Top 15 Texas Game Fish – Fishing in Texas
The subject of this article will be the top 15 Texas game fish species, focusing on freshwater and inshore saltwater fish game species. Texas fishing tips and techniques will be included.
The state of Texas offers anglers some outstanding fishing opportunities. Coastal waters have excellent populations of redfish and speckled trout. Other species such as flounder, sheepshead, and drum are plentiful in the shallow, fertile bays. Freshwater anglers target trophy largemouth bass, crappie, catfish, striped bass, panfish, and more in Texas lakes and rivers.
The Top 12 Texas game fish are;
- speckled trout
- black drum
- jack crevalle
- Spanish mackerel
- king mackerel
- largemouth bass
- striped bass and hybrid bass
- channel catfish
- blue catfish
- flathead catfish
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Stephanie is our Texas expert
“Little bit about me, I just started fishing a couple years ago. It wasn’t anything that my family did, and certainly wasn’t something that you see many women doing. When I met my man it was his passion, I fished to be with him, but it quickly became something that I loved, it became my passion, it became my reset button, and it fed my soul. I started getting more and more into fishing learning about the baits, the reels, the rods, and soon it wasn’t him asking to go fishing, it was me asking him to go fishing.
“It wasn’t long before it wasn’t him asking to go fishing it was me asking to go fishing and learning new knots and baits and reading about fishing techniques and studying the maps. I absolutely love fishing and I would like to tell all the ladies out there this is not just a mans sport, get out there on the water, get your lines wet you won’t regret it.
Capt Jim has been a fishing guide in Sarasota, Florida since 1991. Anglers who are interested in purchasing the equipment that he uses and writes about in his articles and reports can do so on the PRODUCTS page.
Top Texas inshore saltwater species
The shallow bays along the Texas coast from Houston to South Padre Island offer anglers excellent opportunities to catch fish. Speckled trout are the top inshore species, with redfish being a close second. Flounder, black drum, and sheepshead are also available.
1) Speckled trout (spotted sea trout )
Speckled trout are arguably the most popular saltwater species in Texas. They are a beautiful fish that are aggressive and strike rates and artificial lures with gusto. Speckled trout school up on the shallow flats as well as in the passes. Trout are also fantastic eating.
The entire Gulf Coast of Texas from Houston down to South Padre Island is ideal speckled trout habitat. The wide, shallow bays consist of mud, we, sand, and oyster shell bottom. Submerge grass beds and oyster bars in particular attract the forage that speckled trout feed on. Their diet consists of both crustaceans and bait fish.
Many speckled trout are landed by Texas anglers using a noisy cork. These corks provide casting weight while also being used to attract fish. The top of the cork has a concave face which makes a loud “pop” when twitched sharply. This noise simulates feeding fish and attracts both speckled trout and other species to the bait dangling below. Anglers can use either a live shrimp or a soft plastic bait on a jig head under the cork.
2) Redfish (red drum, puppy drum)
Redfish are another very popular inshore saltwater species targeted by Texas anglers. They also thrive in the shallow bays and passes. Redfish will often be found in schools on the flats in late summer. They gang up before moving out into the Gulf of Mexico to spawn.
Redfish can be caught in very shallow water. Oyster bars are prime spots as they forage for crabs and shrimp. They are also found in the rock jetties and under docks and bridges. Live shrimp and small bait fish are the top live baits. Jigs and weedless gold spoons are good artificial lures. The same popping cork techniques that produce trout will fool redfish as well.
Schools of bull redfish can be encountered in the open waters of the Gulf of Mexico. Anglers coming across one of these schools are in for a treat! The reds will be fairly easy to get to bite if anglers are patient and quietly ease into position. These are large fish, so make sure the tackle is appropriate.
Flounder are another much sought after inshore species. They are found right on the bottom. Flounder are predators with surprisingly large mouths and prefer live prey such as bait fish and shrimp. A live shrimp on a ¼ ounce jig head is very productive. Live mud minnows and other small bait fish are great baits as well.
Flounder have an interesting life. When they are born, they swim up right, the same is most other fish. However, at some point in their life they turn over on their side and the eye migrates to the side facing up. This results in the flounder swimming with one side down all the time and both eyes looking up.
Flounder will bury themselves in the San with much of their body covered except for their mouth and eyes. There mottled markings blended in well with the sandy bottom. Generally, flounder will do this right on the edge of structure where transitions from hard bottom to send. Then, they will ambush any prey that wanders within range.
