The freshwater lakes, ponds, and rivers of the Lonestar state are highly populated with a multitude of fish species. As an angler targeting the Texas waters, you should familiarize yourself with the various Texas fish species to learn about their habitat, diet, behavior, and more. This will give you insights when making critical decisions such as where to fish, presentation techniques, and bait type. This article highlights the top 25 Texas fish species and where to find them.
Whether you’re a newbie angler or seasoned game fishing enthusiast, the state of Texas offers some outstanding freshwater fishing opportunities! Besides highlighting the popular fish species you’ll likely find in Texas waters, we’ve included fishing tips, locations, and Texas state fishing regulations to take note of.
How Many Fish Species Are there in Texas?
There are about 25,000 species of fish in the oceans, lakes, and rivers of the United States and Canada. Of those, 790 species are known from the freshwater of the United States and Canada. Texas is home to 174 species of fish.
Top 25 Texas Fish Species
These top 25 Texas game fish species are by no means complete, but they include species you’ll find in most parts of the state.
1. Largemouth Bass
Texas is home to many species of fish in the Bass family. These include largemouth, smallmouth, spotted, and white bass. The largemouth bass is the largest of the five species in the Bass family. They include smallmouth, white, hybrid, and spotted bass. It is believed that only striped and white bass are truly bass species, but other fishes are actually in the panfish family.
It is no secret that the largemouth bass is one of Texas’s most popular fish species. It is possible that it is even the most common fish species in the whole state. Largemouth bass from Florida was stocked in many of the state’s major reservoirs decades ago. Some of the biggest Florida largemouth basses have been caught in Texas lakes.
Texas has a state record for largemouth bass at 18.18 pounds. Fish anglers usually target largemouth bass in the large lake and river systems, but largemouth bass is quite common in creeks and farms. If you look closely at all of our Texas lakes, you will see many largemouth basses. Top lakes in Texas include Lake Fork, Lake Conroe, Lake Sam Rayburn, Lake Texoma, and Lake Travis.
2. Smallmouth Bass
Smallmouth bass fishing is very popular in Texas. They can reach weights of up to 30 pounds! Although smallmouth bass is quite common in Texas, they are not as prevalent as their big cousins. Smallmouth bass likes to swim in cool, clear water, which is common in the northern side of the state. Smallmouth bass is very attracted to running water, making them an excellent quarry for anglers who fish streams and rivers.
Cool, clear lakes and reservoirs with good water clarity will also hold a decent number of smallmouth bass. Lake Merideth, Belton Lake, Lake Texoma, Amistad Lake, and Devils River are among the best places to fish for smallmouth bass in Texas. Texas holds a record for the largest smallmouth bass at 7.93 pounds.
It doesn’t get much more Texas than the saltwater fish that are native to the state of Texas. Redfish, also known as red drum, are a favorite of many inshore fishermen in Texas because of their beautiful colors and wonderful food qualities. Redfish are an excellent way to experience Texas. They are big, beautiful, and have a wonderful flavor. If you want to experience Texas fishing with a rod and reel, head to the coast and try fishing for redfish in some of the many inshore waters.
Gigging flounder has become quite controversial, but it’s a method that has been used since the 1700s. Native Americans started the practice of spearing fish in the 15th century by using sharpened stalks of cane and torches to spear them. The traditional way of catching flounder is still very popular today, but the fishing equipment has improved tremendously over the years. Using a rod and reel to catch flounders is a good way to catch them because you can catch them in much deeper water. If you choose to fish for flounder in your boat, they are very easy to catch.
5. Striped Bass
This very popular fish is a favorite among anglers in Texas and brings some great saltwater fishing to the state’s inland waters. Striped bass is very strong and can go through some crazy fights. Striped bass can easily reach 53 pounds in the Texas State Fishing Record Book. This is incredible for freshwater species. These fish will chew hard bait both in the water surface and the depths, making fishing the best in the country.
Lake Texoma on the Texas and Oklahoma border is the only place that sustains large numbers of striped bass and produces some exceptionally large fish. These fish are mild white fish that are perfect for a light meal or just eating by themselves. They are becoming increasingly popular as dinner food every year.
6. Yellowfin Tuna
Fishing in Texas has been part of the economy for a long time, and now oil plays a big role in the fishing industry. Oil platforms are the perfect structure for holding the huge baitfish that yellowfin tuna love to eat. Big yellowfin tuna are attracted to large oil platforms that are brightly lit during the night, causing them to have a feeding frenzy and allowing anglers to get a great hook and take the big fish.
These tough fish can grow up to 400 lbs and are one of the biggest fish that can be caught. Catching a huge yellowfin tuna is a very difficult challenge that tests the skills and endurance of any angler.
