Texas is a regular paradise for bass anglers. Largemouth, smallmouth, striped, spotted…no matter what you’re after, Texas has it all!
The state’s many lakes and rivers offer some of the country’s best large and smallmouth bass fishing, and sooner or later, you’re practically guaranteed to catch a trophy bass.
The bass populations here are abundant and healthy, and many of them produce plenty of giants.
This informative guide includes some of Texas’ finest largemouth, smallmouth, and striped bass destinations and will give you information on the best times of year to target these species.
Additionally, you’ll get helpful information and tips on fishing reports, bag limits, licenses, and spawning periods for Texas bass.
So if you’re planning a future bass adventure down in Texas, you should definitely keep reading!
Where Is the Best Bass Fishing in Texas?
Texas has too many excellent bass waters to list them all, so I had to narrow it down to some of the state’s absolute best bass lakes!
The following destinations offer exceptional bass fishing opportunities and the chance to catch colossal trophy fish!
Let’s dive right in, shall we:
Lake Fork is undoubtedly one of Texas’ very best largemouth lakes and doesn’t really need an introduction.
Its largemouth bass population is vast and produces really big specimens, which is why it is so popular among both local and out-of-state anglers.
The lake is located on highly fertile ground and holds plenty of forage, making it a regular bass paradise.
Additionally, it is being stocked with Florida strain largemouths, which further explains its image as one of the country’s top trophy bass lakes.
Peak largemouth bass season on Lake Fork is spring (February through April), but the lake offers excellent year-round fishing opportunities!
Lake Fork is your number one address if you’re after big Texas largemouths!
Lake Texoma is a unique water that holds large and healthy populations of largemouth, smallmouth, and striped bass.
Its species abundance and variety are its greatest strength and make every fishing trip a unique and enjoyable experience, as you just never know what you might hook up to!
Of course, it is possible to target each bass species specifically, which makes Texoma an even more perfect fishing destination, in my opinion.
Theoretically, you could head out to the main lake for some largemouth action on one day, target smallmouths around Eisenhower State Park on the next, and then head to Red River for some striped bass action on the third day.
Additionally, Texoma is probably the best water in the entire state for big striped bass.
Some of the fish that get caught during the striper spawning run up Red River are absolute monsters!
Lake Livingston is mainly known for its excellent striped and largemouth bass fishing, but did you know that it also has a very respectable population of smallmouth bass?
As a bonus, this water also contains a fair amount of white bass, making Lake Livingston another bass fishing destination with great variety.
Largemouth and striped bass are however the most popular species on this lake.
They can’t be found everywhere, but if you find the hot spots, you’re in for a treat!
Lake Livingston’s stripers are best caught around the 190 bridge area. Most anglers will either troll or jig spoons or live shad to catch striped bass.
Livingston’s largemouth bass are predominantly caught in the areas north of the bays and creeks of the Kickapoo/Penwaugh area.
Spring and fall are the two best seasons on Lake Livingston for both stripers and largemouths.
Joe Pool Lake
Joe Pool Lake is one of Texas’ classic large and smallmouth bass waters.
Its shallow water areas are rich in vegetation and structure, giving the pre-spawn bass plenty of opportunities to hide and spawn.
Due to that fact, spring is, by far, the best season on Joe Pool, but largemouth and smallmouth bass can also be caught during summer, fall, and winter here.
So remember, when fishing for bass on Joe Pool Lake, all you have to do is find its hydrilla (hot spot near the dam), pondweed, and underwater structures, and you will find the fish!
I round up the list of Texas’s best bass lakes with famous Lake Austin.
This is another excellent largemouth bass fishery with a country-wide reputation for trophy fish.
Each year, many bass of more than 10lb are being landed by local and out-of-state anglers, and catching a real hawg bass of 12, 13, or even 14lb is always possible on Austin!
The best results can be yielded along the lake’s many near-shore weed beds, where the bass can be found during the spring spawn and early fall.
PRO TIP: Lake Austin is known for its crystal clear water during the summer months, which is why night fishing for bass can often be very productive here!
What Time of Year Is Best for Bass Fishing in Texas?
While you can successfully target Texas bass all year round, spring and fall (for largemouth, smallmouth, striped), as well as winter (largemouth and smallmouth) are considered to be the best times to fish for them.
If you’re after trophy bass, your best bet would be to fish around the spring spawn, which is the period between February and April or May.
It is now that you have the best chances of hooking up to some massive males and fat females!
On the other hand, fishing for spring bass, no matter if it’s largemouth, smallmouth, or striped bass, is not always the easiest of tasks!
So, sticking to fishing in the fall or winter might be a better idea if you want to prioritize quantity over quality.
Bass thrive in warm water, but the heat of a Texas summer can be too much even for them.
Cooler water means they will be more active and willing to feed, which is why targeting them during the fall and winter, which often remain relatively mild down south, can be so productive.
When Do Bass Spawn in Texas?
Spring is when both small and largemouth bass will spawn in Texas, although it’s important to know that smallmouth bass generally tend to spawn a little earlier than their bigger cousins.
The largemouth bass typically spawn sometime between mid-March and late April, but in some years, they can start as early as late February and stop as late as mid-May.
The males will enter the shallow waters once water temperatures are in the mid to high 50s.
