Tips and tricks for fishing the San Antonio River’s Mission Reach

The River Authority
Nov 01, 2023

The San Antonio River Authority would love to see you out utilizing the river as a resource for fishing! Luckily, there are many places along the San Antonio River where you can go fishing and many different fish species you’ll likely catch.

Did you know that the fish you catch in the San Antonio River are perfectly safe to eat? It’s true! So, let’s begin our fishing journey on the Mission Reach!

Along the paths near Confluence Park, there are great places to fish. This area has plenty of space for you to cast, and the habitat in this area is an excellent place for fish to live. You can even look for signs of fish around a site by looking at the competition sitting above you in the trees. Many birds like to hunt for fish in this area and can lead you straight to a catch!

Fishing area view of Confluence Park.

Confluence Park

Continuing down the Mission Reach, you can fish at Padre Park, where there is ample space for you to cast your line. Fishing spots in this area are along the pathways and near the bank.

Fishing port at Padre Park

Padre Park

Acequia Park is another excellent place to fish. This park has fishing spots along the pathways and banks and even has a couple of boardwalks that get you out right over the water. This area does get a few kayakers who fish from their boats, but there is plenty of space for everyone!

Fishing port at Acequia Park

Acequia Park Boardwalk

We encourage all anglers to follow Leave-No-Trace guidelines and “Pack it in, Pack it out.” If you have any trash, please dispose of it in the proper trash cans or take it back home with you to throw it out. There are PVC pipes set up along the river specifically for fishing lines that are labeled with a blue sign that says, “Keep our waterways tangle-free; recycle your fishing line responsibly.”

Fishing Sign

Not only is disposing of your leftover fishing line helpful for you and other anglers so we don’t get tangled up, but it is also beneficial for keeping wildlife in the area safe, and by doing so, you play a significant role in the health of one of the largest restoration projects in the country!

If you are interested in fishing but have never gone before, the River Authority partners with Fin Addict Angler Foundation, which hosts angler education days at some of the parks mentioned above multiple times a year. During these angler education days, the public can stop by and learn all the different parts of fishing from dedicated anglers. The public is encouraged to visit booths to learn about stewardship, fishing safety, knot tying, and casting techniques before being handed a fishing rod and bait to go fishing.

Young child smiles at her fish catch

The River Authority also works with TPWD to provide Angler Education Instructor Kits that can be checked out by teachers/group leaders. To learn more about “Tackle Loaner Sites for Groups,” please check out the Tackle Loaner Program.

What fish will I catch?

We have covered what you need to go fishing on the Mission Reach and where you might throw out a line, but what species are anglers likely to encounter? Various species of bass, sunfish, and catfish would be the most common to catch on a hook and line throughout the basin, so let’s dive a little deeper into these groups of fish.

All about that Bass

Bass are often highly sought after by anglers, as they are aggressive ambush predators that put up a good fight. Bass are commonly targeted with a spin rod using spinners, crank baits, and plastic worms, or with a fly rod using poppers, streamers, and woolly buggers. Bass species in the San Antonio River Basin include Guadalupe bass, largemouth bass, and spotted bass. Anglers are more likely to catch Guadalupe bass and spotted bass in faster-flowing water, while largemouth bass are generally found in slower-moving water habitats.

The River Authority encourages catch and release for all bass species due to ongoing efforts to revive their populations. 

Guadalupe Bass

Guadalupe bass, the State Fish of Texas (left), and largemouth bass (right)

Bass can also grow to be quite large! During our three years of conducting Mission Reach Intensive Nekton Surveys, we captured Guadalupe bass up to 15.4 inches, largemouth bass up to 18.9 inches, and spotted bass up to 12.2 inches!

Spotted bass fish

Spotted bass

Here comes the Sunfish

Sunfish are a bit smaller than bass, but they belong to the same family (Centrarchidae) and are equally aggressive eaters. This makes them a great fish to go after, especially for junior anglers! These fish can be caught relatively easily on live bait like worms or grubs using a bobber or on artificial lures that imitate worms or flies. We have eight different species of sunfish in the San Antonio River Basin, with the most common being longear sunfish, bluegill, redbreast sunfish, green sunfish, and warmouth. Males in breeding conditions often sport vibrant colors and markings to attract females and can often be seen guarding eggs over circular nests. Although sunfish are small, they are fierce defenders of their young and pack a punch when caught on a hook and line!

Longear Sunfish

Longear sunfish

Bluegill fish


Green Sunfish

Green sunfish



Catch the purrfect Catfish

Catfish are another great group of fish for anglers of all ages to target, as they are willing biters that require minimal equipment and effort to catch. They are often targeted by using live worms attached to a sinker that keeps the bait still on the bottom. Channel catfish and flathead catfish would be the two most common species for an angler to capture in the San Antonio River – both of which can be caught at large sizes. According to Texas Parks and Wildlife, the current All-Tackle Records for the San Antonio River for these species include a 24-inch, 6.5-pound channel catfish and a 31-inch, 11.8-pound flathead fatfish!

Channel Catfish

Channel catfish

River Authority Staff holds up flathead catfish

Flathead catfish

Hopefully you now have the information (and fishing license!) you will need to get fishing on the San Antonio River’s Mission reach. So, water you waiting for? Stay tuned for more blogs on fishing and in the meantime, we hope to see you on the river.