Texas has the southernmost trout fishery in the United States, and anglers are ready for a good winter of fishing.
Throw your rod and reel in the car and take the short drive to your local fishing hole, because it’s time once again for the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department’s annual winter rainbow trout stocking.
TPWD’s popular rainbow trout stocking program kicks off Tuesday, Nov. 25, and continues through March with the first deliveries of fish to lakes in the department’s Neighborhood Fishin’ program.
Since the ‘70s, the department has been stocking rainbow trout each winter in small urban lakes, state park lakes and popular river tailraces, providing Texans a simple and economical opportunity to go fishing.
During the next few months TPWD will be stocking upwards of 286,000, 9 to 12-inch hatchery-reared rainbow trout in 142 neighborhood and state park locations across Texas. Locations such as Brackenridge Park in San Antonio, Bullfrog Pond in Austin, Bob Sandlin State Park in Mt. Pleasant and Arena Park Pond in Marshall are some of the locations used by the program in years past. This year, the program is adding Grover-Nelson Pond in Abilene as a new Neighborhood Fishin’ lake.
Anglers who frequent the popular Guadalupe River trout fishery near New Braunfels are reminded of new regulations this year in the special trout zone 800 yards downstream from the Canyon Dam release to the east bridge on Hwy 306. For rainbow and brown trout, the length limit in this zone is a 12-18 inch slot. Trout 12 inches and less or 18 inches or greater in length may be retained. The daily bag remains five trout and only one trout 18 inches or longer may be retained. From the easternmost bridge on FM 306 downstream to the second bridge crossing on River Road, there is an 18-inch minimum size limit, and a one trout daily bag. Harvest of trout in these special zones is by artificial lures only.
“Rainbow trout are great fish to catch for the fishing experience, and they can be caught on many types of gear,” said Carl Kittel, A.E. Wood Fish Hatchery program director. “For those that like to eat fish, the rainbow trout is also an excellent fish to eat.”
Catching these hungry fish can be easy, making the experience ideal for both novice anglers and kids. The fish will bite almost immediately after stocking and typically will take a variety of baits, from whole kernel canned corn or commercial soft bait to artificial flies and even small spinnerbaits.
Fishing gear can be as basic as an inexpensive spincast rod and reel combo, a small plastic bobber, a fishing weight and a hook. It’s also a good idea to carry along a pair of needle-nosed pliers to help remove hooks, and a five gallon bucket, small ice chest or a fish stringer to keep your catch. Be sure to keep fresh trout cold on ice or refrigerated.
All anglers 17 years of age and older must have a valid freshwater fishing license as well as a freshwater stamp.
For more information about the winter trout fishing program, including tips and the 2014-2015 trout stocking schedule listed by city or county, visit: http://www.tpwd.texas.gov/troutstocking