The annual Texas winter tradition of rainbow trout stocking returns to waterbodies across the state to kick off the holiday season. The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) will stock thousands of rainbow trout beginning the week of Thanksgiving to give anglers a chance to catch one of these iconic fish.
It doesn’t take a lot of sophisticated fishing equipment to reel in a rainbow trout. They can be caught using simple, light tackle or hand-tied flies on a fly rod. However, anglers should keep an array of baits and lures nearby as well as ice to keep trout fresh. Rainbow trout are an attractive, tasty fish and anglers can easily find recipes online.
TPWD plans to stock 343,331 rainbow trout in Texas from Nov. 22 through March 1. Because rainbow trout are unable to survive in most areas of Texas after winter, due to the warm water temperatures, anglers are encouraged to keep up to their daily bag limit of five trout. Exceptions exist within special trout management zones on the Guadalupe River downstream of Canyon Lake, which often remains cool enough for rainbow trout to survive year-round. This portion of the Guadalupe River is recognized as one of the top 100 trout streams in the nation and is considered the southernmost trout stream in North America.
Fishing for rainbow trout on Texas rivers and streams is popular among anglers. In addition to stocking the Guadalupe River downstream of Canyon Lake, TPWD also stocks rainbow trout in the Brazos River downstream of Possum Kingdom Lake, portions of the Frio and South Llano rivers, and in the Clear Fork of the Trinity River.
Although trout stockings take place at numerous locations in Texas, TPWD’s Neighborhood Fishin’ program provides a unique experience for families and new anglers to reel in a fish in and around major cities. TPWD manages 18 Neighborhood Fishin’ lakes statewide in most major urban centers, including Amarillo, Austin, the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex, Houston, San Angelo, San Antonio and Wichita Falls. These lakes — frequently stocked with rainbow trout during winter — offer plenty of amenities so family members of all ages can enjoy a fun and relaxing day fishing and connecting in nature. Other stocking locations include dozens of local city and county park ponds.
In addition, anglers can enjoy complementary fishing without a license in a Texas State Park from a bank, dock or pier. TPWD recommends anyone planning a trip to a park reserve a day pass in advance. Day passes can be reserved online though the TPWD website or over the phone by calling (512) 389-8900.
“TPWD stocks catchable-sized fish during winter months to create unique winter angling opportunities throughout Texas,” said Carl Kittel, TPWD Rainbow Trout Program Director. “Rainbow trout love cold water and can be caught on a variety of baits and lures (worms, commercially available pastes, corn, spinners, spoons, flies and more), and are great to take home and eat. Our winter rainbow trout program has been a favorite of anglers for over forty years.”
Texas does not require a fishing license for youth under the age of 17, but adults must have a fishing license with a freshwater fishing endorsement. Funds from the sale of fishing licenses and freshwater fishing endorsements directly support efforts by TPWD to provide great fishing opportunities for current and future generations.
An angler fishing in a Community Fishing Lake or from a dock, pier or jetty within a Texas State Park may use no more than two poles. The statewide bag limit is five trout with no minimum length limit, except on parts of the Guadalupe River where special limits are in effect.
The dates and locations are subject to change due to inclement weather or other unforeseen circumstances. Be sure to check the 2023-24 Trout Stocking Schedule online before you go fishing to confirm the stocking date, check fishing regulations and to find other winter trout stocking program angling tips.