Thanks to its expansive size, dozens of freshwater lakes and shoreline along the Gulf of Mexico, Texas has more than 70 state parks that provide fishing opportunities. The state's family-friendly fishing policy waives the normal license or stamp requirements for adults and children fishing within a park's boundaries, although bag and length limits apply. Many parks loan out free rods, reels and tackle for up to seven days.
The main draw at Purtis Creek State Park in Eustace is the plentiful largemouth bass in the park's 355-acre lake, earning it the name of “Best Little Bass Fishing Lake in Texas." Fishing for catfish, crappie and sunfish typically is rated as good. Anglers don't have to worry about boat wakes or overfishing because the lake has a no-wake restriction and is limited to 50 boats at a time. The park has rental canoes, kayaks and paddleboats, and fishing is available from two lighted piers. Lake Livingston State Park, an hour northeast of Houston, features an abundance of large catfish and white bass on the 90,000-acre reservoir. Other available species include crappie, sunfish, striped/hybrid bass and largemouth bass. The park has three boat ramps and a fishing pier, with several marinas nearby.
Set on Lake Texoma, an 89,000-acre reservoir formed from the Red River near the Oklahoma border, Eisenhower State Park is relatively small at only 423 acres. But the park offers some big fishing action for several species of bass as well as catfish. The state-record blue catfish, a 121.5-pounder, was caught at the lake in 2004. The park has a lit fishing pier and a privately owned marina where anglers may rent pontoon boats. Lake Ray Roberts State Park has several units along the 25,600-acre reservoir formed from the Trinity River. The lake has excellent year-round fishing for largemouth bass, white bass and crappie as well as strong populations of catfish and sunfish. Two hot spots are the Isle du Bois unit's fishing pier and along the shoreline of the Johnson Branch unit.
Lake Arrowhead State Park near Wichita Falls is known for its white crappie fishing, which heats up during the spring and fall off the state park's two fishing piers and floating docks. The lake also provides good-to-excellent hauls of white and largemouth bass, and large blue and flathead catfish of 40 or more pounds are not uncommon. At Lake Brownwood State Park, an hour southeast of Abilene, a wide variety of species are available in the 6,490-acre lake, which has many small coves, bays and creeks. Fishing for white bass, largemouth bass and catfish typically is good to excellent. Summer and early fall usually are the best times for white bass, and largemouth bass are most productive from September to May. Crappie, freshwater drum and sunfish also are available.
Although the Corpus Christi area is known more for its nearby beaches, Lake Corpus Christi in the Neuces River watershed provides excellent year-round fishing for channel, blue and flathead catfish. Largemouth bass are most prevalent in spring, fall and winter, and white bass are abundant in the river channel in winter and in the main reservoir during summer. The park's lighted fishing pier is a hot spot for crappie. Mustang Island State Park in Port Aransas, with 5 miles of shoreline along the Gulf of Mexico and Corpus Christi Bay, provides numerous saltwater angling opportunities. Take a canoe or kayak along the park's paddling trail, which winds through some of the state's top shallow-water fishing spots. Cast a line from the Fish Pass jetties or directly in the surf for species such as redfish, drum, flounder, mackerel, jack, pompano and speckled trout.