To kick off our Texas World Tour fishing trip, we put Austin in the rearview and started off down I-35 for San Antonio to fish Calaveras Lake with Bryan for famous freshwater Redfish.
You read that right- freshwater redfish. Every year, Texas Parks & Wildlife (TPWD) stocks Calaveras Lake and Braunig Lake with thousands (and sometimes even millions) of Redfish seedlings. They survive and mature year over year, reaching the size of Bull Reds you might catch at the Galveston or Port O'Connor jetties.
We pulled in at Calaveras Lake (parking is ~$8 and they only take cash) and find Bryan roped up to the dock ready to go.
My honest first impression was, “this dude must have it dialed in” thanks to the 4 outriggers equipping his 16’ Carolina bay boat. The boat also features a trolling motor, expansive tarp for sun cover, coolers, and sitting space for larger groups- all in all, it’s the total package.
The lake was water-skier flat as we got on plane for our 30 second run to the southeast corner of the lake. Bryan instantly spotted great marks on his Lowrance HDS7 and directed Attison and me to the bow to fan cast with some hefty gold spoons.
Bryan told us lucky groups can see the redfish hit while catching them on topwater lures. He also suggested we prepare for some pretty vicious bites, saying that clients sometimes nearly lose hold of the rod when reds hit near the surface.
White knuckling our rods after Bryan’s cautionary tale, we fan casted through first light, but with no luck. Bryan said he was marking redfish deeper and brought out the big guns. We could tell he had done this freshwater redfish thing a time or two- as soon as we had holstered our rods, Bryan was already fishing 4 lines wide at his target depth at his target speed, marking chunky reds on the Lowrance left and right.
It was a matter of when not if, and after a few small (top secret) tweaks, our rods were bowing to angry freshwater redfish.
These redfish fight just as hard as their saltwater relatives, diving deeper, tearing off directionally, and then pulling line a few final times at the sight of the boat and the net welcoming them aboard. Luckily Bryan keeps his tackle in shape and uses sharp hooks, allowing us to go 5/5 on keeper redfish.
While catching freshwater redfish is enough to make anyone’s day, we were also blown away by Calaveras Lake itself.
Fan casting from the bow granted us a front row seat at an impeccable sunrise, burning off morning fog that creeped across the water. Bird activity was everywhere, reminding us of coastal bird sanctuaries.
Pair that with giant redfish and you’d be forgiven for thinking you’re by the beach. But nope, Calaveras Lake, neighboring Brauning Lake and all their redfish are waiting for you just 3 hours from Dallas, 3 hours from Houston, and hour from Austin, and 30 mins from The Alamo: