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Rainbow trout releases in the Highland Lakes

As winter descends on the Highland Lakes, so do rainbow trout. Hundreds of thousands of the coveted coldwater fish will be released into Texas rivers and lakes beginning Nov. 23 thanks to the monumental efforts of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department.

The rainbow trout is a native of the Rockies, but its range stretches from Alaska to Mexico — with a brief expansion into Texas in the winter. They have a tough time surviving in warm water, so they're released between late fall and early spring to give them a fighting chance and anglers ample opportunities.

While bass reign supreme in Texas, they tend to slow down in the winter, leaving a fishing "hole" that has been filled by rainbow trout.

“TPWD stocks catchable-sized fish during winter months to create unique winter angling opportunities throughout Texas,” said Rainbow Trout Program Director Carl Kittel in a department media release. “Rainbow trout love cold water and can be caught on a variety of baits and lures (worms, commercially available pastes, corn, spinners, spoons, flies and more), and are great to take home and eat.”

These beautiful fish typically reach up to 16 pounds in their home range; however, they're a lot smaller in Texas. The state record is just over 8 pounds. Regardless of size, fresh rainbows are known as some of the best eating fish in the United States.

The TPWD rainbow trout stocking program has been going strong for more than 40 years, giving Lone Star State anglers a taste of mountain river fishing.

Don’t miss your chance at catching a rainbow this winter at the following release sites in the Highland Lakes area. The TPWD has a full list of locations, dates, and regulations/requirements online.

Blanco State Park

101 Park Road 23, Blanco

WHEN: Dec. 2 and 16, 2022; Jan. 4 and 27, 2023


Hamilton Creek Park

1001 Buchanan Drive, Burnet

WHEN: Jan. 3, 2023


Castell General Store

19522 RR 152 West, Castell

WHEN: Dec. 6, 2022


Rules and Regulations

  • Ages 17 and older need a valid Texas Freshwater Fishing License (no license needed when fishing at a Texas State Park)
  • Daily bag limit is 5 rainbow trout (no size limit!)
  • Make sure you don’t trespass on private property

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