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Fishing for New Lake Records at Pat Cleburne Lake

Media Contact: Michael Baird, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department fisheries biologist, (254) 666-5190 icle__media__contact">Media Contact: Michael Baird, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department fisheries biologist, (254) 666-5190 or

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ATHENS—While drought and reports of low lake levels have kept many anglers at home instead of on the water, recent rains have refilled many lakes, and the fishing is fine. Pat Cleburne Lake near the town of the same name is a case in point.

Many Pat Cleburne anglers, especially catfish anglers, claim the lake to be their favorite “honey hole” due to the lake’s relatively low visitation. These claims are easy to justify based on water body records. Rod and reel records for the lake include 11.0-pound largemouth bass, 1.3-pound white bass, and 1.0-pound white crappie. Jug line records boast a 30.1-pound blue catfish and 52.0-pound flathead catfish, while the bowfishing record for common carp is 7.0 pounds.

Anyone can enjoy fishing Pat Cleburne and have a great opportunity to seek out new record fish, since existing records are limited. For example, there are no rod and reel records for channel, blue and flathead catfish, black crappie or spotted bass. Additionally, there are no records for freshwater drum, smallmouth buffalo, river carpsucker, common and grass carp, spotted and longnose gar, bullhead catfishes or panfishes. This means there are plenty of new water body record fish swimming freely around the lake! Other record categories, such as fly-fishing and junior angler, are also wide open for Pat Cleburne anglers.

Pat Cleburne is a 1,558-acre reservoir supplied by the Nolan River. Although maximum depth is nearly 40 feet just out from the dam, the upper end consists of mostly shallow water.  Fish habitat consists of rocky shoreline near the dam, small timber laydowns, private docks, overhanging brush, and emergent shoreline vegetation in the form of water willow, bulrush, and cattail. Like most central Texas lakes, Pat Cleburne suffered from extreme low water levels in 2011; however, the lake is currently full again.

Information about all Texas Parks and Wildlife Department fish record categories, including how to apply for each, can be found at  The link also contains a list of certified scale locations throughout the state, photo galleries of junior and adult anglers with their catches, and a mobile record search which can be set to the home screen of certain smartphones and used like an app, allowing anglers to look up current records for any given water body in the state.

So the next time you’re wondering where to fish, consider Pat Cleburne Lake, and keep the current water body records in mind. If you think you have a record fish, please contact the Inland Fisheries Management office in Waco at (254) 666-5190, Academy Sports of Waco at (254) 399-2410, or consult the above-mentioned link to find a certified scale near you. Don’t forget to take pictures of your catch; you might just be the next record holder!

And who was Pat Cleburne? According to the Handbook of Texas, he was a major general in the Confederate Army who was killed in the Battle of Franklin, Tennessee, in November 1864.