Maybe the biggest obstacle for some families to fishing in Texas is finding a place to go. Difficult but not impossible.
One great option is hiring a guide to fish for catfish, crappie or white bass. A good guide will know the lake and should know how to work with children. For some families, however, that isn’t an option because of cost.
Another option that is cost affordable for families is state parks. Parks are typically known for camping, hiking and swimming, but at some of the parks fishing park lakes, piers over neighboring reservoirs or even Gulf waters is a major draw.
From Tyler State Park to Fort Richardson State Park in Jacksboro to Garner State Park near Leakey and South Llano State Park near Junction, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department stocks about 15 lakes and historic sites with rainbow trout annually each winter.
But during the remainder of the year parks offer a gateway to fishing for everything from sunfish to bass to redfish, in many cases providing instruction and some loaner tackle.
Tyler State Park is an excellent example with a great bass fishery, good fishing for sunfish and catfish, although catfish numbers are not high.
The same can be said about a number of other East Texas state park lakes such as Purtis Creek which is excellent for bass and catfish, but also has a good crappie fishery. Daingerfield, with an 80-acre lake offers a similar fishery to Tyler State Park.
Bob Sandlin, Cooper Lake, Martin Creek, Eisenhower and Tawakoni state parks are a little different in that they sit alongside major reservoirs. While most do have some interior ponds that offer fishing, they all offer access to the main lake in the form of a fishing pier or bank access. In the case of Sandlin crappie fishing off the pier can especially be good.
Here is a look around the state at some of the other options, ranging from parks along big lakes, to parks with river access and even on the Gulf of Mexico.
Martin Dies Jr., State Park’s three units rest against B.A. Steinhagen Reservoir and offer fishing from a pier at the lake or in the sloughs that run through them. Crappie fishing around the base of the cypress trees can be excellent in the spring on light jigs, but as the camping season turns warmer the catfish fishing takes over.
At Lake Livingston State Park fishermen can catch crappie, white bass and channel cats at certain times of the year from the bank or a fishing pier. Crappie is best in spring and fall, while white bass are most active from late winter through fall and catfish bite year-around.
In the Hill Country Inks Lake State Park is a great location for bank fishing for bass using cast-and-real crankbaits. In the spring hybrid-stripers, striped bass and white bass can be good in coves. During the summer months piers provide good access to sunfish using worms. The park is one with a tackle loaner program and each Friday offers a Fishing with a Ranger program for newcomers.
Even some South Texas parks offer good access to lakes either through bank fishing or as a gateway to the lake itself. Lake Corpus Christi has added a fishing pier and cleaning station that is excellent for crappie and catfish fishing.
Lake Casa Blanca State Park provides access to a small lake that doesn’t get much pressure, but does have big bass and catfish.
Of course at Falcon State Park and Choke Canyon State Park ramps within the park provide the best boating access to adjacent lakes.
Hill Country state parks with river fishing options include Guadalupe River, South Llano River parks and Lyndon B. Johnson State Park and Historical Site.
Guadalupe SP has good fishing for sunfish, catfish and both Guadalupe and largemouth bass. Park officials say since the river’s cool waters are a good place to be on a hot Texas afternoon fishing in the morning when it is too cold to swim is a good idea. Those wanting to fish during the high traffic hours should try upstream or downstream of the other activities.
South Llano is built around good fishing and is especially popular with fly fishermen and those fishing from kayaks. The river offers excellent fisheries for bass, sunfish and catfish.
Within the park is Bucks Lake that provides bank fishing and a floating dock to fish from.
LBJ sits along the Pedernales River and fishing is such a big activity that the first Saturday in June each year the park holds an annual fishing day. This time of year anglers target the normal Texas river fish, bass, catfish and sunfish, but in the winter stocked rainbow trout bring out the fishermen.
Blanco State Park is another option especially during the winter when it has been stocked with rainbow trout.
All the parks along the Gulf provide fishing access. One in particular along the upper coast is Sea Rim State Park with five miles of shoreline. Anglers there can get away with a spinning rod and live bait such as shrimp to catch whiting, black drum and redfish. If the water is clear they can switch to artificial lures for speckled trout.
Fishermen can also go with heavier gear and cut bait to target bull reds, or take out kayaks a short distance to fish even deeper waters.
Inshore marshes provide access to both fresh and saltwater species and are especially good for kayaking.
For an even more leisurely pace that kids like there is crabbing using a piece of string 10 to 15 feet long with a chicken neck tied to the end as bait.
The park does not offer loaner gear but does give free shore fishing clinics the second Saturday of each month from March – October and a crabbing class the fourth Saturday of the month.
A lower coast option is Goose Island State Park that features a 1,600-foot fish pier that is excellent for fishing for redfish, black drum, speckled trout and more with live bait.
The good thing about state parks is that the public can go to fish them for the day, spend the night, a weekend or week. For more information on parks around Texas, go online to https://tpwd.texas.gov/state-parks/.