Flounder will also stage near structure in the passes. Outgoing tides are a great time to fish for them as they lie in wait, hoping to ambush a meal. Heavier jig heads and sinkers may be required if the current is strong.
4) Black drum
Black drum are cousins to the redfish and are similar in feeding habit and locations. Redfish are actually red drum. Black drum can be found in surprisingly shallow water for their size. Black drum will also school up in very deep water and passes and out in the open Gulf of Mexico. Smaller specimens are good to eat, however, larger drum can get a bit wormy.
Black drum are similar to redfish with a few exceptions. For one thing, they grow larger. Secondly, black drum feed primarily on crustaceans whereas redfish feed on bait fish more often. Also, while black drum will occasionally take and artificial lure, the vast majority are caught by anglers using natural bait. Blue crabs cut in half are a top black drum bait, especially for anglers targeting the larger fish. Plenty of black drum are caught on shrimp as well.
Black drum are similar to sheepshead and looks, especially when they are smaller. However, they are a bit more elongated. Black drum love all structure such as bridges, docks, jetties, oyster bars, ledges, and more. Anglers targeting black drum fish live or frozen shrimp or fresh cut crab right on the bottom.
Sheepshead are plentiful and popular along the entire Gulf Coast, and Texas is no exception. These tasty members of the porgy family are almost always found around some type of structure. Docks, bridges, jetties, rocks, hard bottom, ledges, artificial reefs, and oyster bars will all hold sheepshead. They feed primarily on crustaceans and are usually caught by anglers using shrimp or fiddler crabs.
Sheepshead can be found in shallow water at times, especially along the edges of oyster bars that drop off into deeper water. However, most are found in water between six and 15 feet deep. Docks and bridges are prime spots to target sheepshead. Rocks and jetties will hold plenty of fish as well. Structure such as wrecks and artificial reefs in the Gulf of Mexico will produce sheepshead, and sometimes larger specimens.
Several species of shark inhabit the shallow bays and inshore Gulf of Mexico waters in Texas. These provide great sport on light tackle and will actually take an artificial lure. Blacktip and bonnethead sharks are the most commonly caught shark species.
7) Jack crevalle
Jack crevalle are a terrific inshore game fish! While not considered good to eat, these fish grow large, pull incredibly hard, hit lures and flies, and are almost always in a feeding mood. What more could an angler ask for?
One great aspect of jacks is that the fishing is often times visual. Jacks will herd bait fish up on the surface and then feed aggressively. This can be seen from a long way off on a calm day. They will pretty much hit any lure of bait that comes their way. Jacks are found on the flats, in channels and passes, near bridges and docks, and out in the Gulf of Mexico.
8) Spanish mackerel
Spanish mackerel are found in large numbers in the inshore Gulf of Mexico. They are often found feeding on the surface. Birds wheeling and diving are another sign that mackerel are in the area. Spanish mackerel will also move into the passes and bays. Anglers catch them free lining live bait, casting lures, trolling, and fly fishing.
9) king mackerel
King mackerel, or “kingfish” are an extremely popular saltwater game fish all along the Gulf Coast, and Texas is no exception. While they are found offshore, they do move in quite close to the beach when conditions are right. Clear water that is in the low 70’s will attract bait and therefore kings. Anglers mainly catch them by trolling artificial lures and live bait fish. This allows for them to cover a lot of water in search of fish.
Top Texas freshwater species
9) Largemouth bass
Largemouth bass are arguably the most popular game fish in the United States. Texas is second only to Florida when it comes to numbers and size of largemouth bass. Anglers could make the argument that Texas has the best bass fishing in North America. Most Texas bass, especially the larger ones, are transplanted Florida strain fish. The environment and growing season in Texas our perfect for largemouth bass to prosper.
Many large lakes were created and Texas in the 1960s and 1970s. Many acres of flooded timber provided excellent cover and habitat for largemouth bass. That, along with the advent and popularity of bass tournaments helped grow the sport quickly. Texas offers anglers bass fishing 12 months out of the year, one more reason for the popularity of largemouth bass in Texas.
Most anglers targeting largemouth bass do so using artificial lures. Many of the advancements in technology and development of lures resulted from tournament bass anglers. Top baits include plastic worms and other soft plastic baits, spinner baits, hard bodied plugs, spoons, and jigs.
