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Annual Winter Trout Stocking Begins Nov. 30
AUSTIN, Texas — For an inexpensive, entry-level fishing experience the entire family can enjoy, it doesn’t get much easier than winter rainbow trout fishing in Texas.
Beginning Nov. 30 and continuing through March, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department will stock upwards of 264,000 hatchery-reared rainbow trout at about 100 sites across the state. Many of the fish stockings will be conducted at small community fishing lakes, state park lakes and popular river tailraces offering easy angling access.
TPWD has been stocking rainbow trout each winter since the 1970s, providing Texans a simple and economical opportunity to go fishing.
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 spinner baits.
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 freshly caught trout cold on ice or refrigerated.
A list of stocking sites with detailed driving directions is available on the TPWD Web site. The posted stocking dates are the days the trout are available to the general public. Many sites offer special events for youth prior to allowing the public to fish and those are usually the day before. Folks should check with local parks and recreation departments or water authorities for additional information.
While most sites get an annual dose of between 1,000-2,000 trout, popular fishing holes like the Guadalupe River below the Canyon Reservoir Dam, which includes the tailrace, receive multiple stockings from December through March. As the only fishable place in Texas where rainbow trout can survive during the summer months, the Guadalupe River will get about 17,000 fish, which includes about 5,000 trout donated to TPWD by the Comal County Water Oriented Recreation District..
“The water is low and clear right now, so the wade fishing opportunities should be good as long as we don’t get torrential rains,” said Stephan Magnelia, TPWD fisheries biologist in San Marcos. “If we got any over-summer trout survival, it was in the area close to Canyon Dam, so we’re starting with a clean slate in the lower end. The fish ought to be congregated and once you find them you should be able to catch them fairly easily.”
There are several public access points along the Guadalupe River that have been leased by TPWD specifically for trout fishing. Maps and directions to these sites are available on the TPWD Web site.
Anglers should note there are special harvest restrictions in place along the 10-mile stretch of the Guadalupe River below the tailrace. In this area, anglers may retain only one trout per day, which must be at least 18-inches in length, and any trout harvested must be caught on artificial lures. For additional details about the special harvest regulations and the location of that river stretch, please consult the TPWD Outdoor Annual. The special regulations zone does not include the area immediately below Canyon Lake Dam. There, as in other Texas waters, the daily bag limit is five trout and there is no minimum length.
A valid Texas freshwater fishing package is required to fish for trout. Youth ages 16 and younger and all anglers fishing from the bank in state parks are exempt from the fishing package requirement.
Trout make ideal table fare and are easily prepared. They are best eaten fresh within two days of the catch, but can also be frozen. First, remove the entrails by making an incision with a sharp knife along the length of the underside of the fish and thoroughly wash inside and out under running water. Trout do not need to be scaled. Season with salt and pepper, drizzle with olive oil and top with a thin slice or two of lemon. You can also season with your favorite seafood spices. Wrap the prepared fish individually in aluminum foil and bake or grill until done, usually no more than 4-8 minutes at 350 degrees (fish flakes off easily with a fork when properly cooked).
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