Texas boasts some of the finest fishing hotspots in the U.S. With a sweltering climate that doesn’t deter the adventurous, the South Central region becomes an angler’s paradise. The 377-mile coastline stretching along the Gulf of Mexico, coupled with over 6,736 lakes, reservoirs, and 36 rivers, offers plenty of fishing opportunities in the Lone Star State.
As a seasoned fisherman, I’ve always fantasized about reeling in a catch from the Gulf Coast, known for its giant catfish, bass, and crappie species. My grandfather landed many prize-winning catfish in these waters. However, it’s important to note you need a license to fish in any U.S. state. After some thorough investigation into fishing licenses, here’s what I discovered:
- Resident all-water fishing license: $40.00
- Resident saltwater fishing package: $35.00
- Resident freshwater fishing license: $30.00
- Non-resident all-water fishing license: $68.00
- Non-resident 1-day fishing license: $16.00 (source)
To learn more, here’s a link to the Texas website.
Does Texas Have Free Fishing?
Yes, Texas does have a free fishing day, which is usually the first Saturday of June, and in 2023 it will be on June 3. On this day, you can fish without fishing endorsements or licenses; therefore, it is the best time to try fishing for the first time.
You can also enjoy free fishing in the many state parks in Lone Star State without a license, but you will pay an entry fee. Remember, even if fishing in the state parks is free, you must adhere to all the other regulations like bag limits and length.
You don’t need an endorsement and license to fish in all the water in the park or within the state park’s properties. (source)
The state waters are open to everyone, including the non-residents, during the free fishing day.
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TYpes of Fishing License in Texas
Other than on the free fishing days and when fishing in the state parks, everyone over 17 years old needs a license to fish in all the public waters in Texas. The state has a wide range of fishing licenses that vary in price, duration, and age requirements. The cost will vary depending on whether you’re a resident or not.
On top of the fishing license, you must purchase a freshwater or saltwater endorsement. These endorsements can come in handy if you plan fishing mussels, crayfish, clams, and fish, among other aquatic life. Some of the most common types of fishing licenses in Texas include the following:
Generally, Texas offers two forms of fishing (saltwater and freshwater fishing). After all, it does have thousands of freshwater lakes and reservoirs. It also has a love coastline along the Gulf of Mexico. Therefore, you need a senior, non-resident, or resident freshwater fishing license to explore these reservoirs and lakes. On top of these licenses, you’ll also require a freshwater endorsement.
These are annual licenses; if you love hunting, you can get a freshwater license bundled with hunting privileges. Texans can purchase a combo package for seniors for $16.00 and residents for adults between 17 and 64 years for $50.00.
Download the Texas Fishing Regulations 👉 Texas Fishing Regulations PDF
Saltwater Fishing Licenses
To cast a line in the Gulf of Mexico or any Texas saltwater a regular license AND a saltwater fishing endorsement is required. (source)
You can purchase a combo saltwater hunting and fishing permit if you love hunting. Unfortunately, the combo package is unavailable for non-residents, and seniors can get a combo package.
You can purchase an annual all-water fishing license to explore marine and freshwater lakes. Fortunately, you won’t need an endorsement when you buy this license. There are three types of all-water fishing licenses for both residents and non-residents. These licenses include:
- Senior resident all-water fishing permit (unfortunately, they don’t have one for non-residents)
- All water fishing licenses (resident and non-residents license)
- One-day all-water fishing licenses (resident and non-resident licenses)
The 1-day license will grant you fishing privileges (resident or non-resident) to explore the public waters on a selected day or the purchase date. But plan on fishing for several days. You may have to purchase several 1-day licenses that you can use on consecutive days.
All the residents can also purchase a combo all-water fishing and hunting package for adults over 17 to 64. Seniors over 65 also have a combo license to explore marine and freshwater and even hunt during specific hunting seasons.
The state has a lifetime fishing license for residents that lets you fish for your entire life in all the Texan waters. Unfortunately, you can’t purchase these licenses online or in person; you must apply for one online. The price of the lifetime fishing license is $1,000. And if you love hunting, you can get a combo lifetime license at $1,800.
You can only process lifetime licenses at the Austin headquarters or law enforcement offices. But you have to fill out an application form. (source) All lifetime licenses come with free lifetime license tags and endorsements.
If you plan to explore the Lake Texoma water from Oklahoma and Texas, you should get the Lake Texoma license. This permit is valid until the end of the current year; you won’t have to purchase an extra Oklahoma or Texas fishing license.
