San Antonio straddles the line between the South Texas Plains and the Hill Country of Central Texas. As a result, the city offers access to a diverse range of fishing opportunities.
Bass fishing lakes in the San Antonio area run the gamut from small neighborhood fishing holes to sprawling impoundments.
Make no mistake, there are great bass lakes near San Antonio. But they could not be more different from one another. Tactics that absolutely clean up at one lake might fall flat on another.
Bass fishing near San Antonio has a way of keeping anglers on their toes.
The varied climate is another wild card, but one that you can definitely use to your advantage. Bass that live an hour’s drive south of San Antonio are likely to spawn a full two months earlier than bass that live an hour’s drive north.
That gives you a huge window of opportunity in which you can take advantage of prime fishing conditions somewhere in the San Antonio area. These are the best lakes in which to do so.
Choke Canyon Reservoir
A little over an hour south of San Antonio, Choke Canyon Reservoir has been one of the most reliable South Texas bass factories going back decades. There’s no other lake in this part of the state that more consistently produces 10-pound largemouths.
Choke Canyon Reservoir encompasses nearly 26,000 acres, and has varied habitat that supports almost any style of bass fishing you might want to try out. The water is usually lightly stained.
You’ll find many acres of standing timber in Choke Canyon Reservoir, along with groves of flooded mesquite and huisache, and large beds of hydrilla.
Shad and crawfish are the main forage, and lures that imitate either can help you boat some big bass.
Choke Canyon Reservoir is located in the hottest part of Texas. Bass may spawn as early as January here, and they’re sure to be on their beds in February.
Those winter months are great times to target big, solitary bass in coves. But the numbers fishery really explodes post-spawn.
By the time March turns to April, you can usually find bass at virtually any depth and on a wide range of main lake structure. Look for points, drop-offs, humps and channel swings adjacent to spring spawning sites, especially in the lower end of the lake.
There are times when just about anything you tie on can draw strikes, but the across-the-board winners at Choke Canyon Reservoir are spinnerbaits and jigs with crawfish trailers.
The biggest bass like to hang out in the hydrilla here, so try running a white/silver shad-colored spinnerbait along weed edges, and right over top of hydrilla that hasn’t yet reached the surface.
Some of the best spots are rocky shorelines that quickly drop off into groves of hydrilla.
Jig-and-craw combos work better around stumps and trees where the cover isn’t quite as thick.
The fishing can get very tough here during the dog days of summer, but try a topwater like a buzzbait, frog or Spook early in the day before the sun becomes too sweltering.
Choke Canyon State Park provides a variety of access around the shoreline, including several boat ramps and ample bank fishing access, as well as a campground.
When you’ve gotten you bass fishing itch scratched, Chock Canyon Reservoir also is among the best fishing lakes in Texas to catch a stringer of catfish or a bunch of white bass.
Amistad Reservoir has earned its place among the best bass fishing lakes in Texas. Despite being 3 hours from San Antonio, way out in the far-flung desert country of West Texas, it’s well worth the drive to catch giant bass in a beautiful setting.
Spanning 64,900 acres and straddling the Mexican border, Amistad is a deep, clear reservoir loaded with Florida strain largemouth bass.
On the surface, it looks more like a big Arizona or Nevada Lake—giants like Lake Mead and Lake Powell—than a typical Texas bass lake.
The clarity of Amistad reservoir is shocking at times. Gin-clear water is something most Texas anglers aren’t used to, and stealth and a pair of polarized sunglasses are essential.
That being said, it’s easy to make the mistake of scaling your baits way down to combat the clear water. That’s a great way to load up on 2-pound bass (which is totally fine if that’s what you want) but if you’re out after giants, throw something big.
Swimbaits, oversized tube jigs and 10-inch worms are often used to catch big bass on Amistad Reservoir. A lot of bass are caught in about 5 feet of water in early spring, with the best bite sliding down to 10 or 15 feet later in the season.
Bass typically spawn in February and March, and there’s solid post-spawn fishing throughout April and into May as big bass transition toward deeper haunts and feed heavily.
Weather is a big variable early in the year, and a major cold snap can delay the spawn by weeks.
One of the things that makes this lake so great is that it offers a great mix of structure and cover. The terrain is rugged and rocky, but the lake also has healthy growth of hydrilla and plenty of brush and trees.
