Texas Travel

A Texas Fishing Guide to Lakes, Rivers, and Coastline

By Peter Simek 7.29.19

Texans love to fish. We have proof: Our state leads the nation in the number of people (roughly 1.6 million!) who buy fishing licenses each year. The $55 million or so in revenue generated by those licenses means that the Texas Parks & Wildlife Department can support habitat conservation, the stocking of fisheries, and infrastructure maintenance — all of which helps to make Texas such a great place to fish.

Texas offers every kind of fishing experience imaginable, from fly-fishing to surf casting, boat fishing for large bass to digging in the weeds for Texas-sized catfish — meaning there’s something for everyone.

So gear up, get licensed, and check out this Texas fishing guide to learn where to drop your line in at these amazing spots on Texas’ lakes, rivers, and coastline.

License to Fish

First things first: In order to fish legally in Texas, you must obtain a license. The fees for the licenses go toward maintaining the state’s fisheries, so it’s money well spent.

There are only a few exceptions: You don’t need a license if you are under age 17 or fishing in privately owned waters (meaning water surrounded by private land, not stretches of river or creeks that run through private property).

In order to lower the barrier of entry to the sport, the Texas Parks & Wildlife Department allows for fishing without a license in state-park waters, including saltwater fishing along the coast.

So let’s get to it.

The Coast

Texas’ 367 miles of coastline offer a ton of great Gulf catch. Here are four of the best spots.

Galveston Bay: Galveston Bay offers some of the best pier fishing in Texas, and on any given day on the coast, dozens of avid fishermen can be found dangling lines over the railings.
Catch: redfish, black drum, trout

Espiritu Santo Bay: This 16-mile-long, 5-mile-wide bay captures much of the water in the Guadalupe Estuary. That fecund habitat offers anglers a chance to haul in as much redfish as they can handle.
Catch: redfish

Bird Island Basin: Located on Padre Island National Seashore, this shallow coastal area offers plenty of fine catch. It’s best to seek them out in the water, either in a kayak or wading through the shallow seagrass flats.
Catch: trout, bull redfish, black drum

Bob Hall Pier: Drop your line off Bob Hall Pier, a popular haunt for Corpus Christi anglers.
Catch: sheepshead, speckled trout, pompano, black drum, redfish, whiting

For a deep dive into Texas’ coastal catch, learn more about the Third Coast’s seafood revolution.

Photo by Ronald Castle

The Lakes

Four of the best spots along Texas’ well-stocked lakes and reservoirs.

Lake Fork: This East Texas reservoir is known as one of the best big-bass fisheries in the world, and top anglers have pulled out record-breaking catches here.
Catch: white and black crappie, sunfish, bluegill, bowfin, alligator gar
Pro tip: Some of the best luck here is had at night, in fall and winter.

Lake Conroe: This heavily stocked lake north of Houston is manageable in size and a great place for beginners.
Catch: catfish, crappie, and bass
Pro tip: Anglers have the best luck with live bait.

Lake Amistad: The huge binational reservoir created by the damming of the Rio Grande offers a variety of fishing experiences based on the season, including pier, fly, offshore, and bottom fishing.
Catch: huge largemouth and smallmouth bass, white bass, striped bass, catfish
Pro tip: Understand what catch you’re going after in which season, as it will vary.

Cedar Creek Reservoir: This Trinity River tributary south of Dallas offers some reliable dock and backwater fishing as well as deep-water finds out in the middle of the lake.
Catch: largemouth bass, blue catfish, channel catfish, flathead catfish, crappie, bluegill, white bass, hybrid striped bass
Pro tip: The best seasons tend to be spring and summer.

Photo by Andrew Fisher

The Rivers

Thousands of miles of river, so little time. Check out these four spots.

Brazos River: The section of the Brazos River running from Possum Kingdom Lake down to the Gulf of Mexico has a reputation for offering some of the best river fishing in Texas. And the fact that it is easily navigable via kayak or canoe makes the river perfect for a camping-fishing journey.
Catch: catfish, drumfish, white bass, carp
Pro tip: The best spots tend to be near bridge crossings, fallen trees and stumps, or large rocks that break the stream.

South Llano River: You can fish up and down the Llano, which is popular for kayak fishermen, fly-fishing, and tossing the hook out from the bank.
Catch: bass, perch, catfish
Pro tip: In South Llano River State Park, the scenery is spectacular.

Guadalupe River: Each winter, the Texas Parks & Wildlife Department releases rainbow trout into the river.
Catch: rainbow trout
Pro tip: Head to the Guadalupe in early spring, after the winter’s release.

Devils River: Running through some of the most remote and beautiful landscape in Texas, the Devils River is crystal clear and as wild as the surrounding desert. That makes for a wonderful experience for anglers looking to soak up the setting while they haul in their catch.
Catch: largemouth and smallmouth bass
Pro tip: Experience with the rod and reel will help you here.

Explore more of Texas’ watering holes with these lake destinations, swimming pool secrets, and map to the great rivers.

© 2019 Texas Farm Bureau Insurance