Largemouth bass are normally structure oriented. It will generally be found around some type of cover such as fallen timber or weeds, along with docks, bridges, and other man-made structure. They will at times school up in open water, particularly on the edges of channels. Largemouth bass spawn in the spring in shallow water.
Crappie are the largest member of the pan fish family. They are extremely popular throughout the United States. Crappie tournaments are becoming more numerous each year. While crappie do not put up a tremendous fight, they are a beautiful fish, fun to catch, and are fantastic eating.
There are two types of crappie, black crappie and white crappie. For the most part, their diets, habits, and locations are similar enough to cover them together. Minnows are the primary diet of crappie. Therefore, the vast majority of anglers targeting them use either small live minnows or artificial lures that mimic the small baitfish.
Small plastic tail jigs and marabou jigs are extremely productive crappie lowers. They can be fished slowly and enticingly to fool crappie into biting. Different weights can be used to cover the water column. While there are many different manufacturers of plastic tail jigs, and they can all be effective, Stephanie prefers Mudd Butt baits.
Jigs can be cast, troll, and vertically fished. Trolling has become extremely popular as it allows anglers to cover a wide path with multiple lures at one time. Special rods up to 20 feet long can be used. Jigs can also be fished vertically while the boat drifts along the bottom or is held in position over likely structure with the trolling motor. Finally, jigs can be cast toward shoreline cover and under docks.
Texas crappie fishing
Stephanie loves crappie fishing and is sharing some of her tips here with other anglers.
“I wanted to share some information on freshwater crappie fishing. We fish brush piles starting in spring and on into summer. The warmer it gets the deeper the brush piles need to be. We fish slip corks with minnows, but also throw 1/32 oz or 1/16 oz jigs when the brush is deeper. I like to fish the curly tail grubs when fishing brush piles but also like the Bobby Garland Slab Slayer or Minnow Mind’R.
“When it gets warmer we like to move to the piers and docks. Generally, the best time to target crappie under docks is when the sun is up high. We had the best luck on an older docks in about 7′-8′ of water as well as a covered boat dock. My favorite dock shooting rod is a 6′ medium rigged with my KastKing Centron 500 spooled up with 4 pound line. My favorite combination is a 1/32 oz jighead and the Mudd Butt Baits 2″ Crappie squirt. These don’t get tangled.
Shooting docks for crappie
“I try to shoot as far as I can so that it puts me in the right direction while swinging back to the boat. Sometimes they are holding far back on the piers and other times they are holding right on the edge. You just have to find them but once you do they are typically all in about the same area. I caught some of my biggest crappie on the docks of Lake Conroe”.
Texas also offers anglers excellent fishing for bluegill, sunfish, shellcrackers and other pan fish. Just about every creek, river, pond, and lake in Texas offers anglers the chance to catch these feisty little game fish. Pan fish are great fun and great sport when targeted using ultralight spinning tackle or fly rods.
While many species can be lumped into the pan fish category, they can actually differ quite a bit and habit and diet. Bluegill are probably the most aggressive, eating just about everything. They will eat insects, worms, crustaceans, and small baitfish. Of all the pan fish, they are probably the most willing to attack and artificial lure. Small jigs and spinner baits are top lures.
While other types of sunfish such as green sunfish, redear sunfish (also known as a shell cracker), red breast sunfish, and longhair sunfish will take a lure or fly, most are caught using live baits such as worms and crickets. Of this group, shell crackers are the largest. They get their name from feeding on mollusks and other crustaceans. They are normally found in slightly deeper water.
12) Striped bass and hybrids
Striped bass were introduced into Texas lakes in the mid-1970s. As submerged timber rotted and disintegrated, largemouth bass moved to man-made structure, especially docks. As striped bass are an open water fish, they became a perfect replacement for the bass which had moved to the shorelines. By any measure, they are a great success!
Most of the striped bass caught in Texas lakes are stocked. Striped bass move up into flowing rivers to spawn. Many lakes and impoundments have dams which restrict the movements of striped bass. Therefore, they cannot access these flowing streams to lay their eggs.
In many instances, forage fish were added to the lakes for the striped bass to feed on. Gizzard shad, hickory shad, and blueback herring were the most common species. These complement the striped bass as they also prefer open water. Freshwater striped bass in Texas grow very large feeding on the abundant forage.
