Texas Parks & Wildlife Magazine   



Target: Blue Catfish

Texas' mild winters mean good fishing for blue catfish and more


 Sonja Sommerfeld | TPWD


Cold weather means big blue catfish at Lake Waco. The lake has a slot limit to protect big blues; all blues between 30 and 45 inches must be released. One blue 45 inches or longer may be retained daily. The lake record is an 84-plus-pound behemoth.

Fish with large (8/0 to 10/ 0) circle hooks to help with unhooking (so slot fish can be released easier). Bait up with cut shad or other fresh-cut bait. As with many winter catfish hot spots, fish shallower on sunny days. Look for shallow flats warmed by the sun; they could be full of baitfish.

 Larry Ditto


This lake is known for blue catfish success in winter months, with a record of nearly 75 pounds.

Located southeast of Wichita Falls off U.S. Highway 281, the 14,000-plus acres offer good depth for winter catfish hangouts. Graph for schools of shad to determine the depth to fish for the day.

On warmer days, move shallow. Try drifting with lightest-possible weight but make bottom contact.

Expert tip: Look for cormorant roosts in trees on the upper part of the reservoir. The waste dropped into the water by cormorants attracts catfish. (This applies to other lakes, too.)

 Engbretson Underwater Photo


Lake Corpus Christi’s white bass “run” is highly anticipated each winter. Located in the Nueces River watershed 20 miles northwest of its namesake, Lake Corpus Christi has a surface area of 18,256 acres and a maximum depth of 60 feet. The white bass begin congregating in the main lake near the mouth of the Nueces River channel in December. They frequent that area until late February or early March, when they will make the spawning run up the river.

Although live minnows are popular baits, anglers can also use small lipless crankbaits, shad raps, small spinnerbaits or in-line spinners, small plastic twister-tail “grubs” and other minnow-imitating artificial lures.



Another favorite winter fishing species is crappie, which attracts anglers to 2,375-acre Oak Creek Reservoir in Coke County. About 8 miles north of Bronte on Texas Highway 70, the small lake has a maximum depth of 51 feet.

Many crappie are caught at fishing piers, in submerged timber along the river channel and along the pilings at the Highway 70 bridge, says TPWD’s Lynn Wright. Crappie are caught with standard fare of minnows and small jigs fished along steep drop-offs and rock ledges.

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