The females will follow when the water reaches a temperature of around 60F.
The spawning will commence once the temperature is around 65F.
While they also spawn during springtime, smallies in the southern states will spawn somewhat earlier and deeper than largemouths.
In most years, they will spawn sometime between early March and early May, although they can start as early as mid-February during hot winters.
Once water temperatures reach the high 40s or low 50s, the males will start to enter the spawning grounds and get busy building their nests.
The bigger females will enter the scene once water temperatures are in the mid-50s, and the spawning usually commences once the temperature reaches 60F or so.
Stripers generally spawn sometime between April and late May in Texas, but in some years, they can spawn as late as mid-June.
Striped bass will spawn in water temperatures of 55 to 65F, and they need running water for their eggs to hatch.
As this species is anadromous, meaning that it migrates from the sea upriver to spawn, most inland lake populations in Texas do not have successful spawns, even though they keep trying year after year.
Lake Texoma is one of the few exceptions, as the spawns in the connecting Red River and Washita River are among the most successful ones in the entire state.
And the fishing during the spawn in these waters is often highly productive! So don’t miss out on that opportunity if you’re after Texas striped bass!
Best Bass Fishing Charters in Texas
Hiring a knowledgeable guide can be a smart idea if you’ve never fished any of Texas’ fantastic bass lakes.
A guide will do everything in his power to make your bass fishing trip memorable and successful and can provide you with valuable tips on how to best target the water he’s guiding you on.
Fishing a new lake can be very difficult and intimidating! Having a local expert show you how you should go about is worth more than gold!
I’ve headed out with local charters numerous times myself and have never regretted it.
Because the next time you are fishing that lake, you’ll know exactly what to do and be able to catch a ton of fish on your own. That’s the best feeling in the world if you ask me!
Below is a list of the best bass charters for some of Texas’ most popular lakes.
Naturally, I have included charters that target both largemouths, smallmouths, and striped bass.
Take a look if you’re searching for a bass charter in Texas:
|Recommended Bass Fishing Guides||Location|
|JDR Fishing Adventures |
|Dw’s Guide Service |
(Largemouth, Smallmouth, Striped)
|Lake Livingston Texas Guide Service|
(Largemouth, Smallmouth, Striped)
|Joe Pool Lake|
|Central Texas Fishing Guide|
What Is the Texas State Record for Largemouth Bass?
Texas is home to some of the country’s biggest largemouths, and the state record fish is proof of that.
The biggest largemouth bass ever caught in Texas is a giant fish of 18lb 2oz.
This behemoth was caught on Lake Fork back in 1992 by lucky angler Barry StClair.
According to most local anglers, Lake Fork is the state’s best water for giant largemouth bass!
And the statistics can second that, as Lake Fork has produced six of Texas’ top ten largemouth bass over the years.
So if you’re after the big girls, this incredible Texas bass water should definitely be on your bucket list!
What Is the Texas State Record for Smallmouth Bass?
Texas is also known for big smallmouth bass, and every year, many 5+ pounders are caught by both local and out-of-state anglers.
The state record is a fish caught on Lake Meredith in 1998. This fish weighed in at an incredible 7lb 15oz and was caught by angler Timothy Teague.
If you check the state’s top 10 smallmouth bass, you’ll find that another lake dominates the list almost entirely.
Lake Whitney holds eight of the ten spots on that list, and all of these catches weighed more than 7lb, which is absolutely incredible if you ask me!
Without a dought, Whitney is one of Texas’ absolute best smallmouth waters and a lake you simply must target if you’re after this species.
What Is the Texas State Record for Striped Bass
Striped bass grow considerably bigger than both largemouth and smallmouth, and fish of more than 30lb are being caught every year.
While the biggest specimens can be found in saltwater, Texas’ many inland waters still manage to produce awe-inspiring striped bass.
The biggest freshwater striped bass ever caught in Texas is a huge fish of 53lb that angler Ron Venerable caught on the Brazos River in 1999.
Texas Bass Fishing Reports
The Texas Parks and Wildlife website has a detailed weekly fishing report for many of the state’s popular bass lakes.
It includes helpful information about water temperatures, depths, visibility, fish location, and baits.
Another Texas freshwater fishing report can be found on Lone Star Outdoor News.
There are also quite a few informative and helpful Texas bass fishing Facebook groups that you can check out here:
What Is the Bag Limit for Bass in Texas?
The daily bag limit for any combination of bass, including largemouth, smallmouth, Alabama, Guadalupe, and spotted, is 5 fish.
The minimum length for small and largemouth bass in 14 inches.
Spotted, Guadalupe, and Alabama bass do not have a minimum length requirement.
The same bag limit (5 in any combination) applies to striped and hybrid striped bass. This species has a minimum length of 18 inches.
For white bass, the daily bag limit is 25, and the minimum length is 10 inches.
There is no bag limit or minimum length for yellow bass in Texas.
Please visit the Texas Parks and Wildlife’s Freshwater bag and length limit section for more information.
Do You Need a License to Fish for Bass in Texas?
Any resident and non-resident who wants to fish for bass in the waters of Texas needs a valid Texas fishing license with a freshwater endorsement.
Please visit the Texas Parks and Wildlife website for more detailed information on regulations, fees, and packages.
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Featured image courtesy of Ethan Zomermaand