The key to finding bass is identifying bottom structure, like a creek channel, point or drop-off, and then looking for cover on or around the structure. Dense mats of hydrilla expand from spring into summer, and bass often hide out beneath the grass.
Bigger bass tend to favor major, main-lake structure and hydrilla beds here, while smaller bass congregate in the creek arms and backwaters and often bite readily on crankbaits, jigs and soft plastics.
Amistad Reservoir is accessible through Amistad National Recreation Area, which provides several boat ramps and campgrounds around the lake. The entire shoreline, aside from developed areas, is open to bank fishing.
An 8,300-acre reservoir on the Guadalupe River, Canyon Lake is an excellent bass lake just under an hour north of San Antonio. For the most part, the lake is deep and clear, with a shoreline dominated by steep, rocky banks.
Largemouth bass are the dominant species here, but the lake also has a decent number of smallmouths.
Texas Parks & Wildlife discontinued smallmouth bass stocking in the ‘80s, but there’s still a self-sustaining population, mostly in the rocky lower end of the lake. The reservoir made our list of best smallmouth bass fishing spots in Texas.
Canyon Lake has isolated pockets of flooded timber in some of the creek arms, along with occasional beds of vegetation and a few marinas with docks that often harbor largemouths.
For the most part, however, the best way to fish this lake is to let bottom structure be your guide.
Try running crankbaits along main lake points and rocky shorelines. Numerous artificial fish habitat structures have also been placed throughout the lake, and this map from TPWD shows their location.
The water may be lightly stained in its uppermost end, but the lower lake tends to be crystal-clear. Low-vis fluorocarbon line and finesse soft plastics work best in these clear waters.
Try drop-shotting around the ledges and drop-offs close to the dam for a mixed bag of largemouths and smallmouths.
Guadalupe bass, which are found only in a handful of Central Texas river systems, are occasionally caught in Canyon Lake. They prefer moving water, and are more common up in the Guadalupe River above the lake.
Canyon Lake is a US Army Corps of Engineers reservoir, and the corps operates seven major parks around the shoreline. Crane’s Mill Park is a particularly good spot, with a fishing dock, marina, boat launch and campground on a long peninsula.
Besides the various black bass species, Canyon Lake also is among the best striped bass fishing lakes in Texas.
A long, narrow reservoir of just 410 acres, Lake Dunlap is located along the Guadalupe River in New Braunfels, just a few miles downstream from the much larger Canyon Lake.
Lake Dunlap is a favorite bass fishing spot among local San Antonio anglers, especially those who like to fish from a kayak.
For a lake its size, Dunlap has given up a surprising number of big bass, including a 13-pound lake record and numerous bass in the 5- to 8-pound range. You may catch Guadalipe bass here too on occasion, but largemouths are larger and more common.
Lake Dunlap has some vegetation, stumps and brush, but the best structure tends to be man-made. Docks, bulkheads, bridge pylons and piers are great places to find bass. The water generally ranges from clear to lightly stained.
Topwater lures like buzzbaits, poppers and Spooks are excellent early in the morning.
Try a worm or creature bait when bass are holding tight to cover, or toss a lipless crankbait to explore more water quickly.
Lake Dunlap has seen its share of struggles. A surprising spot on Bassmaster’s “100 Best Bass Lakes” list in 2013 arguably brought this little lake more attention and fishing pressure than it should have to handle, and a partial dam failure in 2019 drained much of its water, and a lot of fish along with it.
Still, there are plenty of bass in Lake Dunlap, and big ones are still brought to the boat every year. The only public access is the boat ramp just off I-35. Bank fishing access is limited due to extensive shoreline development.
Medina Reservoir is located at the edge of the Texas Hill Country, about an hour west of San Antonio. A midsized 5,400-acre reservoir on the Medina River, it’s a quality bass lake that harbors both largemouth and smallmouth bass.
Hybrid stripers and catfish are the most abundant game fish in Medina Lake, but the bass fishing tends to be underrated.
Vegetation is sparse, but the lake has a lot of productive bottom structure, as well as a few areas of brush and timber, most notably in Spettel and Cypress Coves.
Shallow woody cover can be great for largemouths in spring, but they often head to deep drop-offs near points when the water heats up in summer.
For smallmouths, set your sights on rocky outcrops, and hit them with jigs and crankbaits in crawfish patterns.