Trolling for striped bass
Trolling is a terrific way to locate and catch striped bass. It allows anglers to cover a lot of water in a relatively short period of time. Striped bass often relate to the channel edges of the original River bed. Anglers often troll back and forth over the channel edge with jigs and live bait.
Anglers can also cast for striped bass. This is particularly true when they are seen working on the surface. Also, striped bass will move to the bank at times and on lakes where possible, striped bass will move up into the rivers and can be caught there by anglers casting lures as well.
Hybrid striped bass are available in Texas lakes as well. They are a mix between striped bass and white bass. These are known as “hybrids”, and “wipers”. They do not grow quite the largest striped bass, however they are abundant in very aggressive. Hybrids can be identified by their broken horizontal line on their body. They are also a bit wider than striped bass.
The top 12 Texas game fish; Catfish
Catfish are becoming quite popular in Texas as game fish. They are becoming the targets of more and more anglers seeking a truly large freshwater fish. The introduction of blue catfish along with the native flathead catfish give anglers the chance to catch a fish that is close to 100 pounds. Channel catfish are smaller in size, but much more plentiful in terms of numbers and are probably the best eating of the three.
While all three of the Texas catfish species are similar, there are variations in their diets and habits. All three catfish species are opportunistic and will scavenge when food is readily available. However, all three are predators and willingly eat live prey. Catfish sometimes get a bad reputation as a species that scours the bottom and devours whatever tidbits they can fine, but this is not at all true.
Catfish are found in streams, small rivers, and larger rivers and lake systems. They normally feed on or near the bottom, but can be found up higher in the water column at times. They do prefer cover, especially fallen trees and rocks. Catfish are nocturnal feeders but can be easily caught during the daylight hours as well.
Most anglers targeting catfish use a sinker with a short leader in a hook. The list of baits in a catfish will take is long, but includes nightcrawlers, chicken and pork livers, crayfish, live minnows, chunks of fresh fish, and prepared commercial catfish baits. Top spots and rivers are outside bends with cover. Catfish and lakes are found near bridges, riprap shorelines, channel edges, and near the dams, especially in the tail waters.
13) Blue catfish
Blue catfish are commonly caught in the 20 pound to 40 pound range and grow March larger than that. While they are native to some parts of Texas, they have also been introduced to larger lakes and river systems. Blue catfish prefer large bodies of water, both rivers and lakes.
These are true predator fish. While they will eat insects and crustaceans, especially at a younger age, they start feeding on live bait fish sooner than other catfish species. In some River and Lake systems, they are actually considered to be a problem and stay feet so heavily and grow so large. Blue cats are similar in appearance to channel catfish. However, they do not have spots and have a slate blue grey coloring on their back.
14) Channel catfish
Channel catfish are by far the most abundant of the three catfish species. They are found in a wide range of habitats from small creeks and slow moving streams to large rivers and lakes. Young channel cats mostly eat insects and then switch over to muscles, crustaceans, and baitfish. The adaptability of channel cats to its water type and diet is surely a key to its abundance in terms of numbers.
Channel catfish are a very popular freshwater fish species, perhaps second only to largemouth bass. There range and numbers are primary factors for this. Very few anglers in the United States live very far from a spot where they can catch channel cats. They are also extremely good eating and by far the best of the three.
15) Flathead catfish
Flathead catfish grow very large. They easily reach weights of over 100 pounds. As the name suggests, they have a large flat head and are pale yellow to light brown in color this gives them their nickname of “yellow catfish”. Flathead cats are solitary predators and prefer deep holes in creeks and rivers with a sluggish current and lots of cover.
Flathead catfish differ from the other catfish in that they feed exclusively on live fish. They will eat insects and other opportunistic meals as young fish, but at an early age they switch over to feeding exclusively on whatever forage is available. In areas where it is permitted, a large live son fish is considered a great bait for flathead catfish. Anglers to catch them on cut fish as well.
Fishing Texas Lakes and Rivers
This article on fishing Texas lakes and rivers will help anglers catch more fish, especially catfish and gar. These fish grow very large and put up a terrific fight. Also, anyone can do this. Other than heavy tackle, special gear is really not required. Kayaks and canoes are the vessels of choice. Anglers fishing from the bank catch plenty of fish as well.
