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If you’re going to choose one place to kick off your trophy hunt, pick Texas. It’s true what they say, everything is bigger here! Blessed with prolific freshwater and saltwater fisheries, the Lone Star State doesn’t lack record-breaking catches. What’s more, Texas is overflowing with the record fish! And we’re here to prove it.
In the following sections, we’ll list the most popular fish species in Texas and the measurements that made them famous. We’ll also share a few tips and tricks on how to land those superstars yourself. There’s a lot to unpack, so let’s get started.
Biggest Fish Caught in Texas by Species
Inshore fishing in Texas is synonymous with the “Inshore Slam.” Celebrities such as Trout, Redfish, and Flounder make up this holy trio, and they’re active most of the year. The nearshore waters are all about Red Snapper, while the deep blue is the domain of prized Swordfish. Meanwhile, Largemouth Bass and Catfish rule the inland waters. But these aren’t the only top catches we’ll cover.
To see the Texas state record for each fish, click on the species below. Bear in mind that the fish are listed in alphabetical order and not according to the latest record.
- Bass (Largemouth)
- Catfish (Blue)
- Crappie (White)
- Drum (Black)
- Drum (Red)
- Flounder (Southern)
- Gar (Alligator)
- Snapper (Red)
- Trout (Speckled)
- Texas state record: 18 lbs 18 oz on Lake Fork in 1992.
No freshwater fish are as sought-after in Texas as Largemouth Bass. This isn’t surprising when you think that numerous inland fisheries are teeming with 5-pounders. Some lakes such as O.H. Ivie Lake, Lake Fork, and Eagle Mountain Lake regularly boast coveted 10-pounders. In fact, Lake Fork and O.H. Ivie Lake have gone down in history as record Largemouth Bass hotspots.
Lake Fork is the holder of the Texas Largemouth Bass rod and reel state record since 1992. Barry St.Clair reeled in an enviable 18.18 lb beast that was 25.5 inches long. The hefty fella was so heavy that Barry thought he had hooked a log! And O.H. Ivie Lake produced the latest IGFA Women’s Line Class world record when Lea Anne Powell caught a 12 lb beast in 2023.
We can tell you’re already hooked on Largemouth Bass fishing. And how could you not be? They’re perfect game fish and tournament targets. They guarantee action-packed fights full of sudden bursts for cover and fierce bait strikes. Plus, they leave room for you to experiment with baits and angling approaches.
They’ll gulp anything from crankbaits, spinnerbaits, jigs, soft lures, and worms. The same goes for fishing techniques. Be it baitcasting, spinning, or fly fishing, the chances are you’ll land a decent catch. Maybe even a new Texas Bass record.
- Texas state record: 121.5 lbs and 58″ on Lake Texoma in 2004.
Speaking of freshwater VIPs, you can’t fish in Texas without trying your luck at landing a Blue Catfish. Large and heavy, they’re the definition of a prize catch. Other than Gar, no inland giant will make you feel as victorious as Catfish. If you don’t believe us, ask Cody Mullennix who caught a 121.5 lb monster in 2004. His 5′ Blue is the Texas Catfish record!
Cody was fishing on Lake Texoma when a rod-bending Blue appeared. His shad bait worked its magic and he ended up with the newsworthy fish. But little did he know it would also become a worldwide sensation.
His Blue, later nicknamed “Splash,” became not only the Texas state record but also a world record! Splash spent the rest of its long life in the Texas Freshwater Fisheries Center in Athens. And while no longer the world record, Splash remains the Texas state record Catfish.
If you want to test your skills against these behemoths, look no further than Lake Texoma. The lake boasts above-average specimens. Its Blues exceed the usual 20 to 40-pound range and feature an amazing number of Catfish in the 80 to 100-pound class. Cody’s shad proved to be an excellent Catfish bait, but you can also experiment with stink baits such as beef kidney or chicken gizzards.
- Texas state record: 4.56 lbs on Navarro Mills in 1968.
Ranging between 5 and 12 inches, and weighing only half a pound on average, Crappies aren’t the meanest or toughest opponents. But even though these local sweethearts aren’t as size-inspiring as Catfish, they most certainly have a special place in the anglers’ hearts.
Besides being tenacious and perky, these little fellas can certainly surprise you with their size and weight. And when you hear that the Texas state Crappie record is 4.56 pounds, you’ll realize why they’re so popular. The state record was a chubby White Crappie caught by G. G. Wooderson on Navarro Mills back in 1968.
Since the state record was made over 55 years ago, we have to admit it’s high time someone broke it. If you’re up for a challenge, hit Daniel Reservoir, Granger Lake, Lake Arrowhead, or Lake Fork and reel in your own chunky fella that’ll claim the crown.
The prime time to target Crappie is in spring when they populate the shallows to spawn. You may also find them around the dams, bridges, piers, and docks. As for bait, we recommend using minnows or Monkey Milk jigs. So, gear up and thank us later.
