SAN ANTONIO – Anglers new to South Texas may be surprised to know that coastal red drum, commonly called redfish, can be caught in two freshwater lakes near San Antonio.
The gamefish species thrives in both Calaveras and Braunig Lakes which are each just minutes from downtown. The lure of catching these powerful fish so close to home draws people to the lakes year-round.
Oscar Castillo, who runs the San Antonio-based non-profit Fin Addict Angler Foundation, says the two reservoirs are prime real estate for redfish.
“Braunig Lake is a little smaller but Calaveras Lake is a big radiator support for the CPS Energy plant,” he said. “For 85% of the year, this water is warm because it’s a big cooling system for that plant.”
He says a lack of salinity plays a factor too. The redfish in these lakes do not reproduce.
“Since it doesn’t reproduce, it grows twice as fast. So, with the warm water and no salinity, these redfish grow really quick,” Castillo added.
Local fishing guides, from Red Dawg Yak Fishing and 3rd Degree Fishing, confirm that the minimum length to harvest redfish from Calaveras and Braunig Lakes is 20-inches. The daily limit is three fish per person.
While adults do need a fishing license, Texas Parks & Wildlife does not require a tag for red drum caught at these lakes.
How many redfish are in there? In 2018, Texas Parks & Wildlife reported stocking Calaveras Lake with over 200,000 fingerlings. That was their second stocking of the year and the state regularly stocks both lakes.
Most of the fishermen and women I talk to have great luck catching local redfish using chrome-colored ‘Rat-L-Trap’ lures. Gold chrome is a hot color this Summer. ‘Rat-L-Traps’ are widely available at Wal-Mart, Academy and Bass Pro.
Calaveras and Braunig Lakes are also home to channel and blue catfish, hybrid striped bass and largemouth bass.
Good luck or as we anglers like to say “tight lines!”