, holding a big Red Snapper

Even though you can land a trophy here every season, going out in the winter could prove to be most productive. There aren’t that many anglers around, so there’s more fish for you. Find a wreck or a reef in at least 50 feet of water, and you’ll find hungry Snapper. Then it’s time to find out why Texas Red Snapper fishing is all about.

Texans Love Their Tuna

Among many amazing offshore species on offer, none is more appealing and fight-ready than the mighty Tuna. Yellowfin and Blackfin Tuna are the “bread and butter” of deep sea fishermen, with Skipjack and Bigeye making an appearance every now and again.

A smiling middle-aged angler standing on a boat, holding a Blackfin Tuna

The most productive fishing spots are bluewater oil rigs, where Tuna congregate to feast on baitfish. The best bite happens during the night when these ultimate game fish come closer to the surface to feed on flying fish. This is when you can hook into lunkers that weigh over 100 pounds! You can also go after Tuna in the winter when the fish are smaller, but the fight is just as satisfying. Basically, whenever you decide to go on a Tuna hunt, you’re in for a trip you’ll never forget!

And More…

A happy woman in a cap and sunglasses, standing on a boat, holding a Golden Tilefish

Of course, there’s more, we’re talking about fishing in Texas! Pelagics like Mahi Mahi, Wahoo, and King Mackerel are abundant. You can also stumble upon massive Amberjack, Grouper, and Golden Tilefish. All there for your fishing pleasure!

Types of Fishing 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 a short overview of the most popular techniques to tickle your imagination.

Texas Lake and Reservoir Fishing

A view of a Texas lake with a Largemouth Bass being pulled out of the water

Did you know that there’s only one natural lake in Texas, Caddo Lake? All other lakes are man-made reservoirs. Texans simply call them lakes, though, and there are thousands of them all over the Lone Star State. You can spend a lifetime exploring them!

A vast majority of these lakes are fishing-perfect. If you’re new to the area, there are usually experienced locals ready to take to the best angling spots. You can look forward to some classic light tackle action, trolling, or fly fishing. All you have to do is pick a lake and enjoy it!

Texas Pier Fishing

Fishing rods jammed into the rocks of a pier in Texas

Piers boast great year-round fishing action, which makes them perfect for anglers of all levels. You can find a pier or a dock in just about any town on the Coastal Bend, so you’ll be spoiled for choice.

An advantage of pier fishing in Texas is that it’s affordable – either there’s a small entrance fee or you can fish for free. There’s also a lot of different species to target, though the list changes from pier to pier. The most common prey are Black Drum, Redfish, Speckled Trout, Sharks, Flounder, Pompano, Jack Crevalle, and Spanish Mackerel.

For some of the best pier action, head to Galveston Pier, Red Dot Pier, Pirate’s Landing Fishing Pier, Rockport Pier, Indian Point Pier, and 61st Street Fishing Pier.

Texas Kayak Fishing

A kayak angler fishing from his kayak at sunset

Kayak fishing is big in Texas! In fact, it’s one of the favorite ways for locals to enjoy the superb freshwater bite of the state’s lakes. Go kayak fishing on a river to admire stunning nature while hooking into your dinner.

You can look forward to premier Bass, Crappie, and Catfish action. If you prefer the inshore coastal fisheries, you’ll encounter Redfish, Snook, Specks, and Mackerel all along the Coastal Bend.

The best places to go kayak fishing in Texas are Caddo Lake, Lady Bird Lake, Colorado River, Devils River (for more experienced kayakers), and Fork Lake.

Fishing with a Charter

Four fishermen holding their fishing rods and standing on a charter boat

Texas’s fishing possibilities are endless but, for first-timers, they 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 for yourself is turn to a skilled local for insight. Luckily, there are hundreds of Texas fishing charters at your disposal.

Choose a body of water where you know the fishing is fantastic, and you’ll find charters nearby. With no need to bring your own gear, all you have to do is show up, listen to your guide’s advice, and make the most of your day. Whatever technique you’re into, whatever species you’d like to land, there’s a charter in Texas that can make it happen.

Top 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.

Top Freshwater Spots

A view of the Toledo Bend Lake from the shore
  • Lake Texoma: This gorgeous lake straddles the border between Texas and Oklahoma and is one of the most loved Striper fisheries in the country. You can visit Lake Texoma any time for excellent Bass action, but don’t forget about top-notch Crappie, Catfish, and Alligator Gar.
  • Sam Rayburn Reservoir: This is the perfect destination for competitive anglers. There are several Bassmasters tournaments that take place on Sam Rayburn. Largemouth Bass is the star of the show, with Catfish and Crappie following closely behind.
  • Lake Conroe: If you’re going fishing with your family, Lake Conroe is a good choice. There’s plenty of recreational activities to enjoy here and fishing for Catfish, Bass, and Crappie should be the first thing on your list.
  • Lake Fork: Looking for your next record Largemouth Bass? Lake Fork is the place to chase for it. This body of water is known for its trophy Largies, and the best way to target them is from a boat because you’ll have better access to real lunkers.
  • Toledo Bend Lake: This is the largest lake in the state and it hides jumbo Largemouth Bass in its depths. If you like fishing in more remote locations, there are reaches of the lake that are untouched and rich in fish that will bend your rods and steal your heart.

Top Saltwater Spots

An aerial view of Port Aransas
  • Galveston Bay: Where to begin with Galveston? This is the city best-known for its charter fleets and epic fishing. Trout, Flounder, and Redfish inshore, Cobia, Snapper, and King Mackerel nearshore, and a slew of pelagics in the bluewater are at your disposal.
  • Port Aransas: Go fishing out of Port Aransas and explore one of the bays that are a short boat ride away for some top-notch inshore and nearshore fishing. Offshore expeditions for deep sea game fish are also available and they will blow your mind.
  • Corpus Christi and Rockport: The area around Corpus Christi is a series of large, sheltered bays hemmed in by mile after mile of barrier islands. Corpus Christi and Rockport are the centers of the inshore action, with easy access to Redfish, Black Drum, Specks, and Flounder. Head out into the Gulf to hook Red Snapper, Amberjack, Mahi Mahi, and Tuna.
  • San Antonio Bay: This bay isn’t as famous as the previous places we mentioned, but only because its full potential is yet to be discovered. San Antonio Bay is one of the low-key inshore hotspots in Texas, with loads of Redfish, Sharks, Speckled Trout, Flounder, Pompano, Black Drum, Jack Crevalle, and Sheepshead only one cast away.
  • South Padre Island: Hidden away down by the Mexican Border, South Padre Island is best-known for the best fly fishing Texas can offer. Why? Because of the huge Snook which live in the shallows, alongside Redfish, Trout, and other Texas inshore fishing favorites.

Texas Fishing Tournaments

Many fishing boats on the water participating in a fishing tournament at sunset

Texas’s fishing potential is immense, which makes the Lone Star State the epicenter of fishing tournaments. Participating in Bassmasters is a way of life here, and offshore aficionados will have plenty of competition as well.

The Texas State Bass Tournament and Toyota Texas Bass Classic are just a couple of the famous events that anglers from all over the country come to enjoy. There’s a great variety of Bassmasters to try your hand in, no matter your skill level and age.

On the saltwater front, there’s the Texas International Fishing Tournament, one of the most prominent events on the Coastal Bend, along with the Matagorda Bluewater Challenge Offshore Tournament. Billfish chasers will enjoy the Texas Legends Billfish Tournament. So much to do, so little time!

Fishing Rules and 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 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.

A lot of anglers come to Texas to fish the state waters for Red Snapper because, unlike the federal waters, the state fishery is open all year. Just follow your captain’s instructions about catch limits and you’re good to go.

Texas: The Angling Mecca of the South

An aerial view of Austin, TX city skyline

The Texas fishing scene is so prolific that it’s dubbed as one of the best fisheries in the country. The famous Southern hospitality will draw you in, but unforgettable angling action will have you hooked for good.

Discover everything that fishing in Texas has to offer, be it inshore adventures, lake excursions, or offshore jaunts that are as exciting and challenging as they come. You’ll never be the same after it, and you’ll always be back for more!

Have you ever been fishing in Texas? Do you have a favorite spot or a favorite catch? Let’s talk in the comments!

Rather be fishing?

Get great fishing tips, travel inspiration, and fun facts straight to your inbox, once a week, every week.
Invalid email address This email address is already subscribed

Something went wrong!

Unfortunately we can't subscribe you at this moment due to a system error. Please try again later.
Leave a reply
NameRequired *
Your comment Required *