Parts of Medina Lake also have an abundance of docks and boathouses. It can be a lot of fun to motor from dock to dock, picking off bass on creature baits, tube jigs and Senkos.
Medina Reservoir was once home to the Texas state record bass, a 13.5-pound whopper that held the title for 37 years, back before Florida strain largemouths were stocked in Texas.
Medina is still capable of turning out big ones, to which a pair of 10-pounders caught here in 2021 will attest.
The water in Medina Lake is usually clear, but is often lightly stained in the coves and creek arms. This lake is also prone to drastic fluctuations in water level—up to 40 feet at times—which can significantly impact the fishing.
Calaveras Lake is a 3,600-acre power plant cooling reservoir, located about 20 miles south of Downtown San Antonio.
Although most local anglers will agree the bass fishing here isn’t what it was in the lake’s heyday, there are still plenty of feisty largemouths in Calaveras Lake.
Early in the season, the best place to catch bass is near the power plant’s warm water discharge. Bass are active here even in the chilliest weather, making this one of the best winter bass fishing lakes in the San Antonio area.
The lake has an abundance of shad and crawfish for forage, and anglers often boat fat, football-shaped largemouths pushing 5 pounds. Crankbaits in both crawfish and shad patterns are effective along rip-rap banks.
Calaveras Lake also has a lot of bulrush and cattails along the shoreline, and you can catch bass from March through May by flipping soft plastics in and around the reeds. Creature baits, tubes, lizards and worms are all great options.
This lake does get pretty hot in summer, and the fishing is tough. Focus on deeper structure in 8 to 18 feet of water in summer. The bottom includes submerged road beds, old foundations and other man-made structures.
Calaveras Lake has also been stocked with red drum, also known as redfish, which are arguably responsible for the overall decline in bass fishing since the ‘90s, but present a unique angling opportunity of their own.
Shore fishing and a boat launch are provided at Calaveras Lake Park.
We also rate Calaveras Lake as among the best bluegill and panfish fishing lakes in Texas.
Known more properly as Victor Braunig Lake, 1,350-acre Braunig Lake is a man-made reservoir fed by Calaveras and Chupaderas creeks on the San Antonio River watershed, just south of San Antonio.
Braunig Lake is located just a couple of miles from Calaveras Lake, and much like its larger neighbor, it’s a power plant cooling lake that provides some unique angling opportunities.
The lake has been stocked with largemouth bass along with channel catfish, red drum and hybrid striped bass.
Live bait fishing is very popular on Braunig Lake, and it’s common to catch a mixed bag using live shad, crawfish and other natural baits.
To target largemouth bass specifically, the best time to fish Braunig Lake is January through April. Worms and other soft plastic baits are effective on Carolina rigs, and a lot of bass are also caught on spinnerbaits and cranks.
Naturally, the warm water discharge from the power plant attracts a lot of bass earlier in the season.
Rip-rap around the dam and man-made peninsulas is also productive, and you can find bass around beds of cattail and bulrush a little later in spring.
There’s a decent shot at a 5-pound largemouth early in the year, but this lake gets quite hot in summer, and the fishing is tough until fall comes around and cools things off.
Launch facilities and shore access are available at Braunig Lake Park.
You won’t find Woodlawn Lake on a lot of “Best Bass Lakes in Texas” lists. But that’s okay. This cozy little neighborhood fishing hole doesn’t need the attention.
A man-made lake of about 30 acres, Woodlawn Lake is the centerpiece of Woodlawn Lake Park. It’s a great urban fishing spot in the heart of San Antonio, less than 10 minutes from Downtown, and provides a much-needed oasis in the city.
Woodlawn Lake has been stocked with largemouth bass and channel catfish, and some good-sized fish have been caught here.
You can mostly expect to catch largemouths weighing a pound or two, but you never know what giants lurk in unassuming local ponds like this.
A hiking trail encircles the shoreline in Woodlawn Lake Park and provides a lot of great bank fishing access.
There is also a fishing pier and a small hand-launch for canoes and kayaks. This is a fun little lake to paddle around a cast a worm or jig to shoreline cover.
Woodlawn Lake is also a great place to take kids fishing in San Antonio.
Bass tend to get a lot of fishing pressure here, so finesse baits usually fare best.
Early spring is the best time to fish, and it’s always a good idea to get there first thing in the morning.