Blanco State Park
Pack a picnic, grab a pole — the rainbow trout are biting in the Blanco River.
By Sheryl Smith-Rodgers
It’s almost like a ritual. On the appointed morning in December, Tim Fox always stands patiently on the riverbank in Blanco State Park. With fishing pole in hand and a packed lunch within easy reach, he, his buddies and other eager anglers watch as state hatchery staff stock rainbow trout in the Blanco River.
After the splashing’s done and the trailer pulls away, then everyone quickly chooses a spot and casts their reels.
“I’ve fished all over the state of Texas, and I still haven’t found a better place than Blanco,” says Fox, who works as a tax accountant in Seguin. “I’ve been going there at least 15 years.”
The Hill Country park is one of more than 100 sites across the state that receives an allocation of rainbow trout for winter angling. In December, Texas Parks and Wildlife purchases adult trout from a commercial fish farm in Missouri, then holds them in state hatcheries until they’re distributed. Annually, the department stocks approximately 275,000 fish. Anglers catch most of the trout before water temperatures get too warm in the spring for the fish to survive.
Typically, Blanco State Park receives four stockings of approximately 5,000 fish — two in December, one in January and the last in February. Visitors should check stocking dates online before heading out. Better yet, call the park at 830-833-4333.
“We’ve got some special fishing events in the works, too,” says park superintendent Terry Rodgers. “In November 2005, we hosted a fly-fishing instructors’ class for advanced anglers, which enabled them to teach fly-fishing in their own communities.”
Speaking of fly-fishing, grassy banks along the Blanco River offer plenty of room for the sport. They’re an ideal place, too, for teaching kids how to fish. As for bait, most folks use canned corn; others try their luck with salmon eggs, marshmallows, cheese and garlic cheese.
“I use a different lure every time I go there,” Fox confides. “Fishing for rainbow trout is a finesse. You have to cast, and cast again and again, to trick them into biting. But it’s a lot of fun. You want to be there whenever they stock the river.”
When fishing within a state park, licenses and freshwater fishing stamps are not required. The daily limit of rainbow trout is five with no minimum on length. Park entrance fees are required.
Weather permitting, visitors can also hike the park’s short nature trail, bike on park roads and picnic along the tree-shaded river. Two playgrounds have swings and a slide. Facilities include restrooms, campsites with full hookups, and screened shelters. Wi-Fi (wireless Internet) is also available within the park. Four blocks away, downtown Blanco offers numerous restaurants, shops and the historic Blanco County courthouse, originally built in 1886 and now used as a community center.
For more information about Blanco State Park, call 830-833-4333, or visit <www.tpwd.state.tx.us/blanco>. For winter trout-stocking information, visit <www.tpwd.state.tx.us/troutstocking >.