Fishing the Trinity River Texas for catfish and gar
The subject of this blog post will be fishing the Trinity River Texas for catfish and gar. Catfish are an extremely popular freshwater game fish in the United States. They have a very wide range and are found all over the world. Catfish, especially trophy cats, are apex predators. They sometimes get a bad rap for eating garbage on the bottom. However, in most instances, they prefer live prey.
The three primary, and largest, species of catfish in the United States are blue catfish, channel catfish, and flathead or yellow catfish. All three are found throughout large portions of the country. Channel cats are the most plentiful in the smallest. Flathead catfish grow the largest. Blue cats also grow large, over 100 pounds, and their range is spreading.
Most catfish are caught by anglers fishing the Trinity River do so using live bait, cut bait, or commercially prepared catfish baits on the bottom. Catfish are bottom dwellers and that is where they do most of their feeding. They will come up in the water column at times. They prefer some type of structure such as a ledge, submerged timber, or man-made structure such as bridge pilings or docks.
For many anglers, targeting catfish is a casual, relaxing enterprise. Catfish can be caught from banks of lakes and rivers, easily accessible to the public. Anglers can also target catfish from boats. Anchoring an outside bends in river channels, near submerged structure, and in tailwaters produces plenty of catfish. However, this is not the approach that Lacey takes!
Extreme fishing on Texas rivers!
Lacey Miller is our correspondent for this piece. She grew up in a small town in northern California and moved to the Dallas, Texas area five years ago. Lacey does NOT take the easy route and her pursuit of trophy catfish! She is sharing her experiences and techniques for fishing the Trinity River with us here.
“We mainly fish central Dallas & North of Dallas, lakes and the Trinity River, often times enduring extreme weather, sometimes for 36 hours straight. I’ve been fishing my whole life, moved to Texas about 5 years ago and changed my fishing game! I was fishing there in boats, here we fish extreme places. I take long hikes into the fishing holes when bank fishing.
Fishing the Trinity River Texas
On the Trinity we usually kayak about a 15 mile stretch, staying the night somewhere on the water. We pack in as much gear we can fit on the kayak. Then, we start our journey and drift down river, stopping to fish when we see a promising spot. We have encountered many of the river creatures such as gators, snakes, hogs, and beaver while staying on the water.
In late afternoon I stop and build a shelter with whatever the earth has provided and we hunker down for the nights catch. We prepare a meal and then fish all night. That is when the big girls are on the prowl! Most times it is a test of strength I’m still the only female that I know who has endured a 36 hr trip on the Trinity.
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This year we decided to start running guided trips on the Trinity during the summer. It is a unique experience that I would like to share with other adventurous anglers. We are going to offer day trips next year, for those that don’t wish to primitive camp, but still want a chance at an alligator gar.
During the winter we fish local lakes for trophy catfish. At times, I fish through the night in 30° weather. It is hit or miss on the fishing with all the rain. Most places are flooded & we wait on swampy shorelines for the bite. I am pro catch & release with catfish and alligator gar. I do everything possible to ensure the fish survive and are released back into the water they came from.
Trinity River catfish and gar tackle
The tackle required when targeting large catfish and gar is fairly heavy. This is not the place for finesse fishing! Lacey has landed catfish to an estimated 50 pounds in the Trinity River and surrounding rivers and lakes. Fish that large are hard to weigh! Her choice is a medium heavy conventional outfit. She likes a 7-10 foot rod (though some anglers prefer rods up to 12 feet) and a casting real loaded with 80 pound braided line for catfish and 150 pound braid for gar.
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Lacey has been using a heavy spinning outfit of late. This is mainly due to the fact that spinning outfits are easier for clients to cast and manage. She likes a Penn Fierce 6000 live liner reel on a stout rod.
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The rig is as simple and basic as the tackle. A bottom bouncing rig works best. This consists of a 4 ounce no roll type sinker. The sinker has a hole in it, allowing the line to pass through. A swivel is then tied on. This provides a stop for the sinker as well as a way to attach the leader. A 10” piece of 80 pound braided line leader is attached to the swivel. A size 6/0 Kahle catfish hook completes the rig. For gar she a uses 12” steel leader and a 5/0 bronze treble hook.
As with all fishing, you never know what to catfish and gar one from one day to the other. If she had to choose one bait to use year-round, Lacey would use buffalo fish. Carp and shad are also productive baits for catching fish. The “big bait equals big fish”theory definitely applies here. Lacey will oftentimes use a very large bait to target a big fish. She understands that she won’t get a lot of action, but when she does, it will be a trophy.
