Stocking rainbow trout in Texas starts at Neighborhood Fishin’ Lakes

The day before Thanksgiving marks the beginning of “rainbow trout season” in Texas.

The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department began releasing rainbow trout annually at 18 Neighborhood Fishin’ Lakes in the state, including four in the Houston area.

Burke Crenshaw Park in Pasadena, Community Park Lake in Missouri City, Mary Jo Peckham Park in Katy and Herman Little Park in Spring were scheduled to receive supplies on Wednesday and several more through March 3. The four parks are scheduled for eight stockings each over the winter, except for Mary Jo Peckham Park, which will get an additional stocking on Jan. 13 for a total of nine. The park will also catch more fish than any of the state’s other Neighborhood Fishin’ Lakes, with more than 6,300 trout expected.

Neighborhood Fishin’ Lakes are regularly supplied through a partnership between cities and TPWD. These locations get slightly larger trout than the 8- to 10-inch fish stocked statewide. Approximately 42,000 trout, most between 10 and 12 inches, will be placed in Neighborhood Fishin’ Lakes across Texas.

Other notable stockings in the Houston area include Burroughs Park in Tomball (January 15 and 12), Beaver Pond in Cypress Creek Park (December 21), George Bush Park in Katy (January 13), Kickerillo-Mischer Preserve (Dec. January 15 and January 12), Eisenhower Park (January 10 and February 8), Arthur Storey Park (January 13), Eldridge Park at Sugar Land (January 19), Carl Barton Jr. Park in Conroe (January 19). February 4 and 2), Mont Belvieu City Park (January 29), Carver Park Lake in Texas City (February 7), and more.

Fifteen state parks will be stocked this winter, including Houston’s Sheldon State Park (Children’s Pond #1 on December 13 and January 11) and Fort Boggy State Park near Centerville (December 12 and February 27).

TPWD plans to store approximately 338,000 trout at 204 locations in Texas. There will be over 400 stocking events, with many sites scheduled for multiple stockings.

Of all the storage sites in Texas, one stands out from the crowd: the Guadalupe River.

The tailrace below the dam at Canyon Lake is the pinnacle of rainbow trout fishing in Texas. As the southernmost freshwater trout fishery in the United States, the Guadalupe River is seeing fishing begin to pick up just as many of the country’s other trout fishing destinations are cooling down. It is a popular spot for lifelong trout anglers and newcomers alike.

The release schedule on the Guadalupe River will be different this season due to maintenance on the Canyon Lake Dam floodgates.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will begin replacing lock gates on December 5. Low-flow discharges (55 to 95 cubic feet per second) could affect the river during the maintenance window, which is scheduled through April 15, according to USACE. On days when workers will be in charge, flows will be completely shut off for up to 10 hours. During the next 14 hours there will be catch-up releases.

The USACE’s schedule, subject to change, for full shutdowns while employees are in charge: December 7-8, January 7-21, January 31-February. February 6, February 10-11, March 2-18, March 29-April 1, and April 7.

TPWD has changed the spawning schedule for this season to allow for dam maintenance.

“We used to have stock through December and January, not February. That’s not the case this year,” says Carl Kittel, who leads the stocking program for TPWD.

“We’re skipping some stockings in December and January and doing more in February to spread it out over the maintenance work that’s going to be done.”

The increase in stockings this February is great news for attendees of Troutfest TX, Guadalupe River Chapter of Trout Unlimited’s annual weekend jamboree at Lazy L&L Campground in New Braunfels. The 2023 edition is from February 17-19. TPWD will supply the Guad on consecutive dates, the 16th and 17th.

The expo portion of Troutfest TX is on February 18th from 9pm to 5pm and February 19th from 10pm to 4pm. The expo includes fly-throwing classes, local food and drink, expert presentations on a variety of fishing topics, and booths for fly shops, outfitters, equipment makers, and more.

TPWD will release more than 20,000 rainbow trout in the Guad this season. Typically, GRTU will stock 20,000 pounds of much larger rainbows, about 16-17 inches.

The Guadalupe River has two zones of special regulations. The first begins 2,500 feet downstream from the Canyon Lake Dam and extends to the East Bridge on FM 306. Anglers in this section are only allowed to keep trout under 12 inches and over 6 inches. The bag limit is still five, but there are only one may be caught. 18 inches or longer. The second zone is from that second bridge on FM 306 downstream to the second bridge crossing on River Road. The minimum length in that stretch is 18 inches (45 cm) and only one trout may be kept.

Elsewhere statewide, the daily bag limit is five fish with no minimum length requirement.

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