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Blanco State Park is a public recreational area located in the heart of Texas Hill Country. It hugs about a mile’s stretch of the Blanco River and features grassy plains with oaks, juniper, mesquite, and cypress trees; and hills filled with cedar and pecan trees. Although relatively small at a little over one hundred acres, the park is quite popular among outdoor enthusiasts with camping, hiking, picnicking, boating, swimming, and fishing. The park also features a wide array of wildlife including deer, armadillos, squirrels, skunks, opossum, raccoon, rabbit, fox and a variety of birds and fish species. Aside from locals, most visitors come by way of Austin from the east, and San Antonio from the south as the park is just an hour’s drive away from these two Texan cities.
Blanco State Park was first developed as an outdoor recreational area in the 1930s by the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC), a public work relief program created by Franklin Delano Roosevelt to help unemployed young men go back to work during the depression. About 177 CCC workers and a corps of engineers worked on the project for about a year. They cleared the area and constructed dams, bridges, a concession house, a bathhouse, seven camping grounds, and a seventy-foot table—most of which can still be seen in the park to this day. The workers are also responsible for many of the shade and fruit trees scattered around the campsites and other public areas in the park. When the CCC completed their job, the Texas Park and Wildlife Department took over and maintained (and sometimes even upgraded) the facilities throughout the years. Today, the park remains to be a favorite outdoor recreational hub for both locals and tourists alike.
The main attraction in Blanco State Park is definitely the sparkling river that flows through it. The water is calm, cool, and clean; that’s just perfect for swimming and boating. Bordering the river are large overhanging cypress trees that offer shade for swimmers and loungers against the hot Texan sun, not to mention they add to the overall soothing ambiance of the park. Aside from its natural beauty, the park also ensures convenience - with twenty-one camping grounds, thirty-seven picnic sites and ten trailer hook-ups.
The river that passes through the Blanco State Park is also great for recreational fishing. With access to the Blanco River, anglers can enjoy fishing straight from the banks, from a pier, from a boat, or while wading through the shallow areas of the water. Some of the fish species usually caught here by anglers include largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, Guadalupe bass, white bass, channel catfish, carp, crappie, spotted gar, and sunfish—most of which are native species in the river. Another popular target here is rainbow trout, which is not surprising considering the healthy population of rainbow trout found in the waters of Blanco River, thanks mainly to the continuous restocking of the species every winter by the Texas Park and Wildlife Department.
Before heading out to fish in the park, you must know the fishing regulations that are strictly enforced here. Although there are no bagging and size limitations for catching a sunfish, catching other targets is regulated. For instance, catching more than five largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, Guadalupe bass, and rainbow trout (of any combination) in one day of fishing is prohibited. Bagging less than fourteen inches of these fish is also not allowed. Channel catfish, on the other hand, has a daily bag limit of twenty-five and a minimum size limit of twelve inches.
Another important thing to remember before fishing here is that gas-powered motorboats are not allowed in the waters of the park. So if you’re planning on casting your line from a boat, you can only do so on a kayak, a canoe, or an electric-powered boat. However, you won’t need a fishing license if you’re going to be fishing within the boundaries of Blanco State Park. Lastly, if you don’t own fishing gear (or if you’ve left it at home), you don’t have to worry as rods, reels, tackle, and other fishing essentials are available for rent or sale at the park store.
Fishing is pretty amazing for most of the year, especially during spring and fall when most fish are known to be more abundant and active in the Blanco River. Although summers too can also be productive, your success will, of course, depend on the water level as it can really be quite dry during this time of the year. So if you’re planning on fishing in the summer, be sure to take lots of sunscreen with you or wear protective gear to shield yourself from the scorching sun.
Blanco State Park is outdoor recreational heaven that draws in hundreds of visitors during peak seasons alone. If you’re planning to take your family on a nature trip, this may very well be your best bet. Here are some of the fun activities you can enjoy in Blanco State Park:
Enjoy a day or two of fun and relaxation under the sun as you’re surrounded by some of the best natural views in the Texas Hill Country—all while catching a fish or two for dinner.
Unplug from the hectic outside world and reconnect with Mother Nature far away from the bright lights of the city. There’s nothing quite like camping to recharge.
Enjoy exploring the natural beauty around you on foot—truly a great workout that not only improves your physical health but calms the senses as well.