Urban Fishing in Dallas-Fort Worth

By Larry D. Hodge

Published in Lone Star Outdoor News, June 10, 2005

Texas Parks and Wildlife Department Inland Fisheries biologist Tom Hungerford shakes his head when he sees people heading out of Dallas-Fort Worth to go fishing. “A lot of people who live here think they have to drive a long way to get good fishing, but there’s plenty to be had right here,” he said.

Jeff Hunter knows DFW Metroplex anglers don’t have to drag a boat halfway across the state to find good fishing. Last spring while prefishing for a tournament on Lake Ray Hubbard, Hunter pulled in a largemouth bass that missed becoming a Budweiser ShareLunker by mere ounces. (Fish must weigh a minimum of 13 pounds to be eligible for the ShareLunker program. Hunter released his fish back into the lake after weighing.)

The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department website provides two ways to search for urban fishing spots:

Metroplex Lakes with Boat Access

Benbrook. This 3,770-acre lake 10 miles southwest of downtown Fort Worth offers good fishing for largemouth bass, channel and blue catfish, hybrid striped bass, crappie and white bass. Summer fishing is best for hybrid stripers, white bass and channel cats over humps and ridges in the main lake near the dam. Boat ramps are located in seven Corps of Engineers parks around the lake. “The hybrids are biting really good right now,” Hungerford said last week. “They stack up on the humps in Richardson Slough. Use slab spoons and live shad to catch hybrids up to 8 to 12 pounds.”

Grapevine. This 7,280-acre lake is managed by several entities—the Corps of Engineers, the city of Grapevine and the town of Trophy Club. As a result it has a number of parks and boat ramps. Largemouth and white bass fishing are rated as excellent, with channel catfish and crappie close behind. The lake offers a lot of largemouth bass structure—timber, rocky shorelines, boathouses and dropoffs. “Lake Grapevine has a really good population of spotted bass as well as largemouths, and they are pretty easy to catch,” Hungerford said. “My first time on the lake to fish, in one afternoon my partner and I caught over 50 fish. The lake has lots of good rocky points and shoreline; you can use crankbaits and catch fish all day. It’s neat to catch fish under planes on final approach to DFW.”

Joe Pool. This 7,470-acre lake sits within sight of the Dallas skyline to the northeast. It’s being managed by TPWD for largemouth bass with a 14”-21” slot. Crappie, white bass and channel catfish provide plenty of opportunities for fish fries at Cedar Hill State Park, where there is a 10-lane boat ramp. Altogether public and private parks and marinas offer 27 boat lanes. Joe Pool has lots of flooded structure and timber and several marked brush piles. “Joe Pool is my favorite lake,” Hungerford said. “Hydrilla has recently become established, and bass are all over it. I caught 20 fish in three hours last weekend. Last year we sampled a 10.2-pound bass while electrofishing. I look for Joe Pool to get even better in the future.”

Lewisville. Catfish, crappie and white bass are the leading species on this 29,592-acre lake, but largemouth bass and hybrid striped bass fishing are also good. The Corps of Engineers operates numerous parks with boat ramps.
“There’s not a lot of largemouth bass habitat there, but you can find fish under boat docks,” Hungerford said. “Lewisville has some good spotted bass and hybrid striped bass and some big blue catfish. We’ve sampled blues up to 46 pounds.” Follow the gulls to white bass schooling in the summer.

Ray Hubbard. TPWD rates the largemouth bass fishing on this 22,745-acre lake as only good, but Jeff Hunter might argue with that. Follow his lead and use crankbaits for bass along the riprap. Hybrid striped bass can be found over humps and off points; crappie and white bass hang out over brush piles in the lower end of the lake during the summer. Several city parks and private marinas around the lake provide boat access. “Ray Hubbard is probably the best all-around fishery in the Metroplex,” Hungerford said, “because it has one of the most stable water levels of any Metroplex lake. It has good crappie, and the state record hybrid striped bass came from there. There are lots of blue catfish up to 60 pounds. White bass fishing is really good. It was stocked with Florida largemouth bass in 1991, and we should see more lunkers come out of the lake.”

White Rock. Don’t be misled by the palatial homes and manicured lawns surrounding this northeast Dallas lake. It’s small at 1,120 acres, but it has an excellent population of largemouth bass and white crappie, and it was recently stocked with 10,551 9-inch catfish. Target largemouths around reeds and mouths of creeks. Crappie fishing is hottest in White Rock Creek. Dallas provides two boat ramps. Outboards can be no larger than 10.5 horsepower, but trolling motors can be used. “The lake doesn’t get much boating pressure because of the size limit on outboards,” Hungerford pointed out. “However, you can use your trolling motor to work the vegetation along the shoreline. Crappie fishing has really come on lately. White Rock has the highest catch rate for crappie of any lake in the Metroplex.”

Trinity River Fishing

Don’t overlook the Trinity and its tributaries, especially if you want to get away from boaters on the lakes. Hungerford recommends Denton Creek on Lake Grapevine’s upper end, where the white bass run in spring is spectacular. “Henrietta Hole, where Henrietta Creek hits Denton Creek, is the hotspot,” Hungerford said. “The rest of the year it’s good for catfish and sunfish. You can find boat ramps in Marshall Creek Park and on the Elm Fork of the Trinity below Lewisville Dam, in Carrollton off Sandy Lake Road just west of Interstate 35 East.”

Lake Lewisville has been stocked with hybrid stripers and blue catfish, and Hungerford said the big ones hang out in the Elm Fork in the tailrace below the dam. For more information on angling opportunities in the Metroplex, contact Hungerford at (817) 732-0761 or Thomas.Hungerford@tpwd.texas.gov.

Neighborhood Fishing in Texas

Urban fishing is due to improve over the next few years as TPWD ramps up its urban fishing program in small lakes, most of which do not have boat access. “We have had a community fishing lake program for many years, but we are interested in expanding it in major metropolitan areas,” said Bob Betsill, a research biologist at TPWD’s Heart of the Hills Fisheries Science Center near Kerrville. “The goal is to provide year-around, family-oriented fishing opportunities in each of the 25 metropolitan statistical areas in Texas. We now have eight small lakes in the program and are currently evaluating additional ones.” See list and stocking schedule

The outstanding feature of the program is frequent, repeated stocking of fish throughout the year. “We will be partnering with cities to set up programs to stock rainbow trout in winter and 12-inch channel catfish the rest of the year,” Betsill said. “We’ll stock fish every other week for about 10 months out of the year. Research shows that most people who fish in urban fishing lakes live within two miles of the lakes. The key to success of the program will be involving local parks and recreation departments, civic organizations, fishing clubs and individuals in mentoring kids.”

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