Conditions position fish on Texas Rivers
Conditions are very important when fishing rivers. The height of the water along with the clarity and current speed will dictate fish locations. When the water is high, fast, and muddy, catfish will seek refuge from the strong current. They will position themselves in sloughs and eddies off of the main channel where possible. It is just not efficient for them to fight the strong current while waiting for a meal to come by.
Conversely, when the water is low, fish will stage in the deeper holes. This is particularly true in the heat of summer. There simply is not enough water on the flats near the banks for them to get up and feet and feel comfortable.
Fishing Texas Rivers, techniques
Lacey has some simple advice for anglers new to fishing for river catfish;
“I tell novice anglers fishing the Trinity River that if they want to catch a catfish, the easiest thing to do is target outside bends in the river channel. Current almost always gouges out a deeper hole in these areas. Also cover such as fallen timber and other debris tends to collect in these areas. The depth, cover, and current make these outside bends ideal habitat for catfish and other species.”
While catfish can be caught during the middle of the day, and many are, dusk, Don, and night are the best times to target catfish. This is especially true for anglers seeking a trophy fish. This is one of the huge advantages of overnight camping, once anglers get settled in late afternoon, they can fish the evening bite and is late into the night as they want. Then in the morning, they are all set up and ready to go to catch one early. Hard-core anglers such as Lacey stay up all night and fish, but taking a nap in the middle of the night is okay, too.
Fishing for gar on the Trinity River
Lacey also likes to target trophy gar. While gar can be taken using the same baits and locations as catfish, there are a few tweaks she makes when targeting gar. Here are her tips on catching these prehistoric fish.
“Alligator Gar fishing: I believe they are harder to land than other fish! They have a mouth/teeth like an Alligator & will cut thru the line, this is why we use steel leader. They grab your bait (which is like one or two big taps on your line) and then they run (my favorite part because the Penn reel is screaming!!) until they find a good spot and begin swallowing the bait.
“This is quiet time, you will think you’ve lost the fish. Once they’ve swallowed the bait, which can be minutes later, they continue on their way. This is when some will “set the hook” which is not your typical hook setting. It’s more like your entire body weight thrown the opposite direction of your bait to counter the fish. We prefer to set the hook during the first initial run. By doing this the gar will not swallow the hook & chance for survival is greater.
Once hook is set the fight begins. ( I literally moved to Texas after fighting my first gar while on vacation here from California. I hooked the biggest fish to date I’ve had on rod& reel; we named her Big Sally. After fighting her for almost 2 hours, she jumped our of the water about 4′ from shore & spit the hook right at my feet. Many times the gar spit the bait or snap the line with their teeth. Making a landed gar that much more exciting!
Other Texas rivers and lakes
Lacey’s favorite water to fish is the Trinity River. This River starts an extreme north Texas and flows for 710 miles. The stretch of river that Lacey finds the most productive and enjoyable to fish is from the heart of Dallas all the way down to East of Ennis Texas. We also have permission from land owners giving us exclusive access to many untouched parts of the river.
While Lacey prefers the Trinity River, several area lakes and reservoirs offer anglers good fishing for catfish and other species. Cedar Creek Lake, Lake Tawakoni and Richland Chambers Reservoir are her top three lakes.
Lake Conroe Fishing Tips with “Guppy”.
This article shares some great Lake Conroe fishing tips along with the adventures of Rachelle in the world of fishing and conservation.
Rachelle, graciously nicknamed “Guppy Doyle” is a “Jill of All Trades” with a true Texas heart. After serving 8 years in the fire department, completing pre-med, and obtaining a degree in Emergency Medical Care from Texas A&M University, she handed over her stethoscope and traded it for a fishing pole to help a good friend launch his business.
This was unknowingly the beginning of their love story. Just a couple of friends teaming up to launch a successful business, love bloomed between mixing bait and researching the legalities of trade secrets vs. patents.
Catfish products and services from Guppy
While she still enjoys challenging herself with clinical research in her free time, her days are full of running Catfish Bubblegum, Bradley’s Bite Enhancer, and Bradley’s Guide Service from the inside. She also organizes children’s fishing events for Texas Trophy Catfish Association.