- Texas state record: 81 lbs and 51.18″ in the Gulf of Mexico in 1988.
Once you move away from the inland fisheries and step into the inshore realm, you get to see what the saltwater angling hype is all about. Drums, in particular, are all the rage in Texas. While Red Drum are more sought-after than Black Drum, these aren’t lagging far behind either. In fact, the Texas Black Drum record is more impressive than the state Redfish record.
The largest Black Drum on record is Wally Escobar’s 81 lb brute caught in 1988 in the Gulf of Mexico. To fully understand how rewarding this catch was, you should know that Bulls (astonishingly large fish) usually weigh between 30 and 50 pounds!
If Black Drum are your favorite targets, you know where to go. Coastal Texas will welcome you with jaw-dropping creatures. All you need to do is align your hunt with their peak season and make sure you have proper bait.
The Bull run usually occurs in February and March when Black Drum are getting ready for their spawning season. This is by far the best time to target potential headliners. You’ll find them gathering in the Gulf around jetties or in the connecting passes. To score a Bull, use shrimp, squid, or cut fish instead of artificial lures.
- Texas state record: 59.5 lbs and 54.25″ in the Gulf of Mexico in 2000.
Red Drum, better known as Redfish, are undoubtedly on every angler’s radar when fishing in Texas. Similar to their cousins Black Drum, Reds can grow to astonishing proportions. But unlike their Black cousins, Redfish are much better fighters. This makes them the ideal game fish.
Adult Redfish usually grow up to 28 inches and weigh around 10 pounds. The Texas state record Redfish, however, was double in size and five times heavier than your average specimen. The now-famous Redfish reached almost 60 pounds and exceeded 4 feet in length. It was caught in the Gulf of Mexico in 2000 by Artie Longron.
Now that you know what you can expect, let’s see how you can go on your own Redfish adventure. Firstly, nail your timing. While you can go Redfish casting year-round, fall is the best time to battle Bulls. Secondly, use live shrimps or spoons, and you’ll shortly have a knee-buckling trophy on your line.
Finally, find the right spot. Bulls thrive in Galveston, Port Aransas, and South Padre Island. Laguna Madre, Baffin Bay, and Matagorda Bay are brimming with prize fish. Captain Cliff Webb, for example, can confirm that Baffin Bay promises a catch of your lifetime.
- Texas state record: 13 lbs and 28″ in Sabine Lake in 1976.
Flounder are among the first saltwater species that come to mind when fishing in Texas is mentioned. After all, there isn’t a Texas Inshore Slam without them. Apart from being exquisite table fare, Flounder can surprise you with their size, too. It’s no wonder they’re among the top three targets in Texas’s bays.
Speaking of the proportions, your usual catch will be a female weighing up to 1.5 pounds. But 5-pounders aren’t uncommon either. A 13 lb, 28″ Flatfish, however, is quite surprising. And that’s precisely the Texas Flounder record.
What’s even more striking is the fact that the Texas state record for Southern Flounder was made almost 50 years ago and it still hasn’t fallen. Herbert Endicott, the lucky angler who landed the state record, caught this leviathan in Sabine Lake in 1976! If you want to see how large the fish was, go to the Museum of the Gulf Coast in Port Arthur where its skin mount is on display.
If you’d rather browse the fisheries in Texas to chase your own museum specimen, hit the bays and estuaries as soon as fall comes through. Floundering is at its best in Sabine Lake, Laguna Madre, Baffin Bay, Matagorda Bay, and Galveston Bay this time of year due to their Gulfward migration.
- Texas state record: 283 lbs on Sam Rayburn Lake in 2023.
Next up, we have the unsurpassed titans of the freshwater world – Alligator Gar. These colossal creatures are the “holy grail” of the angling circles. They’re mind-blowing even with their average weight of 100 pounds! But can you imagine then what a nearly 300 lb fish looks like?
We can’t blame you if you’re struggling to visualize this beast – these numbers sound made up! But they’re true! The Texas Alligator Gar record was a 279 lb fish caught on the Rio Grande in 1951 by Bill Valverde until recently. Yes, there’s an even bigger fish now!
Believe it or not, a new Alligator Gar record was landed just recently, and it broke the 72-year-old record! This 2023 giant weighed an unbelievable 283 pounds and was reeled in from Sam Rayburn Lake by Art Weston. It took him more than 2.5 hours to pull this ancient being out of the water on a 6 lb test. Apart from the Texas state record, Weston’s Gar broke the water body, all-tackle world, and the 6 lb line class records, too!
So, if you feel adventurous, check out Alligator Gar-packed fisheries such as Sam Rayburn Lake and the Trinity River, and clash with these titans by yourself. You’ll need some cut carp on a treble hook and serious muscle power.
- Texas state record: 38.75 lbs and 40″ in the Gulf of Mexico in 2014.
