Mastering Fishing at San Antonio’s Woodlawn Lake

As I sit here on the shore of Woodlawn Lake, the early morning sun peeking over the cypress and oak trees, my weathered fishing hat casting its familiar shadow, I’m reminded of the countless days and nights I’ve spent on waters just like these. For an old fishing dog like me, there’s nothing that stirs the soul quite like the stillness of a misty lake at dawn, the possibility of the day’s catch hanging thick in the air.

I’ve been fishing these Texas waters for over 40 years now, and in that time, I’ve come to know Woodlawn Lake in San Antonio just about as well as the back of my hand. As one of the most popular fishing holes in the area, this 62-acre lake has drawn anglers from far and wide to try their luck. But as any seasoned fisherman will tell you, luck has little to do with it. Those who regularly land a full stringer of bass, catfish, and maybe even the occasional trout know these waters inside and out.

As climate change and urban development continue to threaten fish populations across the country, sustainable fishing practices are more vital than ever to preserve our beloved pastime. We all have a duty to educate the next generation of anglers on how to carry on our traditions while protecting Woodlawn Lake’s delicate ecosystem. That’s why I’m putting pen to paper today—to pass on what I’ve learned over the years to help you truly master fishing on this San Antonio gem.

Channel Catfish: Putting Up a Fight Since 1887

If you’re looking to hook into one of Woodlawn Lake’s feistiest gamefish, then channel catfish should be at the top of your list. These whiskered bottom feeders have been swimming in Texas waters since the lake was first formed in 1887, and they continue to thrive here today thanks to regular stockings by Texas Parks & Wildlife.

The best approach for tempting ol’ whiskers is bait fishing—I’m talking nightcrawlers, chicken livers, cut bait like shad or skipjack herring, or even stink baits like blood bait or dip bait. The key is fishing for these offerings right on the bottom, since that’s where cats spend their time scavenging.

Focus your efforts on prime catfish spots like creek channels, submerged structures, laydowns, and the dam area. The old river channel runs right through the heart of the lake, giving cats plenty of ambush points to attack baitfish and crawdads. There’s no better feeling than that telltale tick on the line as a lunker channel inhales the bait and tries to find the nearest snag to wrap you around.

Set the hook hard when you feel that bite and hold on tight! These lake dwellers are known for their big shoulders and even bigger fights. Make sure you’ve got at least a medium-heavy power rod paired with 20-30 lb test line. I prefer baitcasting gear for the added leverage when wrestling feisty catfish, but beefy spinning tackle gets the job done too.

Just be ready for a rugged tussle once you hook into these stocked scrappers – it’s not uncommon to land channel cats here over 15 pounds!

Largemouth Bass: The Bread and Butter of Woodlawn Lake

Of course, we can’t talk about fishing Woodlawn Lake without mentioning its legendary largemouth bass fishery. From 1-pounders hugging the shoreline to hawgs lurking out on the old river ledges, this lake has bass in all shapes and sizes. And they’re hungry!

The bass bite really fires up in the spring when water temperatures start warming into that magical 60- to 70-degree range. The fish are moving shallow, fanning beds, and aggressively guarding their spawning territory. I’ve seen many 4- and 5-pound lunkers caught during this peak spring bite.

As far as lures go, it’s hard to beat a big paddle tail swimbait in shad patterns or a vibrating jig to cover water and draw reaction strikes. Of course, never forget the versatility of soft plastic stick worms in darker colors – rig ’em Texas style or wacky and work ’em slowly along bottom contours and submerged structure.

During the summer months, bass go deep to find their comfort zone, so that’s when I break out the crankbaits, deep diving jerkbaits, jigging spoons, and Carolina rigs to probe the lower half of the water column along creek channels, points, and humps in 12 to 25 foot depths.

And don’t overlook the importance of having a good topwater frog ready for duty – those big bucketmouths love slurping down a tasty frog when one skitters over their lily pad fortress!

Rainbow Trout: A Cool Weather Bonus Catch

One extra treat Woodlawn Lake offers in the winter months is the ability to catch stocked rainbow trout. The Texas Parks & Wildlife Neighborhood Fishin’ program stocks catchable 10-inch trout every year between November and February.

To target these tasty stockers, think small—I’m talking in-line spinners, small spoons, and dough baits like PowerBait fished under a bobber. Work these lures and baits along creek channels, under the spillway, and anywhere that cool water is flowing into the lake.

The trout won’t stick around all winter – they get caught up quickly – but if you hit the lake soon after a stocking, your chances are great. And there’s no better fish for a shore lunch than a freshly caught rainbow!

Key Tactics for Consistent Success

Beyond targeting specific species, there are some additional tips, tricks and gear considerations that will up your catch rates on Woodlawn Lake.

Weather and seasonal patterns play a big role; fishing is often best during times of transition when water temperatures are fluctuating, like spring and fall. Pay attention to significant cold fronts or heat waves and how fish behavior changes during these events.

In the warmer months, focus your efforts early and late, when bass and catfish are most active. Night fishing is also extremely effective, especially during brighter moon phases.

Perhaps the best tip I can offer is to pay attention to fishing forecasts and bite predictions from reliable sources like MyRadar and FishingBooker. These technology tools can tell you when fish in your area are expected to be biting and what patterns are working. Leverage them to your advantage!

As far as gear, you’ll want to equip yourself with a variety of rod and reel combos to handle everything from ultralight trout tackle to heavy catfish and bass gear. Mix up your presentations from still fishing and casting to fly fishing; versatility is key!

And lastly, while Woodlawn Lake offers excellent bank access, having a small boat, kayak or even float tube opens up more water and possibilities to find where those lunkers are hiding on any given day.

Preserving Woodlawn Lake’s Future

As a long-time angler who cut his teeth fishing Central Texas lakes like Woodlawn, it brings me immense joy to see families, friends, and fellow sportsmen enjoying this urban oasis today the same way I did some 40 years ago.

We have a shared responsibility to ensure Woodlawn Lake can be enjoyed for another hundred years – by following sound catch and release practices, using the proper tackle, and protecting the shoreline habitat. If we all do our small part, this beloved fishery will continue to thrive, creating priceless memories for generations to come.

So next time you’re rigging up that rod and reel for a day on Woodlawn’s waters, take a moment to appreciate all who came before us that made it possible. And maybe say a little prayer too – to the fishing gods – so that your next cast is the one that just might land you that fish of a lifetime!

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