7. Wahoo (Texas Torpedo)
Wahoos are one of the fastest fish species in the sea and are nicknamed the Texas Torpedo because they hit speeds up to 60 mph. They are delicious and easily caught. This fish can grow to 4 feet in length and can do speeds of up to 60 mph. They are powerful eaters and will eat everything you throw at them. Fish that can easily break up your lures and devour them at a speed of over 60 mph are a favorite among anglers across the state.
Wahoos are not very heavy, weighing only 25 pounds, but they are extremely tough and will keep you on your toes. Their incredible length is what gives them their big-hearted attitude. A large wahoo can reach a length of almost 4 feet. Its white meat is firm and flaky, making for a tasty meal.
8. Alligator Gar
Alligator gar is the biggest fish in the Texas River system. They can grow to over 289 pounds and are very fierce. They look like something out of a horror movie, and they are easily scared and easily scared. They have very long mouths and very large teeth, which make them look intimidating.
Alligator gars are very big and can live up to 50 years, which is surprisingly long for a fish. This fish has been around for 100 million years and has developed good adaptations to live in different environments. It is not unusual for anglers to try to capture one with a rod and reel or a bow and arrow.
9. Red Snapper
Red snapper is a popular fish in Texas and is easy to catch. So head to the reefs or structures to drop the bait, and then just sit back and watch for a bite. This fish can be caught all year round in Texas waters, and while the federal fishing season lasts all summer, there are plenty of good spots to catch one.
Anglers of all ages enjoy fishing for red snapper because they are very easy to catch. Red snapper can grow to large sizes, with the state record set last year being 38 pounds. However, red snappers live so deep that getting them on the boat can be a struggle.
10. Texas Catfish
Catfish fishing is probably the most popular fishing activity in Texas. Most waters in Texas have catfish in them. Setting out a few chicken livers or other stink bait and waiting for a while to see what catfish they will catch is a very popular way to spend a relaxing day on the water.
Texas is the home of large numbers of flathead, channel, and blue catfish that live in almost every pond, lake, and river in the state. Low tackle requirements and a relaxing approach to fishing for catfish are some of the most enjoyable ways of spending time on the water.
11. Speckled Trout
Although there isn’t as much time spent fishing for speckled trout, the local fishing community is full of good spirits. They are also great for casting from piers stacked with other fish or quietly working flats untouched by the fishing pressure.
Fishing in the Lower Laguna Madre is some of the best in the world, and it is also where you can catch the state record of 16 pounds of speckled trout. Many anglers never catch a large brown trout, but if you head to Texas, you will have a greater chance.
12. Texas Spotted Bass
Spotted bass resembles largemouth bass in size and behavior, but they are more like smallmouth bass in terms of habits. They don’t grow as large and are usually found in schools that are grouped together to swim over structures such as submerged islands and channel edges. Texas has a state record for the largest spotted bass in the state at 5.56 pounds. It is very common to see spotted bass in lakes with largemouth and smallmouth bass.
Bluegills are the most recognizable among many different fish species. They are very aggressive and will strike hard when hooked. They will live in just about any lake or reservoir, as long as the water isn’t too cold. Besides, bluegills are very aggressive and will strike hard, even tiny lures.
Bluegills are usually caught by fly fisherman who have developed very convincing-looking flies and poppers. Baiting with worms and crickets is also very productive. Texas bluegills weigh in at a whopping 2.02 pounds.
Along with bluegill, a person fishing in Texas can also fish for other species of sunfish. Included in this group are redear sunfish (sometimes known as shell crackers), redbreast sunfish, green sunfish, warmouth, and long air sunfish. Some sunfish are more invasive than others but are very common and easily found in shallow water and along shell bottom. Red sunfish is the largest and most desirable of all sunfish. The state record is 2.99 pounds for a red sunfish.
Carp were once considered waste fish but are now considered very valuable by more and more anglers. Sometimes it can be frustratingly difficult to catch them, and they can get quite large. Texas holds the record for biggest carp at 43.75 pounds. Most anglers catch them while fishing for corn, though they also use worms and other commercial baits. They are caught when the water is very still in many rivers and lakes. Unfortunately, fish that are hard to catch and very large are not considered good to eat.
16. White Bass
White bass is part of the large family of fish called the Bass family. White bass is a small cousin of striped bass. Texas has a large population of white bass. White bass is found in lakes and rivers. They migrate up to tributaries of larger rivers to spawn. However, they don’t grow very big; the Texas state record stands at 5.56 pounds. But, what white bass lack in size, they make up for in being tenacious and aggressive. They are often caught when they are located feeding on the water surface.
17. Freshwater Striped Bass
Striped bass is a very good fish to find in Texas lakes. They have been introduced successfully to many lakes. These are unusual fish species capable of living in saltwater and freshwater environments. They live well in open waters and in reservoirs.
Fishing for striped bass is very common in Texas lakes and rivers. Anglers trolling for striped bass usually fish with live bait, particularly herring. Anglers also catch plenty of fish using artificial lures. The state record is 53 pounds for striped bass. The top lakes in Texas are Lakes Texoma and Tawakoni, along with Lakes Buchanan, Amistad, and Guadalupe River.
