It’s one of the state’s best-kept secrets, but every year as the water temperatures start to get good and cold, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department stock trout in various locations across the state.
The TPWD is stocking 343,650 rainbow trout across the state this season, and nearby Weatherford’s Holland Lake Park and the Possum Kingdom Tailrace are stops on the trout truck’s route this year. The Tailrace in Graford is expected to be three times this year and had fish dropped there in Nov. and again Dec. 19. A third stocking will take place Jan. 2, 2020 bringing the total fish stocked at PK to 9,000.
Holland Lake Park will also have three stockings, but the much smaller body of water will only have 2,000 fish supplied. Holland Lake’s next two stockings will occur Jan. 1 and Feb. 6, 2020.
Due to the cold-nature of trout (waters above 70 degrees are deadly for them), there are only two locations in Texas where an angler can catch trout year-round, and the closest to the Mineral Wells area is more than four hours away at the Canyon Tailrace on the Guadalupe River.
Traveling four hours to introduce the kids to trout fishing is a little too extreme for most folks, so that makes the Texas trout stocking a great opportunity without lots of travel and expense involved.
If you know how to fish for perch and other panfish, you are halfway to a “degree” in trout fishing, and chances are you have plenty of tackle and hooks for catching these little prize-fighters. A three-pound trout is about the equivalent of catching an eight-pound large-mouth bass, except the trout is much faster.
You shouldn’t expect to catch three-pound trout in Texas as most trout range in the 10-12 inch range, but there have been reports of larger fish being stocked, including a 2.5-pounder in Weatherford two years ago.
Smaller fish means using lighter tackle, and an ultra-light pole with a 2-6 pound test line is ideal for trout fishing. If you are fishing with bait, the hooks should range from #4-8 for long shanks and #10-12 in circle hooks.
Your bait can be anything from corn to earthworms to a variety of dough baits in a multitude of colors and flavors. If it’s your first time, buy some corn or Velveeta cheese, and nobody has to handle those earthworms. Salmon eggs are another trout favorite and also have a wide range of choices and flavors.
Trout are sensitive eaters, much like catfish, and will often come in and pick up a bait and give it a taste. If you try and set the hook too soon, all you will end up with is an empty hook.
If you like to fish with a bobber, go with the smallest one you can find. Many people prefer fishing with a bobber, but it’s not always the most effective method for landing trout.
If you want to fish on the bottom, use a 1/8-ounce barrel weight that will let the line slide through it so when the trout picks up your rig, the fish feels only the bait. Leave a slightly slack line so you can see it start to tighten and try to avoid the temptation of going for that first pull. You can rest your pole in a holder or with a forked stick, but watch out because trout can make a pole disappear in a heartbeat.
Again like catfish, trout will sometimes bite the instant your bait hits bottom, and you will catch fish after fish, and at other times, you might be out there chanting, “here fishy, fishy, fishy” over and over to no avail. If you are going to use bait for fishing, it’s a good idea to carry a few different choices because trout can be finicky.
If you want to experience the real power of these small fish, try your hand at using an artificial lure. You don’t have to buy fancy lures or worry about fly fishing to get the enjoyment of a trout’s strike.
Small spinnerbaits (Panther Martin), Kastmasters, Rapala medium depth swimmers and other trolling lures work well with trout. Attaching these lures to a 2-6-pound test line and an ultra-light fishing pole provide the best fishing experience because the lighter lures won’t cast far off the bank with heavy line dragging them down.
Don’t be afraid to loosen the drag and take your time getting the fish to shore. Many times the fish will leave the water (often more than once) in an attempt to shake the hook and adds to the fun. The 8.2-pound trout accompanying this article was caught with a four-pound test line.
Trout are the easiest of fish to clean, prepare, and cook. They don’t require scaling, and a slice from the throat to the anal fin is all that is needed to clean out the fish. There is also a small line of blood along the spine that needs to be cleaned out.
Some people say leaving the head on the fish adds flavor while others lean towards a little less shock value and leave themselves more room in the skillet with quick and easy removal.
Salt, pepper and a butter your favor skillet and turn the burner to medium heat is the best skillet method. When the skin starts to peel off the meat, the fish is done. Serve with lemon and watch for the small bones. The oven and the BBQ grill work well too and there are a large number of recipes to choose from on the internet.
Other than having a fishing license, there are no special stamps required to fish for trout in Texas. A fishing license is not required in state park areas; however, parks and community fishing lakes (CFL) do have a no more than a two-pole requirement.
Anglers are limited to five fish per day, and there is no size requirement. Unharmed fish may be returned to the water for others to enjoy. The colder the weather, Here is the URL to the 2019-20 Texas trout stocking schedule.