What if I told you that not only could you go fishing in the Texas Panhandle region without a license or permit, but you could also get free fishing gear to use? Sound too good to be true? Well, there are a few little known programs that you can take advantage of to keep your next fishing outing free!


In Texas, you can fish without a license at all State Parks and Wildlife Management Areas that are open to the public. Now, I will back up for just a moment... you will still have to pay park entrance fees if they exist, so that isn't the free part. But, you don't have to spend the money or hassle on that fishing license. Just grab the gear, family and friends, pay the park fee, and your set to go! Free fishing applies to fishing in rivers and creeks, from bank or pier. You may be able to fish for free from a boat on lakes or ponds that are fully enclosed in a state park. Bag and length limits and other regulations still apply. Ask at the park about these restrictions.

In the panhandle, you can fish license-free at the following places:

  • Caprock Canyons State Park, Quitaque, TX (located east of Tulia)
  • Gene Howe Wildlife Management Area (7 miles north of Canadian)
  • Matador Wildlife Management Area, Paducah, TX (22 miles south of Childress)
  • Playa Lakes Wildlife Management Area, Paducah, TX (60 miles southeast of Amarillo)


Texas Parks and Wildlife sponsor a program called the "Tackle Loaner Program." The program loans fishing equipment just like a library does books! You can borrow rods, reels and tackle boxes with hooks, sinkers and bobbers for up to 7 days.

  • Individuals and families can borrow gear at Caprock Canyons State Park (one of our locations above) by calling ahead to (806) 455-1492.
  • Planning to take out a whole group? You can do a group rental that comes with 10 fishing poles from the TPWD Inland Fisheries Office in Canyon. You must reserve 2 weeks in advance by calling (806) 655-4341.