But senior residents won’t need this license to fish on the Oklahoma part of the lake. Remember, this license is only valid in Lake Texoma, so you will have to get a standard fishing license to fish in the water bodies in Texas.
|Combo hunting and freshwater fishing package||$50.00||N/A|
|Combo hunting and saltwater fishing package||$55.00||N/A|
|Combo hunting and all-water fishing package||$60.00||N/A|
|Combo senior hunting and freshwater fishing license||$16.00||N/A|
|Combo senior hunting and saltwater fishing license||$21.00||N/A|
|Combo senior hunting and all-water fishing license||$26.00||N/A|
|1-day Red drum tag||N/A||N/A|
|Bonus red drum tag||$3.00||$3.00|
|Freshwater fishing endorsement||$5.00||$5.00|
|Special resident all-water fishing license||$7.00||N/A|
|Freshwater fishing license||$30.00||$58.00|
|Saltwater fishing package||$35.00||$63.00|
|All-water fishing package||$40.00||$68.00|
|Senior freshwater fishing package||$12.00||N/A|
|Senior all-water fishing package||$22.00||N/A|
|Senior saltwater fishing license||$17.00||N/A|
|1-day all-water fishing license||$11.00||$16.00|
If you already know the price of the license you need, your next step should be purchasing one. Remember, the funds collected from fishing and hunting license sales help the wildlife department with its conservation efforts. Therefore, you should buy it online or in person at the wildlife headquarters offices or local vendors.
Suppose you want to save time and are nowhere near the local vendors or wildlife department offices. In that case, you can purchase your license online using the following link. Simply click this link, select your license, and pay for it using your Visa or MasterCard. After purchasing it, you can print it or simply show proof of your license using the annual outdoor app.
You can also get the license from several authorized retailers near you. You can get official fishing & hunting licenses, stamps, permits, and tags in over 1,700 locations all over Texas. (source) You can also purchase your license at the Texas State Parks and the TPWD offices.
If you can’t use the above methods, you can order one via phone (800-895-4248 from Monday to Friday between 8:00 AM and 5:00 PM CST. But you’ll have to pay an administrative fee of $5.00 for the transaction.
You can also get a fishing license from Walmart near you; all you have to do is go to the sports department and make a purchase. The price of the Walmart Texas licenses varies, with the resident saltwater package going for $35.00 and the freshwater license going for $30.00
The senior freshwater fishing package goes for $12.00. It’s similar to the price at the TPWD offices.
Like with other states, all Texan waters have rules and regulations that every angler planning on fishing there must follow. These regulations include the bag limit, correct fishing methods, and bait. It also stipulates the exact fishing season in all the water bodies in Texas.
Fortunately, you can find these regulations on the official site, so make sure you go through them before leaving your home (source).
Breaking these rules can result in a hefty fine or your license being suspended. Remember, the state has different rules and regulations for saltwater and freshwater fishing.
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Everyone (residents and non-residents) over 17 years old requires a license to fish in the public water bodies of Texas. Senior residents over 65 years will need a seniors fishing license. But kids below 16 years old are exempted from fishing licenses or permits in Texas.
All annual fishing licenses in Texas are valid from August 15 to the end of August the following year. But, short-term licenses have fixed expiry dates, while lifetime licenses are suitable for your entire life.
Besides free fishing days and in state parks, everyone needs a license to fish in most Texas water bodies. Some of the people who can fish for free in Texas include:
- Everyone born before 1931.
- Youths below 17 years old.
- Folks with fishing disabilities under the supervision of experienced anglers with permission from the family members.
- People with intellectual fishing disabilities as part of their clinically approved therapy.
No, you don’t need a fishing license to explore all the ponds on private properties. But you have to get permission from the owners or the manager. If you harvest and transport some of these fish species, you’ll need a document showing where you gathered the fish species.
Fishing without a license is considered a misdemeanor; if found, you can face fines between $25 and $4,000. And in the worst-case scenario, you may serve a jail term of 12 months. (source)
The fact that Texas offers a great fishing experience all year round doesn’t mean that every fishing spot is open to the public throughout the year. It also doesn’t mean that you can harvest any fish you want at any given time. After all, some of the most common species among anglers have a closed season. And during that time, we are only allowed to catch and release; therefore, we must plan our fishing seasons correctly. Remember, harvesting trout during the catch and release season is illegal.
So here are some of the fishing seasons in Texas that you can use to plan your next fishing trip:
Largemouth trout is a widespread species among anglers that you can find in several lakes in Texas. Most of the anglers in the region are always looking for their following trophy trout catch; fortunately, trout fishing is usually open all year round in Texas.