Tasty, feisty, hefty, and picture-perfect, Red Snappers are valued game fish. These gorgeous-looking targets are on every angler’s list when fishing the Gulf out of Texas. This is especially true for the bigger fish residing in federal waters.
Your average Red Snapper catch is likely to be around 10 inches and 2 pounds. So, when an opportunity to pull out a 40 lb, 40″ fish shows up, you don’t want to miss out on it. Even more so if that fish is within state waters as the Texas record Red Snapper was! The state record was caught just five miles from Port O’Connor by Joseph Beaver in 2014 and weighed 38.75 pounds and measured 40 inches!
So, if brag-worthy Red Snapper stories are on your mind, you know where to go. Head just a couple of miles from the Texan coast at places such as Port O’Connor, Corpus Christi, Port Aransas, and Port Mansfield, and you’ll be in for a treat.
While you won’t have to travel too far to reach their whereabouts, bear in mind that Red Snappers are bottom dwellers and they can hide in depths up to 400 feet. This also means you’ll practice a combo of bottom fishing and jigging. Shrimps and squids are their kryptonite, so make sure you have enough to lure a brute your way.
- Texas state record: 493 lbs and 145.75″ in the Gulf of Mexico in 2013.
What Alligator Gar are to the freshwater kingdom, Swordfish are to the deep blue realm. These three-digit royals are the ultimate saltwater catches when fishing offshore in Texas. No other fish will put up a fight as Swordfish will. Even an average 125 lb Swordfish will make you break sweat. We can’t fathom what a record-breaking beast can do then…
And the Texas state record Swordfish was exactly that – a beast. It weighed almost 500 pounds and was 12 feet long! Brian Barclay, who overpowered this savage in 2013 after 4 hours of playing tug of war with it, broke the previous state record of 341 pounds and 124 inches made in 2011.
Swords are opportunistic feeders and they aren’t too picky. This means a variety of baits will do the trick. Be it blue runner, rainbow runner, or mackerel, Swordfish will strike it as long as you present it in the right way. Slow-paced trolling is the name of the game here.
To find the hot bite, you’ll need a well-equipped charter specialized in Swordfish hunts. But keep in mind that you’ll need to go at least 70 miles offshore if you want to get lucky. But you’re in luck. Many deep sea fishing boats go as far as 125 miles from shore in pursuit of the new Texas state record Swordfish.
- Texas state record: 15.6 lbs and 37.25″ in the Lower Laguna Madre in 2002.
Last but not least, we’ll wrap up this Texas state record fish line-up with the final members of the Inshore Slam – Speckled Trout. Also known as Spotted Seatrout, Speckled Trout are extremely popular game fish in the South. They’re smart, elusive, and won’t go down without a fight. Which is exactly what you want in your opponents.
Only if they were massive, too. Oh, but they can be! While larger fish are more commonly encountered in Florida, Texas doesn’t lack enviable specimens either. Your average Spotted Seatrout in Texas is around 20 inches long and 3 pounds heavy. So a 16 lb, 3′ catch makes the Texas record Speckled Frout impressive.
The bragging rights of being a Texas legend go to Carl “Bud” Rowland, who caught and released this lunker in 2002. He was fly fishing the Lower Laguna Madre when the “Big Lady” – as Bud named her – fell for his now-famous Numero Uno fly.
Luckily, Spotted Seatrout records fall more often than is the case with Alligator Gar or Flounder. In other words, we encourage you to explore the coastal waters in search of the new Texas state record Speckled Trout. Pack a light to medium action rod, hit the shallows, and try Bud’s fly approach. Tight lines!
Texas State Record Fish: An Overview
Here’s a quick breakdown of the above-mentioned species, their measurements, and the angling hotspots that made history:
Species Pounds Length (in) Place Year Bass (Largemouth) 18.18 25.5 Lake Fork 1992 Catfish (Blue) 121.5 58 Lake Texoma 2004 Crappie (White) 4.56 N/A Navarro Mills 1968 Drum (Black) 81 51.18 Gulf of Mexico 1988 Drum (Red) 59.5 54.25 Gulf of Mexico 2000 Flounder (Southern) 13 28 Sabine Lake 1976 Gar (Alligator) 279 N/A Rio Grande 1951 Snapper (Red) 38.75 40 Gulf of Mexico 2014 Swordfish 493 145.75 Gulf of Mexico 2013 Trout (Speckled) 15.6 37.25 Lower Laguna Madre 2002
Texas State Record Fish: A Long Line-up of Headliners
The Texas state record fish line-up is far from over. We’ll extend the list over time and count on you to help us update it with the new records. You never know when the next jaw-dropping fish will appear. It might be you who’ll land it.
What fish from our Texas record fish article surprised you the most? Do you have any brag-worthy stories from your own Texas angling trips? Hit the comment button below and tell us all about your Texas fishing adventures.