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Texas freshwater fishing

Fishing's great in Texas, and here's why.

The last four decades of the 20th century were an exciting time to be a fisheries biologist in Texas. Sweeping societal, environmental and technological changes presented fisheries managers with challenges that, unmet, might have destroyed sportfishing in Texas.

Fortunately, revolutionary times not only spark change; they also forge leaders. Texas fisheries managers rose to the occasion; and Texas anglers today enjoy some of the best freshwater fishing in the nation. This is the story of the visionary, dedicated and courageous people who made that happen. read more


From our pages: Freshwater fishing articles

High on Hybrids

Biologists battle golden alga and drought to produce hybrid striped bass.

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Fishy Friends

Passion for bass inspires efforts to improve lakes.

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On Golden Pond

Transform your private fishing hole into angling heaven by avoiding these common pitfalls.

To an outsider, I’m sure it looked like just a pond.

There was nothing visually extraordinary about it. In fact, it appeared unremarkably similar to the thousands of private ponds that dot the rural and suburban Texas landscape. But my grandmother’s livestock pond, a stone’s throw away from my boyhood home in the black clay prairie of Central Texas, was so much more to me.

If I’d known then what I know now, that pond could have received proper management and offered even greater rewards. Fortunately for pond and lake owners, a plethora of resources is now available. Maximizing those good memories for your family and friends primarily requires exercising good management.

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Sunny With a Chance of Fun

Sunfish provide more enjoyment per pound than any other Texas fish.

Whether it’s the best kind of fish, the best place to fish or the best bait to use, it’s hard to get anglers to agree on anything.

But ask them what kind of fish is best for getting kids hooked on fishing, and the answer will almost certainly be the same: sunfish.

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Shoot That Fish

Bow fishing draws on primitive methods to turn angler into archer.

Have you ever stood atop a flat-bottom boat and pondered your chances of hitting fish with a bow and arrow? There’s something primitive and ancient inside all of us that sparks thoughts of our ancestors’ methods of hunting and fishing. We wonder if we could have survived with only sticks and stones and our wits as the tools to feed ourselves. Why not take a bow and arrow and try your luck at catching an enormous alligator gar?

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Catching Spring Crappie

Location and timing are the keys to getting this favorite to bite in February.

Springtime crappie fishing is a longstanding tradition in the Lone Star State. Anglers begin venturing out at most fisheries in February and March, and at local fuel stations, buckets of minnows edge out breakfast burritos as top sellers.

There are numerous reasons why folks enjoy fishing for crappie at this time of year. First, panfish are actively feeding and willing to inhale a minnow or jig offering. Second, crappies crowd prime spawning areas, making them easy to find and exploit. Finally, post-spawn males and females remain fairly aggressive, extending the great fishing action for a few more weeks. All of these add up to a lot of fun and good eating.

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Prince of Bass: Whites on the Sabine River

When the redbuds bloom, the white bass run.

There are two sure signs of spring in Central and East Texas: redbud trees in bloom and rows of vehicles parked where highways span creeks and rivers.

“When the redbuds bloom, the white bass run,” says Mike Ryan of Marshall, a retired Texas Parks and Wildlife Department fisheries biologist. That largely invisible spawning migration draws anglers to flowing water to fish for — make that catch — the hard-fighting, tasty fish. If you see cars and pickup trucks clustered around a highway bridge in early spring, break out a fishing rod and join in the fun: The white bass are running.

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Crappie Days are Here Again

Anglers sing the praises of a fish that is fun to catch and even more fun to eat.

My wife’s daughter, Kalmia, is a city girl. She grew up in Dallas, attends college in New York City and generally regards any urban area with a population of less than 500,000 as the boonies. So I thought it was a stretch to invite her crappie fishing last January on Lake Fork.

Her response surprised me.

“Yes! I LOVE CRAPPIE!” her e-mail shouted.

I love getting all-capped by a young person excited about fishing.

Kalmia is not alone. Crappie are the quail of the fish world. Like quail, they tend to hang out near cover. And like quail, predatory city girls love to eat them. (So do another predator, big bass. The current state record largemouth bass was caught by an angler fishing for crappie in January on Lake Fork. Winter entries in the Budweiser ShareLunker program are often caught by anglers targeting crappie.)

Catching crappie — and if you follow the tips in this article it will be catching, not fishing — is just plain fun. Even seasoned crappie fanatics like Cedar Creek Lake guide Ernest Paty and nationally known crappie angler Wally (“Mr. Crappie”) Marshall told me, “I live for the thump.” read more

Tripping the Trinity

The most beautiful stretch of this hard-working waterway is where you’d least expect it.

As the kayakers paddle lazily by the lush green island in the middle of the Trinity River, four wild turkeys in succession blast off and fly right over their heads, flapping mightily, heading for the dense forest on the other side. The kayakers stop paddling, stunned, and drift a bit before one looks at the other and says, in awe-struck tones, “Did you see that?”

Even more amazing that this happened at all is where it happened — on the edge of the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex, not far north of DFW Airport and the urban sprawl gobbling up a large amount of North Texas, along a stretch of river little known even to most DFW residents, just below Lewisville Lake Dam.

Zoe Ann Stinchcomb and I are here to float and fish this almost-secret stretch of the Trinity with Texas Parks and Wildlife Department fisheries biologists Tom Hungerford and Rafe Brock. Flowing as it does through the two most populated areas of Texas — Dallas-Fort Worth and Houston — the Trinity is perhaps the most used and abused river in the state. For much of its length, urban runoff and sewage effluent form the bulk of its flow. Yet where it issues from Lewisville Lake, the Elm Fork of the Trinity is clear, clean and inviting. read more

Stocking Up

Hatchery-raised fish keep rods bowed all over Texas.

Around April 15 every year, dozens of Texas Parks and Wildlife Department Inland Fisheries biologists and technicians gather beside the Trinity River at the foot of Lake Livingston Dam to do a little fishing.

Actually, they do a lot of fishing — electrofishing for striped bass to be used for spawning fry for stocking into reservoirs across Texas.

At the hatcheries, biologists and technicians work around the clock until all the fish are spawned. The fry are raised to fingerling size — about 1.5 inches long — in hatchery ponds before being stocked into lakes across the state. In 2005 TPWD stocked about 7.2 million striped bass and hybrid striped bass. read more

The World According to Carp

The state's love/hate relationship with this not-so-gentle giant stretches back to 1881 when the first hatchery was created in Austin.

Someone once told me that the best way to cook common carp (Cyprinus carpio L.) is by a technique known as planking. This works best with carp in the 2- to 10-pound range. The carp is attached to a plank, basted with olive oil and cooked over a slow-burning fire for about 50 minutes. After applying the seasoning of your choice, throw away the carp and eat the plank. Carp cuisine may have a long way to go, but there are a growing number of people who believe carp fishing is poised to hit the big time. All it needs is a good public relations manager to revamp its image.

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More stories:

Old School Catfishing

Pole Fishing

Reservoir Rovers


View Texas freshwater fish species

 

White Bass Run