In the Texas Hill Country the options for fishing include bass, catfish, stripper, crappie, perch, and believe it or not, rainbow trout. For those of you without a boat, there are many great options to enjoy the water and catch a few nice fish. Here are a few of my favorite spots in and around the Austin Area.
Mansfield Dam Bridge
Below Mansfield dam sits a free state park and my favorite spot to fish from my car in the Texas Hill Country. The park features a sizable bridge that spans the Colorado River at head of Lake Austin. Officially, one is forbidden to fish or jump off the bridge, but these rules are rarely enforced. The park does close at dark and this rule is enforced.
The top of Lake Austin’s water is very cold as it’s being let out of Mansfield dam from the bottom of Lake Travis. While refreshing, I can only swim in it for a few minutes at a time. The park features numerous park benches, grills, and has a very small boat ramp for kayaks and canoes.
As far as places you can fish without a boat, this spot is tough to beat. This section of Lake Austin holds a healthy population of modest size large mouth bass. If the water is flowing from the dam, the bite can be really good. We rarely fail to catch at least one keeper during these times. When the water isn’t flowing it can be a slow during the day. Unfortunately , the LCRA (Lower Colorado River Authority), will not publish these release times. But the water flows most days starting around early afternoon and typically last for a few hours. This can vary depending on rain and other factors. This is one of Austin’s diamond in the rough and one of my favorite summer Texas Hill County destinations. If you have a boat, the rest of Lake Austin is a quality fishing lake for bass during the week. During the weekend the small lake gets over crowded with boat and jet skies and the chop can get absurd.
Mansfield Dam Park
Located on Lake Travis, the Boat Ramp on the Top side of the Dam is a state park with a swimming hole, and not many good places to fish. In years past you could fish off the doc at the boat ramp and catch some nice bass. They posted a no fishing sign and enforce the rule these days. There is a fee if you drive into the park, but there is a free place to park just before the entry gate, and you can walk into the park for free.
Mansfield Dam is just one of many places to fish lake Austin. In year of past, this was a great bass lake. But the carp have invaded and decimated much of the grasslands the bass loved so much. Boo Hoo. It has had a major effect on the quality of bass fishing in Lake Austin.
Fritz Hughes Park
First stop on the Colorado and Lake Austin is a small “park” that is really more of a boat ramp. It’s located at the bottom of Steiner Ranch and right next to a fancy spa. This was the first place I ever took a kayak to fish, and I ended up dumping the kayay most of the day, so never found out if the fishing is any good. Not a very good place to relax and fish from the shore, but a good place to get away from the crowd in a kayak or boat. It located very close to the Dam bridge park via boat, not too close via car.
Commons Ford Ranch
Next stop of the river is a modest size Grass field where the water can still be a little cold, but refreshing for swimming a little longer that at the bridge. It’s located just outside of Westlake on the South side of the Lake Austin and is free of charge. The boat ramp is not accessible by car, so it can only be used for kayaks and canoes. There is typical a crown drinking beer and causing a mild amount of shenanigans at this place.
A large state park with camping, motorcycle trails, playgrounds, a boat ramp, and all the other stuff you find in large lake parks. There is a fee to access the park and it is located on the North side of Lake Austin.
Also know as the 360 Bridge, this state park in right in the middle Lake Austin and is the major boat ramp for the lake. It can be a zoo to launch your boat here, and not the best of places for the kayak or bank fishing, but some you can do both.
At the very end of the Colorado River and Lake Austin there is a nice boat ramp hiding in the middle of the bar and condos. In the big boat, I normally just launch at the Penny Backer as to avoid traffic, but during the week it can be a great place to launch the kayak and hit some nice bass fishing while surrounded by phat riverfront mansions.
Lady Bird Lake
The lake that runs through downtown Austin is a pretty good fishing lake, but I would never eat any fish that I caught here. You can only access this lake via non-powered boat, like a canoe. Some fisherman put their big bass boat in and only use the trolling motor. You can rent self-power boat in Zilker park, and a few other locations near MOPAC. We have caught a few 1/2 lb bass. There is also a carp tournament at the east side of the lake and I’v seen people pull out HUGE fish. The carp fisherman were using big ocean like rigs, and lots of stink bait, fishing from the shore, but throwing their bait way out there. You can launch a kayak under Mopac on South End, next to Mopac on the North end next to the sports fields, or on the North East end under 1-35 just off of Rainy st.
McKinney Falls State Park
A nice state park inside of Austin City limits with tent camping, a waterfall, and a nice place to fish from the bank. The waterfalls are impressive and it has nice feel like you are truly in the wilderness while only being a few miles from downtown Austin. The fishing here is for small black bass and the occasional cat fish. You need light small fishing gear for this place. We like to hike a fair amount withing fishing McKinney Falls.
There are many ponds, most on private land, in the North Part of the City, If you look on Craigslist you can also find private stocked ponds right outside the city limits. These can be pretty fun if you enjoy the proverbial shooting in a barrel. There are few public parks that have fishing. In the North East part of the city there are two ponds, Bull Frog Pond and Kingfisher “Lake” that stock catfish and rainbow trout. So far all I’v landed is perch. There are playgrounds for the kids to play.
Fishing spots near Austin
Lake Travis is a big lake that run for 50 miles or so from Marble Falls to the outskirts of Austin and Lakeway. We spend alto of time fishing and boating on this lake,you can read more about it on our Texas Hill Country Site
Considered to be one of the premier fishing lake in the area, Lake Buchanan is known to be one of the best Stripper destinations in Texas.
Fly Fishing the Guadalupe River
The Guadalupe River is about 50 miles South of Austin and a great rainbow trout destination during the stocking season. It’s also one of the better places to fish for bass and just and overall amazing place. You can rent canoes, float trips, wader river access, or pony up for a guided trip. There is more information about fishing this river on our Texas Hill Country Website.
Pedernales falls state park
This state park is located about 30 miles from the SW edge of Austin. It a breathtaking view, hiking, and camp ground. The rock water fall formation can be fished and hiked if the water isn’t moving. I’ve pulled out a lot of small bass in the pools. There is a big pond at the bottom of the falls, and I’ve seen some BIG gars or carp, but never landed one. As a state park, you can fish without a license for the park fee. One of my favorite spots in the hill county, and it’s short drive from Austin. The only reason Mansfield dam beats in on this list, the bass are nice 2+ lbs at the dam. The bass at the falls are typically under keeper size.
Marble Falls Lake
I just landed one of the biggest white bass I have ever caught at the top of Marble Falls Lake, you need a very small boat or kayak to drag over the last set of rocks. Find some deep holes and jig off the bottom. The fishing is great in the Spring time.
Fishing in the Gulf of Mexico
For those of us living in the Texas Hill Country that need a little taste of big game fishing, the Gulf of Mexico and Galveston Bay are located 200 miles away. While it’s a long day trip, it can be done. Galveston is historic and vibrant beach resort town that is now almost a suburb of Houston. There are charter fishing boats, jetties, beach fishing, and a large fishing peer. Galveston has several decent resorts and hotels and a downtown bar district, that throws a pretty good Mardi Gras. It a great place to take the family while enjoying big time fishing while your there.