Kayak Fishing in Texas – what to know and where to go

July 12, 2022

It’s the combination of two of our favorite outdoor sports – paddling and fishing. Texas is a large and varied state that has a little bit of everything from mountains to deserts, to rivers and coastline. With all the different terrain, it makes for some great fishing.  And one of our favorite ways to hit these prime fishing locations is to hop in a kayak and get paddling.

Drew Turner, co-host of Paddler’s Playbook – a podcast all about kayak fishing and helping people enjoy their time on the water, got his first kayak in 2005 and was hooked on the idea of getting off the bank and into these out-of-reach destinations, all with the goal of catching more fish.

As an avid saltwater angler, “I wanted to get to places where the fish really haven’t seen a lot of fishermen or haven’t seen a lot of boats. Kayaking allows you to get into a lot of places where there’s absolutely no way a boat could get in there,” says Drew.

Freshwater and saltwater anglers are turning to these small, agile boats for a myriad of reasons, and are becoming a preferred mode of transportation for some. They offer more stability than canoes; they’re portable and easy enough to throw in the truck or in the back of a trailer. They can easily be stored in your garage, turned upside down in your backyard, or on the patio.  For the budget conscience angler, kayaks can be a great alternative to expensive powered fishing boats that require proper storage, and a truck to pull the boat.

Two people pull kayaks through shallow water through reeds.
Photo: Drew Turner

I wanted to get to places where the fish really haven’t seen a lot of fishermen or haven’t seen a lot of boats. Kayaking allows you to get into a lot of places where there’s absolutely no way a boat could get in there.”

For folks interested in getting into kayaking, Turner stresses that you must, “know your physical limitations. Kayaking is enjoyable but it takes a certain amount of physical endurance to get to the places that you want to get and actually enjoy it. In order to really catch more fish, in order to be more successful, you have to find those far-reaching places that you can get to in a kayak with a little effort. And the quality of fish will be even better.”

For Turner, his most important item of gear is a good paddle. “It’s not just a paddle – if it’s 10 ounces to a pound less than the other, you are literally paddling hundreds and hundreds of strokes a day and an extra pound of hundreds and hundreds of reps will take it out of you. There’s a difference between a cheap paddle and a good paddle.”

You’ll also need a lifejacket that fits well and that you’ll want to wear. There are even kayak specific fishing life jackets as well as life jackets that are specifically designed for women. The key to finding a great lifejacket, Turner states, is finding one that is comfortable on your body, “because a lifejacket does you no good sitting in the hull of the kayak.”

If you got yourself a great paddle, a floatation that is comfortable on you, and you’ve secured a kayak, now you’re ready to deck out your boat.  There are a variety of accessories from rod holders to plier holders and even GoPro and camera mounts. A must-have gear item for us, especially during the summer months is a cooler that will keep all your beverages cold.

An kayak outfitted for fishing sits on the bank of a river.

Seasoned kayak anglers and veterans of the sport have learned over time that some gear items are more important than others. And it might take some time for you to learn exactly what fits your needs. A great place to start looking is YakAttack.com or YakGear.com.  Both companies specialize in kayak fishing gear and kayak rigging. They have everything you would need to outfit your boat from anchors, camo coverings, to kayak carts that will help you get down to the water a little easier.

Now that you got your boat fully decked out, you’re ready to hit the water. If you’re looking for prime fishing spots within the Colorado River watershed, check out some of these destinations:

For Drew, his favorite place to go saltwater fishing is in Matagorda at 3-mile cut. “It’s an awesome place for kayak fishing. It’s pretty shallow, not a lot of boats that can get back there and the water can be crystal clear.”

If you’re looking for freshwater options in the Hill Country or Central Texas region, check out:

  • Ladybird Lake in Austin – access is available in a few locations. We suggest putting in at Red Bud Island, or the Drainage Ditch Ramp located across Stephen F. Austin Street from Austin High School.
  • Little Webberville and Webberville Park east of Austin offer great options for fishing the Colorado River.
  • Pedernales River – there are several public access points including Milton Reimers Ranch, Pedernales Falls State Park, and LCRA’s Pedernales River Nature Park.
  • Llano River – access the Llano River at Castell crossing near Castell, TX.
  • Highland Lakes – the highland lakes offer great bass fishing and there are many locations to launch from including Lake Travis, Lake Marble Falls, and Lake Buchanan.
  • Lake Bastrop – there are two options for accessing LCRA’s Lake Bastrop – North Shore and South Shore Park. Both offer excellent fishing for Largemouth Bass.

Get out on the water and enjoy everything the great state has to offer – great fishing, refreshing water, and the thrill of hooking one of the many fish species that call Texas home.