The best time to catch this fish is spring at the Toledo Bend, Lake Fork, and Sam Rayburn Reservoir. Getting them is easiest, particularly in March when the vast females with eggs swim near their spawning area. You can explore the waters at dawn to improve your chances of catching a huge trout.
King mackerel fishing in Texas varies yearly, but the high season is usually between April and October. The low seasons are November to December and January and March. On the other hand, you can find Spanish mackerel in Galveston at the end of summer.
Speckled Trout Fishing Season
The best time to catch this trout species is in December, particularly at Baffin Bay. So when in the area, you should try and fish for this trout in the late afternoon. The best season for speckled trout is from Late fall to early spring.
This fish can be found all year round, populating the piers, bridges, and flats. But the best time to harvest them is between March and April. When fishing the sheepshead, you should get up early when they’re active.
|Fishing species||Opening date||Closed date|
|Speckled trout||December 1||December 31|
Generally, everything is big in Texas, including the many different fish species swimming in their many water bodies. The state’s popular species include largemouth bass, catfish, alligator gar, and crappie. Fortunately, these species can be found in a considerable percentage of Texas’ waters. However, picking the best place to fish can be pretty challenging. So here are some of the best places to visit in Texas:
If you’re chasing a trophy catfish, then you should visit Conroe Lake. This lake is about an hour’s drive from Houston. The locals come here to catch a giant blue catfish for bragging rights and the channel catfish for dinner. The lake occupies 22,000 acres and has a 157 miles long shoreline. So if you love fishing, boating, and water sports, this lake should be on your bucket list.
Another most sought-after fish in the region is the largemouth bass, and you have a high likelihood of getting a trophy catch here.
If you’re looking for your next trophy largemouth, you should visit Lake Fork. Situated in eastern Texas, Lake Fork is a top fishing reservoir popular among serious bass anglers. After all, it has produced over 65% of the 50 trophy bass caught in Texas. Some factors that make it a prime fishing spot include its stocking program, natural habitat, and strict harvesting regulations.
The best place for catching white and striped bass is at Lake Buchanan. You can also find some largemouth bass in this lake. But what attracts people to this lake is the stocked bass that tends to be quite massive. The largest striped bass caught here weighed about 27.8 pounds.
For more details on where to fish in Texas, click here.
Yes, you can fish at night in Texas, but ensure you’re dressed for the occasion. Plus, the summer heat makes night fishing favorable in Texas. Anglers are known for fishing from 8:00 PM to 8:00 AM. So you can chase your following trophy catch at night. And the good thing about Texas is the moon will provide the needed light, and bass love feeding during the moon phases.
In most places, fishing happens by pole and line, so in Texas, anglers can legally use a maximum of two rods. If caught with more rods, don’t be surprised if you get a fine.
Yes, all Texans over 65 must purchase a fishing permit before casting their line in public waters. The state has a wide range of licenses for those over 65 years old. The only people exempted from getting a permit are the ones born before 1931.
- Texas park and wildlife department staff, recreational hunting, and fishing license, https://tpwd.texas.gov/business/licenses/public/recreational/index.phtml/ accessed January 29, 2023.
- Texas park and wildlife department staff, Free fishing opportunities, https://tpwd.texas.gov/regulations/outdoor-annual/licenses/fishing-licenses-stamps-tags-packages/free-fishing-opportunities/ accessed January 29, 2023.
- Texas park and wildlife department staff, Texas park, and wildlife department staff, https://tpwd.texas.gov/regulations/outdoor-annual/licenses/fishing-licenses-stamps-tags-packages/fishing-licenses-and-packages/ accessed January 29, 2023.
- Texas park and wildlife department staff, Fishing Licenses, and Packages, https://tpwd.texas.gov/regulations/outdoor-annual/licenses/lifetime-licenses/ accessed January 29, 2023.
- Texas park and wildlife department staff, Application for Texas resident lifetime license, https://tpwd.texas.gov/publications/pwdforms/media/pwd_0552_a0900_application_texas_resident_lifetime_license.pdf/ accessed January 29, 2023.
- Texas park and wildlife department staff, Official Texas hunting and fishing licenses, https://tpwd.texas.gov/business/licenses/online_sales/ accessed January 29, 2023.
- Texas park and wildlife department staff, General fishing regulations, https://tpwd.texas.gov/regulations/outdoor-annual/fishing/general-rules-regulations/general-fishing-regulations/ accessed January 29, 2023.
- Texas park and wildlife department staff, Laws, Penalties & Restitution, https://tpwd.texas.gov/regulations/outdoor-annual/fishing/general-rules-regulations/laws-penalties-restitution/ accessed January 29, 2023.