TPWD trout stocking program keeps anglers busy all winter long

A total of 209 sites in Texas are stocked with more than 344,000 trout during the winter months this year through the end of February.

By Jerry Clayton, Texas Public RadioJanuary 12, 2024 8:45 am, ,

From Texas Public Radio:

Winter in Texas is not exactly synonymous with fishing, but the state has a program that keeps anglers busy all winter long.

At Camp Huaco Springs, on the banks of the Guadalupe on a cool December day, about two dozen fishermen lined the bank, waiting patiently. Among them San Antonio musician Trey Gonzalez, who’s just donned his waders.

“You know, I actually just got these waders in this past week, so I’m now a wade fisherman. If that’s what you want to call it,” Gonzalez said. “It’s a learned skill from what I’ve heard.”

TPWD prepares to stock rainbow trout at Camp Huaco Springs.
Jerry Clayton / Texas Public Radio

All the anglers here are waiting for Texas Parks and Wildlife to bring a load of rainbow trout to stock in the river.

Joseph Blancarte is from Bulverde. “This spot right here kind of reminds me of a little place in Colorado,” he said. He already has his lure rig that he hopes will trick a trout.

I use a ‘super-duper,’ and it’s a little piece of metal that’s bent with a treble hook on the end. It seems to work”

Finally, the truck and trailer from Texas Parks and Wildlife arrives.

Two TPWD employees backed the trailer up to the bank. Trey Kunz describes the tanks where the fish are held.

“We run straight oxygen to all these tanks to keep the water well oxygenated, which is, of course, what these fish need to survive, along with water,” Kunz said.

TPWD technicians stocking rainbow trout at Camp Huaco Springs.
Jerry Clayton / Texas Public Radio

They start by dipping a few nets full of trout and placing them in the water. After that, a large hose is attached to the tank and it opens up, and around 800 8- to 10-inch rainbow trout come streaming out. The anglers then cast their lines.

The trout-stocking program in Texas is mainly funded by hunting and fishing license sales, along with federal grants and private groups and individuals who make sure that anglers have year-round opportunities.

Carl Kittel is the rainbow trout program director.

We really like rainbow trout as a fishing opportunity, because they’re so useful for anglers that you can catch them on a worm, on corn, on a power bait, on a spinner, on a fly. So they’ll take the bait,” Kittel said. “They provide lots of fishing opportunity, and we encourage people, if they’re interested, to keep up to their limit of five, and take them home to eat.”

A total of 209 sites will be stocked, with more than 344,000 trout during the winter months this year through the end of February. Rainbow trout can only survive in cooler temperatures. The stocked fish won’t last through the summer, so TPWD encourages fishermen to catch and keep their limit of five rainbow trout.

There are two known places in Texas where rainbow trout have at least a chance to live and reproduce year-round: One small creek in the Davis Mountains in far West Texas, and the Canyon tail race at the base of Canyon Lake Dam.

Catching a rainbow trout from the bank at Camp Huaco Springs.
Jerry Clayton / Texas Public Radio

Back at Camp Huaco Springs, trout angler Bruce Hara from Leon Springs said he thinks Texas is doing a great job providing opportunities for fishing year-round.

“Texas has a tremendous program that allows for restocking, fishing, enforcement of limits and those kinds of things. And so fishing is nearly guaranteed for generations to come,” said Hara

And what does he like best about rainbow trout?

They’re just yummy.”

To fish for trout, anglers need a valid Texas fishing license. Anglers under the age of 17 are not required to have a license. TPWD maintains a list of scheduled trout stockings, as well as fishing tips for rainbow trout on their website.

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