Great fishing opportunities are rare in West Texas, where many rivers and streams are dry throughout large portions of the year and you could drive for hundreds of miles without seeing a lake. In the El Paso area, however, anglers in search of fish can find them at several local fishing holes. Options range from tiny ponds to vast reservoirs and the rolling waters of the Rio Grande. A current Texas fishing license is required.
In the Heart of El Paso
El Paso's Ascarate Park is home to 48-acre Ascarate Lake, one of the few fishable waters within the city limits. The lake is stocked with trout in winter and catfish in summer. Anglers may also catch largemouth bass, bluegill, sunfish, crappie and carp. The shoreline is mostly open and accessible, and you can also cast from the park's wheelchair-accessible fishing pier. Canoes and pedal boats are available for rent, and the park includes restrooms, picnic areas and ample parking. A limit of five fish per day is in place on Ascarate Lake, regardless of species, and anglers are restricted to two fishing poles per person.
Pay Lakes and Ponds
Several privately owned lakes and ponds in the El Paso area are open to anglers for a fee. Generally referred to as "pay lakes," these bodies of water are typically well-stocked to ensure that fishermen have plenty of opportunities to hook up with big fish. Options include Rainbow Lake in the town of Anthony, which offers fishing for largemouth bass, bluegill and catfish, and Licon Pond in San Elizario, which is primarily a catfish pond. The Hideaway Lakes near the community of Tornillo also provide excellent catfish angling opportunities. All three sites are within an hour of El Paso. Rates, fishing rules and open hours vary.
The Big Muddy
The Rio Grande is a widely varied river, with different fishing opportunities in different areas. Around El Paso, the river is generally muddy and slow-moving and supports populations of catfish and carp, with a few sunfish and largemouth bass. Several sites throughout the city provide access to the river, including the 8.5-mile Rio Grande River Trail, a hiking and bicycling path that parallels the river and makes it easy for shore fishermen to explore a lot of territory. Downstream of El Paso, the lower portions of the river around Big Bend National Park provide better bass fishing, and the upper Rio Grande in parts of New Mexico is a productive trout stream.
Up in New Mexico
El Paso is less than 10 minutes from New Mexico, and fishermen willing to travel into the neighboring state can access some of the best fishing opportunities in the Southwest. Caballo Lake, about an hour and a half north of El Paso on the Rio Grande, has excellent fishing for walleye, crappie, catfish and largemouth and smallmouth bass, particularly for anglers able to get out on the water by boat. Nearby Elephant Butte Lake -- the largest reservoir in New Mexico -- has similar fishing opportunities. State parks on the shores of both lakes provide boat launch facilities and shore access. A current New Mexico fishing license is required for fishing on all New Mexico waters.