John's Journal...

Catching West Texas Catfish for the Bragging and the Eating

Day 3: Catch Blue Catfish at Lake Amistad, Falcon Lake and Lake Texoma in Texas

Editor’s Note: Because of the long growing season, the abundance of food and the low human population numbers, west Texas may very well home some of the best fishing for catfish in the nation. "Due to the long growing season, this section of Texas can produce more and bigger catfish quicker than most areas of Texas and anywhere else in the country," says Bobby Farquhar, regional program director for west Texas for Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD).

Click for Larger ViewWhen we asked Farquhar to pick the best blue cat reservoir in his region, he frowned and said, "We lost some of our better blue-cat fisheries some years ago, because of golden algae. Many of the lakes around San Angelo were hit the hardest. EV-Spence and Lake Colorado City were probably affected the most. But we're restocking these lakes and hope they'll be back up to speed in the near future. Before the golden algae problem, I'd have picked EV-Spence as one of our best blue catfish lakes. But today, I'd have to pick Lake Amistad, close to Del Rio, as this section of the state's number-one blue cat lake.”

Click for Larger ViewEncompassing more than 63,700 acres, Lake Amistad lays just a few miles northwest of Del Rio. Blue cats like open water, and Amistad has plenty of it. For the opportunity to catch really-big blue cats, Lake Texoma probably produces more than Amistad. However, don't forget that you can bet on Lake Amistad for the possibility of taking numbers of blue cats. The two arms of Lake Amistad - the Devils River arm and the Rio Grande arm - both home river channels where anglers find numbers of cats. Because Lake Amistad helps to form the border between Texas and Mexico, it's an international lake. "The border runs right through the middle of the lake," Farquhar advises. "So, you better be careful where you're fishing."

As long as you're fishing on the Texas side of the lake, you only need a Texas fishing license. But if you fish the Mexican side of the lake, you must have a Mexican fishing license. Most Texas fishermen stay on the Texas side of the lake. "The lake has a good forage shad population, and the long growing season helps to add to the productivity of the lake," Farquhar explains. You can expect high blue catfish production with 30- to 40-pound catfish not uncommon at Amistad due to these positive lake characteristics as well as the high fertility of the Rio Grande River. Anglers fish with rods and reels for catfish at Amistad, however, trotline fishing still proves the most popular. At Amistad, as on most Texas lakes, you have to have a gear tag and observe the 50-hook limit when trotlining.

Click for Larger View"Don't overlook Falcon Lake if you're going to be fishing in this region," Farquhar mentions. "This lake was also hurt by the drought years ago, but it's filled back up due to abundant rainfall and the Mexican government's releasing some water. Although these two lakes may be one or two years behind Choke Canyon for producing really-big catfish, the catfish population on these two lakes is exploding. These two lakes have quite a bit of cat-fishing pressure, even though they're so remote."
Although many Texas anglers may have to travel further to get to Amistad and Falcon than they will to fish lakes in the more central part of the state, the lighter fishing pressure, longer growing season and the abundance of blue cats at these lakes will make the additional drive time well worth your trip. Many anglers have concerns about the effects of commercial fishing on these two lakes, however, as Farquhar explains, "We don't have any real evidence that commercial fishing on these two lakes is detrimentally impacting the blue catfish population."

Click for Larger ViewWhen I asked Farquhar about comparing the numbers of catfish anglers using rods and reels with the numbers fishing with jugs and trotlines on Amistad, Falcon and Choke Canyon, he explained that, "Although we don't have any hard data to document the exact number of anglers using trotlines and jugs versus the number of anglers using rods and reels, I believe there's an even 50-50 mix between both styles of fishing. One of the trends that we've identified is that jug fishing for cats is beginning to gain in popularity. Jug fishing is a somewhat more-active form of fishing than just setting-out trotlines, and we're beginning to see more and more fishermen using jugs for catfish on those lakes."

Catfish Like a ProTo learn more about how to catch catfish, go to", or go to" type in the name of the book, “Catfish Like a Pro” to buy it. Too, you can download a Kindle app for free and buy the book from Amazon to read it on your iPad, Smartphone or computer.

To contact the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department call (800) 792-1112; or, go to the website You also can go to, type in Texas and the lake's name you're interested in learning more about and find many websites for chambers of commerce, marinas and fishing guides on the lakes.

Tomorrow: Catch Flathead Catfish on Trotlines at Lake Meredith, Lake Amistad, Falcon Lake and Lake Buchanan in Texas


Check back each day this week for more about "Catching West Texas Catfish for the Bragging and the Eating"

Day 1: Fishing for the Numerous Catfish in West Texas – Trotlining and Jugging
Day 2: Triple Play at Choke Canyon, Texas – Catch Flatheads, Blues and Channel Catfish
Day 3: Catch Blue Catfish at Lake Amistad, Falcon Lake and Lake Texoma in Texas
Day 4: Catch Flathead Catfish on Trotlines at Lake Meredith, Lake Amistad, Falcon Lake and Lake Buchanan in Texas
Day 5: Great Catfishing for Catfish at Braunig and Calaveras Lakes in West Texas

ALL CONTENT PROTECTED UNDER THE DIGITAL MILLENIUM COPYRIGHT ACT. Content theft, either printed or electronic is a federal offense.


Entry 668, Day 3