Guppy fishes out of destination Lake Conroe, a 21,000-acre lake in Montgomery County, Texas. Extending about 21 miles in length, the lake includes 5,000 acres that span into Sam Houston National Forest. While the majority of the lake is in the unincorporated region of the county, only a small section sprawls into the city of Conroe. The lake runs through the East Texas Piney Woods forests. The lake has an overall good water quality, seeing an average depth of 20.5 feet and a maximum depth of 75 feet. Lake Conroe is a popular attraction for recreational boating and has become one of the most popular fishing lakes in Texas. It hosted last year’s Bass Master Classic fishing tournament known nationwide.
Fishing for Lake Conroe bass and catfish
Lake Conroe is particularly well-known for its trophy Largemouth Bass. Other popular fish species include Bluegill, Channel Catfish, White Bass and Hybrid Striped Bass. Channel catfish are the most abundant species in the lake. Guppy targets Channel Catfish, trophy Blue Catfish, and Crappie, though she often “accidentally” reels in Largemouth and Striped Bass.
Channel catfish are by far the most abundant sportfish in the lake, offering most any angler a good opportunity for great catches. The current daily bag limit on Lake Conroe for Channel Catfish, Blue Catfish, their hybrids and subspecies, is 25 in any combination with a minimum length of 12 inches. Flathead Catfish are more regulated with a daily bag limit of 5 with a minimum length of 18 inches. Always check current local fishing regulations before fishing.
Lake Conroe fishing tips; catfish
Guppy uses 2 different techniques for Catfishing, depending on the size of fish she’s targeting. For “eater-sized” Catfish she suspends Catfish Bubblegum on her treble hook just off the bottom of the lake and has no problem obtaining her daily bag limit. Invented by her husband, Brad Doyle, and made in their home kitchen, Catfish Bubblegum is the only no-stink Catfish bait on the market and is available in 4 unique flavors; Original Recipe, Liquor-ish, Gar-Lick & Onion, and Bacon. Baits must reach near bottom quickly to avoid the small bait-stealers that inhabit the shallower water.
When targeting trophy Catfish, Guppy uses cut carp or Menhaden shad soaked in Bradley’s Bite Enhancer. This is a liquid that can be used as a spray or marinade, which is scientifically formulated to increase bite ratios in all species of predatory fish. She puts the soaked natural cut bait on a 10/0 Octopus Circle hook and uses the wind to drift fish at various depths. Though the trophy bite is of a much slower pace, the fight with these magnificent creatures is quite the experience. Guppy tags and releases all trophy Catfish to assist in gathering data on their growth patterns.
Though still considered a start-up company, Catfish Bubblegum and Bradley’s Bite Enhancer are available to anglers online at www.catfishbubblegum.com and in 42 bait shops across the United States and Puerto Rico. Ladies fishing Lake Conroe have good success using it when targeting catfish.
Fishing for Lake Conroe crappie
Though Guppy’s life essentially revolves around Catfishing, she thoroughly enjoys the fast pace of Crappie fishing. Crappie are very popular and offer good opportunity for anglers seeking table fare. Black and White Crappie made a comeback in the lake with the efforts of the Lake Conroe Restocking Association’s spring stockings of advance juvenile crappie. Good catches of crappie can be had in early spring and in the fall. Black and White Crappie along with their hybrids and subspecies have a daily bag limit of 25 with a minimum length of 10 inches.
When fishing for Crappie over submerged “reefs” or brush piles, Guppy uses either live minnows on a crappie hook or crappie jigs, both sprayed with Bradley’s Bite Enhancer. Man-made structures have been used to create four fish “attractor reefs” in Lake Conroe. The attractors were placed by TPWD in cooperation with the San Jacinto River Authority, local Friends of Reservoirs groups, and other partners. Anglers may use GPS in conjunction with a fish finder to locate these reefs.
Fish Lake Conroe in cooler weather for great action
Colder months with cooler water temperatures typically produce successful fishing trips for almost every species. Scorching heat in the summertime proves problematic for many anglers. Guppy says the trick is to identify the depth of the thermocline – a steep temperature gradient in a body of water marked by a layer above and below which the water is at different temperatures. The fish prefer deeper water in the summer to escape the heat, without crossing the thermocline where oxygen levels are substantially lower.
Years ago, Grass Carp was introduced to Lake Conroe to help control the invasive overgrowth of the Hydrilla plant. To this day, a Triploid Grass Carp Permit is in effect. If a grass carp is caught, it must be immediately returned to the water unharmed.
