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Fly fishing is an elusive, captivating adventure that allows participants to be up close and personal with nature. Unlike hunting or traditional fishing, there’s nothing to separate man from beast when it comes to fly fishing. Casting a line to float just above the water is an athletic masterpiece that takes finesse, technique, and experience. Although most of the world’s most scenic fly fishing locations are located in mountain streams and rushing rivers far above the Mason-Dixon line, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department has been bringing the gem of fly fishing to Texans everywhere for over 30 years. Rainbow trout are the crown jewel of fly fishing, but Texas waters are too warm to create a natural habitat for breeding and longevity. Each year, the TPWD releases hundreds of thousands of ready-to-catch rainbow trout around the state, so novice and advanced fishermen alike can enjoy one of nature’s most poetic pastimes.
What are the restrictions?
There are hundreds of trout stocking locations around the state, but anglers over 17 years of age will need a valid fishing license with a freshwater fishing endorsement to qualify. If anglers are fishing within a Texas State Park, no license is required. For the most part, there’s a five-trout limit on daily tolls, but certain Hill Country locations such as the Guadalupe River have different restrictions. This year, the TPWD plans to release over 334,000 trout from November 2020 to March 5, 2021, so there’s plenty of opportunity for beginners and experts alike to join in the fun.
Which equipment is best for trout fishing?
Rainbow trout are famously easy to catch and a delicious addition to any meal, but they’re also blessedly low maintenance. Trout prefer light tackles and feed on many types of bait, so the key is to keep it simple, son. The more natural your line, weights, and hooks appear, the better. Trout are sight predators, so they get easily spooked by heavy gear. Experts recommend a light to light-action rod, a small reel designed for light line, the lightest weight possible, and a small bait hook for optimal results (De Jesus, Winter Trout Stocking Program). The usual baits are all winners with rainbow trout, but in the Guadalupe, artificial bait is required. It's no coincidence that the Guadalupe's rainbow trout are also known to be some of the juiciest contestants of the season – the less disturbance to their environment, the better.
Where are the best trout stocking spots in Texas?
Trout are stocked all over the state, but where are the best spots to cast a line? For anglers near the Guadalupe, The Canyon Lake Dam Tailrace is a crowd favorite for fly fishing. Anyone looking for free fishing in a state park should try Garner, Blanco, Tyler, Meridian, Fort Richardson, or Fort Boggy State Park. Each has over 2,000 total stocked, so there truly are plenty of fish in the sea. The Possum Kingdom Tailrace, River Park, and the Comanche Trails Park are also well-stocked spots.
The most important tip for successful Texas trout fly fishing is to go soon. Time is of the essence for these cold-weather beauties, so visit each location as close to a restock day as possible. Fly fishers can check the TPWD’s Trout Stocking Schedule here to check out a full list of restock dates.