Years ago Texans had to drive to New Mexico or Colorado to catch a rainbow trout. But that was then. These days, anglers can enjoy trout fishing right here in the Lone Star State.
The Texas Parks & Wildlife Department will be stocking hundreds of thousands of hatchery-reared rainbow trout at sites across the state running through early March. Many of the stockings will be conducted at small community fishing lakes, state park lakes and popular river tailraces that offer easy angling access.
TPWD has been stocking rainbow trout each winter since the 1970s, offering Texans a convenient and inexpensive opportunity to go fishing.
Fishing for these hungry trout is fairly simple, making it an ideal experience for children and novice anglers. Most sites get an annual dose of more than 1,000 trout, and the fish begin to bite almost immediately after stocking.
Anglers can find stocking locations, stocking dates, driving directions to sites and the most up to date stocking information on the TPWD’s complete Rainbow Trout Stocking Schedule. Many locations host special events for youth in addition to allowing the public fishing opportunities. Check with local parks and recreation departments or water authorities for additional information.
Rainbow trout thrive in cold water and can be caught on a variety of natural and artificial baits. Top baits include commercial soft bait, cheese, marshmallows, whole kernel canned corn and small spinner baits. Fly fishermen have a lot of luck with hand-tied flies. Baits can be fished off the bottom or suspended under a bobber.
Fishing gear can be as basic as an inexpensive spincast rod and reel combo, a small plastic bobber or a fishing weight and a hook. Bringing a pair of needle-nosed pliers to help remove hooks is advisable. Other gear to consider includes a 5-gallon bucket, small ice chest or a fish stringer to store catches. Freshly-caught trout should be kept on ice to keep them fresh.
Among the winter trout stocking sites are Neighborhood Fishin’ locations in urban areas across the state. Spots such as small neighborhood lakes get trout-stocked every two weeks during the winter. Catfish are also stocked there during the summer, making them year-round family fishing destinations. Details can be found on the Neighborhood Fishin’ Web page, which lists the urban area, lake or pond, driving directions and TPWD information for each site.
Other popular fishing spots like the Guadalupe River below the Canyon Reservoir Dam, which includes the tailrace, also receive multiple stockings.
Anglers should note there are special harvest restrictions in place along that stretch of the Guadalupe River below the tailrace. In this area, anglers may keep only five trout per day, which must be between 12 inches and 18 inches in length, though one fish longer than 18 may be kept. Any trout harvested must be caught on artificial lures.
A valid Texas freshwater fishing license package is required to fish for trout. Youth ages 16 and younger and all anglers fishing within state parks are exempt from the fishing license requirement.
For additional details about the special harvest regulations and the location of that river stretch, consult the TPWD Outdoor Annual.