Lake Conroe safety concerns
Lake Conroe has reportedly held the title of the deadliest lake in Texas since the year 2000. Most deaths are a result of boating accidents but occasionally drownings do take place. Lake Conroe’s biggest downfall is the amount of inexperienced and irresponsible recreational boaters, particularly large vessels capsizing smaller boats and kayaks with their massive wake, or boaters under the influence causing deadly accidents.
Guppy recalls a frightening morning when her husband, Brad, and his family had a horrifying encounter with a large vessel. The massive boat crossed directly in front of them, sending a catastrophic wake their way. The first wave caused the front of his 21-foot pontoon boat to go airborne, then nosedive as the second wave came aboard sending water waist high on the children that were on board. Fortunately, Brad was able to maintain control by quickly putting the boat in reverse, avoiding tragedy. All children on board were wearing life vests and all of his equipment that ended up in the water was able to be retrieved. That same week, 2 victims of capsizing were not as lucky and unfortunately lost their lives in the same waters due to large wakes.
Texas Trophy Catfish Association’s “Kids Fish Fest”
Guppy is the event coordinator for Texas Trophy Catfish Association’s “Kids Fish Fest” events. Since obtaining their 501(c)3 Non-Profit Charity Organization status 5 months ago, Guppy has worked tirelessly to organize events where a group of phenomenal volunteers have been able to teach over 600 children how to fish. In open communication with Texas Parks & Wildlife and several Texas based fishing groups, the demand for educational and interactive events has grown substantially.
At “Kids Fish Fest” children are able to come out to learn how to tie knots, receiving casting and fishing lessons, fish identification and conservation education, as well as see trophy Catfish up close and personal in a rejuvenation tank before observing a tagging demonstration and watching their safe release back into the water.
All TXTCA volunteers have attended courses to become Texas Parks & Wildlife Certified Angler Education Instructors and majority are even CPR certified and/or certified by the Texas Department of State Health Services and National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians (NREMT) to ensure these events remain safe for everyone involved.
In addition to filming two seasons with Gone Fishing Pro television series as a professional tournament angler, Guppy has had the opportunity to reach out to the public, face to face at the Sports & Outdoors Banquet of First Baptist Church of Conroe with Duck Dynasty’s own John Godwin, the Conroe Cajun Catfish Festival, the Houston Fishing Show, Kids Wildlife Conservation Day by Texas Brigades, The Southwest Houston International In-Water Boat Show, Possum Kingdom Catmasters Tournament on Possum Kingdom Lake in Graford, Texas, 1st Annual Kings & Queens Kids Catfishing Tournament by Hearts of the Father in Waller, Texas, and several events hosted by Walden Marina on Lake Conroe. In total, at these alone, she’s educated upwards of 100,000 people about her goals in conservation.
Tagging and safely releasing trophy Catfish is vital to collecting data on their growth patterns and in turn improving regulations. As it stands on Lake Conroe, fishing license holders are allowed to keep 25 Catfish per day, with no limit on how large the harvested fish can be. This proves problematic in conflicting with the dwindling numbers of trophy Catfish on Texas waters. The goal is to gather enough information on the Catfish’ growth patterns to encourage Texas Parks & Wildlife and San Jacinto River Authority to make changes to the daily bag limit regulations and preserve the trophy Catfish population to ensure a healthy spawn rate and ecosystem.
In attempts to improve conservation efforts, TxTCA has been able to negotiate with tournament leaders to change regulations regarding weigh-in protocol, and to date has not had anyone back down on the requirements. Fish must be weighed in alive. Tournament rules have changed to where fish brought in dead are either unable to be weighed or 10% of the weight is deducted. To date, they’ve had 0 trophy casualties. This is an improvement Guppy has been able to witness personally as TxTCA progresses.
Guppy has made a goal to reach 150,000 people face to face and teach over 1,000 children how to fish in 2019. To learn more about conservation efforts, visit Texas Trophy Catfish Association . If you’d like to try Catfish Bubblegum or Bradley’s Bite Enhancer, you can visit our website to purchase or find a retailer near you. To contact Guppy about her products or schedule a fishing trip with Bradley’s Guide Service on Lake Conroe, call (936) 232-4683.
In conclusion, this article on fishing in Texas, the top 15 species will help anglers understand the locations, seasons, baits and lures, and techniques needed to catch more fish. Anglers can find all Texas fishing regulations on the state site. What is your favorite Texas game fish?