Every winter since 1970 Texas Parks and Wildlife has stocked Rainbow Trout in public ponds around the state. Trout stocking this year provides an excellent way to make wintertime memories in an unusual year because fishing and preventing the spread of COVID-19 go hand-in-hand. With hundreds of trout stocking locations in Texas, it’s easy to find a fishing spot near you. Keep six feet between households to prevent fishing lines from becoming tangled and prevent the spread of COVID-19. Hand sanitizer protects your family and friends while cleaning the fishy smell off your hands after you land a trout. So, let’s go catch some Rainbow Trout!
Rainbow Trout remain active during cold months and fishing for them is popular when cold weather makes other fish like catfish, sunfish, and bass hard to find. Rainbow Trout are a cold-water fish and cannot handle Texas’s hot summers so they can only live here when stocked in winter, or in chilly tailraces below dams. This means that while they are not native to the area, their short stay in Texas does not threaten our native gamefish. TPWD stocks trout in small water bodies that are easily accessible to anglers and are stocked early in the cool months to ensure that all fish are caught before the temperatures begin to rise in the Spring. Most of the locations will be stocked only once or twice this winter, but the Neighborhood Fishing Ponds are stocked every two weeks while temperatures allow. Find the Neighborhood Fishing Pond closest to you at www.neighborhoodfishin.org.
Rainbow Trout stocking is made possible by support from local partners who often purchase trout for park ponds and also by fishing license sales. Make sure to take your fishing license with you if you are over 17 years old. Fishing licenses are required at all of the trout-stocked ponds outside of state parks. Plus, buying a license this year helps stock fish next year!
In addition to being a great outdoor activity this winter, a trout fishing trip can result in a tasty meal that anglers can take home! Catch-and–release fishing is a marvelous conservation tool for fish species like Largemouth Bass, but Rainbow Trout stocking in Texas is designed for anglers to keep their catch. Rainbow Trout cannot survive Texas’s hot summers, so we stock in cool winter months with plenty of time for all the fish to be caught by anglers. Trout are stocked at high densities and there is a 5 fish per day limit for each angler, so everyone has a chance of taking home dinner.
Trout can easily be caught on simple rigs. Many anglers report success with a just a small hook and no sinker. In deeper ponds, using a single split shot weight on the fishing line may be needed to move the bait deeper in the water for the fish to find. Traditional baits such as worms and crickets work well, but for the angler that wants to keep their hands clean, canned whole kernel corn and dough baits work well too. Just remember to keep your hook size small! Rainbow Trout have small mouths and are sight predators, hunting for prey items visually, and can be easily scared away from bait if they don’t like the look of it. Therefore, try to keep your tackle to a minimum. Small hooks (size #10 or #12) are best. Many tackle shops carry specialized circle hooks with shortened shanks designed for trout. If you would like more information on how to fish, TPWD has an excellent PDF booklet about fishing at: http://tpwd.texas.gov/education/angler-education/learn-to-fish.
For anglers that want learn to use artificial lures, trout provide a great chance to practice. Trout will hit small surface flies, inline spinners, curly tail or grub jigs, bucktail jigs, swim shad, or small crank baits. Most of the stocked fish will be 8 to 12 inches so err on the small side of lures!
Whether you grew up in colder climes fishing for mountain trout, want to try something new, or want an easy introduction to fishing, Rainbow Trout fishing offers a winter-time opportunity for socially-distanced fun!
To learn more about Rainbow Trout, including additional sites, stocking schedules, and tips on how to fish, check www.tpwd.texas.gov/troutstocking. If you have any questions, call the College Station – Houston District office at 979-272-1430 or let us know by email at [email protected] or [email protected]. Also, check out the latest in TPWD fishing news on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/TPWInlandFisheriesCollegeStationHouston.
Rainbow Trout are stocked in Texas with the expectation that anglers will take a few home to eat! They are a great tasting fish and many good recipes can be found online. If you do not want to keep your fish, you can always throw them back for others to catch.
Most Rainbow Trout you will see this winter are 8-10 inches long, so make sure to take Size 10 or 12 hooks and small lures with you!
Many of the small ponds we will stock are also great places to go for a picnic, take a walk, or look for wildlife. This is Missouri City Community Park Lake, which will be stocked every two weeks while cool temperatures last.
A Fisheries biologists monitors water temperatures and dissolved oxygen at Missouri City Community Park Lake to see when the water will be cool enough for Rainbow Trout.