Texas is a state that is larger than life. In this state, it’s go big or go home in all aspects. Fishing is no exception to this rule, because here you’ll find fly fishing opportunities that are nothing short of spectacular. Texas is a state where freshwater and saltwater fly fishing exist, which means lots of variety for anglers. While fly fishing may not have been the most popular method among anglers, it is now really starting to catch on and become very popular.
In Texas, you have the ability to fish on rivers, bays, lakes, and even the saltwater flats for a real unique experience. The state offers over 80,000 miles’ worth of water to explore. In the lakes category alone, there are 100 that are popular with anglers.
So there’s just one question to ask yourself – what are you waiting for? If you’re ready to book that trip to Texas to enjoy fly fishing at its finest, then you’ll want to take notes with this guide.
When you’re dealing with a state as massive and diverse as Texas, it can be hard to decide where to start. There are just so many great rivers, lakes, streams, creeks, and bays to choose from. Of course, that’s not even including the saltwater shoreline of the state. Really, this is the kind of place you’ll need to visit a number of times in order to truly get an appreciation of what it offers for fly fishing.
So let’s take a look at just a few of the most popular rivers for anglers. Keep in mind these are just rivers.
Here's a river that really shouldn't be missed. Conveniently located near the city of Sattler, this one is open for fishing from late November until May. It has the opposite season as many rivers in the country. Instead, consider this one as a fabulous winter destination. The Guadalupe River also holds a pretty cool title, and that's the fact that this trout fishery is the southernmost in the entire country. This explains why the season is during the winter and early spring.
While you fish for trout, you'll be able to take in some rather beautiful scenery. The river itself is a lovely deep blue, there are cypress trees lining the banks, and the river shifts and changes in depth. Many people compare the setting to that of what you would find in a tropical rainforest. It makes for a rather unique experience. This river contains rainbow trout and is best fished by floating. If you like, you can also wade in it.
This is another popular river among anglers. You won’t be able to float along this one as there are dams that impede you from traveling far. Instead, you can fish from shore, or wade in some spots. The fish you’ll find in this river are panfish, sunfish, and both smallmouth and largemouth bass. The river is open year-round for fishing, but keep in mind summer is quite busy here. Most anglers prefer the quiet of fall and winter.
Located in the middle of Texas is the Llano River. Here's another gem for anglers of all skill levels. Along the banks of this river are gorgeous cliffs, massive rocks, trees, brush, and sand. The river is usually quite clear, which of course makes anglers pleased. The typical fish found here are bass and sunfish. Keep in mind you won't be able to access some areas of the river. It's also divided into a north and south portion. Both are equally challenging, scenic, and rich in fish.
Located in Hamilton County's west-end is the Lampasas River. You will find that the banks along this river are quite thick with vegetation, and the surrounding area is rolling and filled with hills. This river makes for a great place for fly fishing. Most times of the year the water level is quite low, the river is narrow in most spots, and you will find that many areas have low-hanging tree branches. Keeping these factors in mind is important when choosing which fly rod to use.
This particular river is found in northern Texas and is filled with sunfish, perch, and smallmouth bass. It has many interesting natural features about it as some areas run rough and fast, there are deep pools in other areas, and then in some spots, it’s shallow and slow moving. Again, you can fish year-round on this river.
Texas is one of those magical states where you can fish year-round, and have fabulous conditions each time. The one downfall is that summer in Texas, especially in the southern regions, gets extremely hot. It can be rather uncomfortable to be out there fishing in the heat of the day. Additionally, many of the rivers are crowded with canoes, kayaks, boats, and more. If fly fishing is more of a quiet hobby for you, stick to winter where it’s nowhere near as crowded and busy. You may also want to wait until the mercury drops a bit. As the temperatures cool down, sometimes the fishing tends to get better too.
Fishing for trout specifically means it's important to "match the hatch". Here's a look at the typical hatch chart as you would find on the Guadalupe River. This can be used as a basis for other trout waters in the state.
The blue winged olive can be found in January through May, and then starts up again in December. The hexagenia is present from March until the end of October. The Trico is around from late January until mid-November. The slate drake and caddis have almost the same season, starting up in March then ending in October for the slate drake, and December for the caddis. The sucker spawn has a short season from mid-January until the end of April. Terrestrials are May through to the start of December. Finally, there are the midges, which hatch all year.
For Texas you are dealing with some pretty diverse landscape and water conditions. When you are fishing in a river such as the Lampasas River, then you’ve got some areas that are quite narrow. There’s also the fact there are low-hanging tree branches. Showing up with that 10-foot fly rod is just not going to be ideal. This is why some planning is necessary. It will allow you to pick the best fly rod and reel for the location, and fish species.
Generally speaking, in Texas you can use anything from a seven foot to a 10-foot fly rod. The weight will need to balance with the rod you choose.
Flies are another tricky part. You aren't just dealing with one type of fish in Texas; instead, there is a massive variety. Sure, you can try to match to the hatch, but it goes a lot deeper than that in Texas. It may be that imitation cicadas, crickets, and grasshoppers end up being your best bet. A good idea if you're feeling unsure is to visit a local fly fishing shop and ask for advice. Not only will they be able to give you tips, but you’ll also be able to buy the flies you need right there.
There are a number of different ways to fish in Texas. In some areas, the shore is the only option, whereas others allow you to wade, float, or even boat. There is a large variety for you to choose from, allowing you to pick your favorite style. A good rule of thumb is to always pack a pair of high-quality chest waders in your bag so you’re set to go if the opportunity presents itself.
In the state of Texas, anyone who is 17 years of age and older needs a valid fishing license. It doesn't matter if you plan to do saltwater or freshwater fishing, a fishing license is required. There is one exception to this rule. If you are doing your fishing in a state park from the bank, no license is required. There are resident and non-resident licenses available. You can purchase a one year or one-day license. As a side note, if you plan on doing any hunting, there are combination licenses available. Your fishing license can be obtained from Texas Parks and Wildlife. You can also find information regarding limits and regulations through the department.
Anglers will have no problem with the mantra “go big or go home” in the state of Texas. Everything truly does seem bigger and grander here. You’ve got a massive selection of freshwater and saltwater fishing locations to choose from, there are challenges for all skill levels, and there’s the fact that you can fish year-round in this beautiful state. In fact, winter is sometimes the very best time to go fishing here. You won’t be fighting with the summer vacation crowds, the water will be easier to navigate, and the fish will be that much easier to spot.