Winter fishing – where to go and what's biting

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White hot winter fishing

Why fishing in cold weather is awesome!

Barring the need for warm weather gear and a thermos full of your favorite hot beverage, fishing in cold weather doesn’t have to be uncomfortable — and in fact it has some definite benefits.

4 Reasons Cold Weather Fishing is Hot

BIGGER FISH – Some of the biggest spotted seatrout, bass and red drum are caught when the weather is the coldest.

FISH GATHER TOGETHER – Fish tend to be much more concentrated, and when you find them, fishing can be over-the-top good.

LESS CROWDED – You may have the water more or less to yourself. If you’re fishing on a lake, it’s likely there will be fewer boaters which means less wake and less noise.

WEATHER IS BEARABLE – The burning hot sun, mosquitoes and bugs are not an issue.

Best places to fish in cold weather

Freshwater Spots

Fayette Lake bass fishing

Power plant lakes These offer good fishing in colder weather months, especially for catfish and bass. Power generation warms the water and provides current, which makes the fish more active. Some of the more popular power plant lakes are: Martin Creek Lake, Lake WelshFayette County, Calaveras LakeBraunig Lake, Coleto Creek, and Brandy Branch. Read more on power plant lake fishing in Texas Parks & Wildlife magazine.

Bass hotspots – Lake Fork (east of Dallas-Fort Worth and near Emory) is famous for largemouth bass, especially in February. The Colorado River, east of Austin, is also a great river fishery. Warmer winter days can produce good numbers of largemouth and Guadalupe bass. Lake Raven in Huntsville State Park has produced excellent largemouth bass all year and promises to have a good showing this winter. 

Top rainbow trout fishing locations – The Canyon Tailrace on the Guadalupe River below Canyon Lake is well known for incredible river fishing. Neighborhood Fishin’ lakes are stocked every two weeks with rainbow trout. To find a stocked waterbody near you, visit the rainbow trout stocking schedule.

Hot Tip

Find out what’s biting, where, and on what type of bait – in the free weekly fishing reports. Search by region or waterbody (lakes, rivers or bays). You can also sign up to get an email or text as soon as the reports are released each week.

Saltwater Spots

Laguna Madre kayak anglers

Winter fishing along the coast can be epic! The wind is usually calmer and water clarity peaks, making sight fishing better. The Lower Laguna Madre is the place to go.

Brazos Santiago Pass – Located between the jetties, this is a deep-water area frequently overlooked in the winter. On calm days, you’ll find schools of reds and southern flounder within the channel.

The Flats – If you overlook the flats in the winter, you'll be missing out! Deep passes, like those between the causeways, hold fish all winter long. In fact, most any flat over three feet deep will hold fish unless the water becomes frigid.

Artificial Reefs – Red snapper, the most sought after offshore game fish in Texas Gulf waters, thrive around artificial reef sites. There are 11 reef sites with accessible nearshore fishing opportunities where snapper harvest is open year-round.

Hot Tip

Consider hiring a guide if you are unfamiliar with the area. Guides can make your trip more fun (and successful) as they’ll share techniques, show you the best places to fish, tell you about the local area species, and most importantly, make sure your trip is a safe one. 

Best cold weather fish

Rainbow trout

Rainbow trout: We stock rainbow trout big enough to keep and eat in over 180 fresh waterbodies, including 18 Neighborhood Fishin’ lakes, which are especially good for beginning anglers and children.


Spotted Seatrout

Spotted seatrout: They seek warmer water during cold snaps but move into the flats as water temperature rises. (Ditto for red drum. Plus, the spot and stalk strategy for chasing red drum is ideal for winter).

Blue catfish

Blue catfish reach enormous proportions and are especially popular from December to February. Lake Tawakoni, east of Dallas-Fort Worth, is a favorite place for blues.

Hot Tip

In cold water, fish have a slower metabolism and can be sluggish. But they still have to feed! To get them to bite, try new lures or leave your bait in place longer to give them time to react. 

Don't Forget Your License

Pull on your winter woollies, grab your bait and gear and enjoy a great cold-weather fishing trip. But don't forget your fishing license! You can get 1-day, all-water fishing access for as little as $11. But if you plan to fish more than 3 times this year, an annual license is the best bang for your buck!

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