18. Hybrid Striped Bass
Hybrid bass is a mixture of white bass and striped bass. They are called many things across the country, including hybrids and wipers. They are sterile fish, and they grow very quickly. Hybrid bass is aggressive and can hold their own against other fish species. Fishing for striped bass in lakes with good populations of these fish is very beneficial for catching hybrid bass. Texas holds the state record for a hybrid bass at 19.66 pounds.
19. Channel Catfish
Catfish species are very plentiful and readily available in Texas. They are the tiniest of the three catfish species in the world and are only about 5 pounds. However, catfish can grow large, reaching up to 36.50 pounds. Channel catfish are caught on a variety of baits, including worms, jerk bait, and artificial baits. They are typically found in ponds, lakes, and rivers.
20. Blue Catfish
Blue catfish were introduced into Texas lakes, ponds, and rives to provide trophy-sized fish for anglers to catch. These are aggressive species that have very big appetites. Blue catfish are found in large reservoirs and streams. Catfish feed on bait fish, with herring and shad being the top lures. Anglers bait the fish with fresh cuts of live bait such as herring and suckers. Blue catfish are very large and can weigh as much as 121.50 pounds.
21. Flathead Catfish
Flathead catfish, sometimes known as yellow catfish, are extremely large fish. Their state record is 98.50 pounds. Texas holds the record for the biggest flathead catfish at 98.50 pounds. Flathead catfish are shyer than other catfish species but enjoy slow-moving, still waters. Flathead catfish prefer slow-moving sluggish rivers and are easily caught in shallow water. The best bait to use is a live sunfish. Most of the big flathead catfish are caught by anglers who are specifically fishing for them.
22. Texas Panfish
Panfish are very popular with anglers all over the United States, and Texas is no exception. Weather and water conditions in Texas are very conducive to breeding good numbers of large panfish. These fish include crappie, bluegill, and a number of sunfish. They are truly game fish when caught using small baits and light tackle. Panfish are fantastic fish to eat, which is a huge part of their appeal.
The crappie is one of the largest members of the panfish family. There are two main types of crappie: white crappie and black crappie. There are slight differences between the two, but it is good practice to use both. Although there are slight differences between these two species, we will group them together for the purposes of this list. Several lakes in Texas have good crappie populations, including Coleto Creek, White Lock, Conroe, Granger, Twin Buttes, Sam Rayburn, and Lake Fork.
Anglers are now using longer rods for fishing for crappie. It is very efficient to quickly cover a lot of water while still trying to catch some fish. It is also called spider rigging by anglers. Anglers typically use live minnows and small jigs to catch crappie. The state record for white crappie is 4.56 pounds; for black crappie, it is 3.92 pounds.
Gar is another fish that is gaining more and more respect as the years go by. Alligator gar are very big fish; the Texas state record for alligator gar is 279 pounds. Gar are found in many different rivers in Texas, including the alligator gar, the short nose gar, and the spotted gar. Fishing for giant gars requires big, heavy tackle and lots of large fish bait. Those who want to fish in slow-moving rivers like the Trinity River are very fortunate.
Walleye have been extensively stocked in Texas lakes and reservoirs to increase their numbers. Perch are also species from the Great Lakes region, and many people who love them live there. Walleye are becoming more abundant in some of the great lakes and reservoirs in Texas where they have been stocked. Walleye may not be the greatest fighters in the world, but they are some of the best-tasting fish that swim. Anglers try to catch them while dragging live nightcrawlers or trolling with plastic plugs. The Texas state record weight for a walleye is 11.88 pounds.
What is a game fish in Texas?
Fish that are deemed game fish by the National Parks and Wildlife Service include bass, catfish, crappie, dolphin, marlin, mackerel, mako, pickerel, sailfish, sea trout, shark, tarpon, and walleye.
What kind of fish can you catch off the Texas coast?
Deeper sea waters on the coast that stretch into the Gulf of Mexico often produce the popular red snapper and several other types of snapper, tarpon, grouper, mackerel, amberjack, and shark. Fishing close to shore can yield many fish species, including black drums, red drums, and the popular spotted seatrout.
Are there barracuda in Texas?
Cudas are common on offshore platforms and wrecks sunk into the water. Cuda has never seen or landed on any of the Texas jetties, but it could happen if there were a lot of water there. Are there any offshore platforms in our state waters? No problem. There are plenty of them.
Is there bluegill in Texas?
As a result of numerous intentional and unintentional introductions, you can find bluegill throughout the US as well as northern Mexico. Bluegills are found throughout the state of Texas.
Besides the 25 Texas gamefish species we’ve highlighted here, the Lonestar state is endowed with countless fish species that every angler would enjoy catching. Hopefully, this list will help you catch more fish in Texas the next time you venture out for a thrilling fishing expedition!