As the summer enters full swing, most Austinites prefer to find ourselves near a body of water whenever possible. Paddleboarding, kayaking, and swimming all have their places, but really, who doesn’t love finding a shady spot to post up with a fishing pole? Fishing can be an ideal summer pastime. Below we’ve rounded up some of the best places in and around Austin to cast your line.

First, remember that anyone over age 17 will need a fishing license to fish public waters. You can buy one at the Texas Parks and Wildlife site.

Want to teach the kids a thing of two about fishing before heading out?
Check out these upcoming events geared towards children:

Texas State Parks & Wildlife Fishing Resources
Want to learn to fish with a park ranger? Or get the basics of fishing with the kids by watching a video? The Texas State Parks & Wildlife website has a wealth of resources for fishing basics, event listings for classes and workshops, and even a guide to fishing in neighborhoods close to home.

— “Go Outdoors” Kids Weekend at Bass Pro Shops & Cabela’s, May 25 & 26
Both stores are encouraging kids to get outside this summer to discover the joys of nature. Stop in for family-friendly activities and workshops including Catch-and-Release Ponds, crafts and workshops. Visit Bass Pro or Cabelas for event details.

Family fishing clinic – Photo from McKinney Falls State Park Facebook page

The Best Fishing Spots Around Austin

Walter E. Long Lake (6614 Blue Bluff Rd.)
Catfish, sunfish, largemouth and striped bass roam the waters at this conveniently located park, which also boasts picnic tables and grassy park space. Walter E. Long Lake is warm, even in winter, due to its function as a power plant cooling water,  which keeps the fish big and the vegetation lush. Entry costs $5 on weekdays and $10 on weekends.

Lake Pflugerville (18216 Weiss Ln.)
Several fishing piers dot the shores of Lake Pflugerville, which also offers kayak and canoe rentals and walking trails. Cast a line here and you could bring in a largemouth bass, channel catfish, or bluegill. Either way, you’ll be surrounded by some beautiful water.

Photo from the @PflugervilleParksandRec Facebook page

Mills Pond  (15108 Wells Port Dr.)
Mills Pond is a quiet escape from city life with a fishing pier, walking trails, and a floating boat dock that welcomes all non-motorized boats. It’s also dog-friendly provided your pup is on a leash. This pond holds mostly catfish, but has been stocked with rainbow trout in the past.

McKinney Falls State Park (5808 McKinney Palls Parkway)
A short drive from Austin proper, McKinney Falls State Park is a Texan oasis – here, a fishing trip could turn into a multi-day affair, if you choose to set up a tent in one of the park’s 81 campsites with electric and water hookups. Bank fishing along Onion Creek offers opportunities to catch bass, sunfish, and catfish. If you get bored of fishing, there are miles of hiking trails- plus, you can take a dip in the falls to cool off.

Photo from the McKinney Falls State Park Facebook page

Barkley Meadows Park Ponds (4529 S SH 130)
Barkley Meadows Park contains two bodies of water: the Berdoll pond, where the fishing policy is catch and release only, and Onion Creek, where you can bring your trophies home. The park is shady and peaceful, and allows leashed dogs and kayaks.

Brushy Creek Lake Park (3300 Brushy Creek Lake Rd.)
Head up to Cedar Park to cast a line in the Brushy Creek Lake, which boasts picnic amenities and pavilions for rent. Non-motorized boats can be launched here if you want to take to the waters, and kayaks are available for rent as well. These waters contain mostly bass.

Lady Bird Lake (Access at several points)
If you’re from Austin, you might call it Town Lake… And you probably know it’s actually the Colorado River. Whatever you want to call this body of water, it’s got pretty good fishing, and pretty great views of the city, too. Just watch out for paddleboarders!

Lady Bird Lake – Photo credit Heidi Okla/Do512 Family

Lake Austin (Access at several points)
Largemouth bass and more roam these conveniently located waters; Lake Austin is known as a place to snag a trophy in the form of an 8-10 pound fish. For the best luck, cast a line over some underwater vegetation in the morning or evening, as recreational boats can crowd the lake a bit during daytime hours.

Lake Bastrop  (100 Park Road 1A)
Bastrop State Park is just east of Austin, and is home to Lake Bastrop, a known fishing hole with great bass-catching chances. You could also hook a catfish here – and as it’s a state park, you won’t need a license to fish from shore. You can even borrow tackle from the park headquarters. If you’re looking for an affordable one-time fishing adventure, this is the spot for you.

Bright Lake – Old Settlers Park  (3300 E. Palm Valley Blvd.)
Old Settlers Park is a local favorite with Round Rock residents, and for good reason. A sunset viewed from Bright Lake’s fishing pier is almost as memorable as the catfish, perch, and bass stocked by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Foundation. And if you don’t have any luck on the waters, head to the disc golf area and forget your woes on 600+ acres of courses.

Bright Lake — photo credit: @Mayvictorian

Barton Creek Greenbelt  (200 S Lamar Blvd)
This is one of the most wonderful places to spend a day while in Austin. Hike, wander, swim, lounge, or best of all, pop a squat and fish for a bit. It’s beautiful and serene, and great for both kids and adults who enjoy a bit of nature right outside their homes. With the many river banks that split off from the main trail, you’re sure to find a fishing hole all your own.

Mansfield Dam Park (4370 Mansfield Dr)
Mansfield Dam Park offers beautiful views of Lake Travis where families can picnic, swim in the secluded cove, fish, and play. There are bi-weekly stockings of channel catfish, rainbow trout, and white bass, but it all depends on what time of the year it is.

Article contributed by Kelly McComas