PWF Featured in Tyler Morning Telegraph

Steve Knight interviewed Private Water Fishing President Steve Alexander for a feature about PWF as an alternative to big boat ownership:  "Water Water Everywhere"


Water Water Everywhere: Organization offers fishermen a chance to fish private lakes in Texas

Steve Knight


Feb 16, 2024



Private Water Fishing
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Private Water Fishing offers fishermen a chance to fish private lakes around Texas, with many in the Northeast Texas area. One of those, Hat and Star Ranch near Gilmer, produced this 11-10 last spring.

Private Water Fishing/Courtesy

The dream of every fisherman is to someday own a stylish bass boat to pull behind a nice truck.

The reality is with new boat prices starting about $60,000 and going up to more than $100,000 with accessories, many are left on the bank as their dream floats by.

There is a Plan B, Private Water Fishing, and it is especially a good option for East Texas fishermen.

“I have had it now for 14 years, but the club has been around for 27 years,” explained Steve Alexander, PWF president.

PWF offers fishermen access to more than 100 privately owned lakes in Texas and Oklahoma, with about two-thirds in East and North Texas.

“Tyler is in the heart of some of the best lakes,” Alexander said.

The organization has lakes ranging in size from about 10 to 150 acres. It offers fishermen a chance to fish lakes not feeling the pressure of public waters.

“We exist for two reasons, for fishermen that may not have pro skills and the solitude of having a place to yourself. We say that we offer one lake, one day, totally private,” Alexander explained.

“Most of our lakes are in the 20-30 acre size. That is what we like, but we have one in Laneville that is almost 70 acres, one in Cleburne that is 50 acres and we are about to open one in Daingerfield that is 50 acres,” he added.

Private Water Fishing requires fishermen to pay an annual membership along with a day-use fee that varies depending on the lake. The lowest day fee is $70 and the highest is $275, with the majority ranging from $110 to $130. The price is based on the management effort by the lake owner.

“That is how the landowner gets compensated,” Alexander said.

The fee covers fishing from daylight to dark for a single party, but fishermen can also book half-day trips for three-quarters of the day rate. Youth 12 and under fish free and 13 to 17 fish for half price.

Fishermen are required to bring their own tackle. In most cases the lakes have a jon boat available, but fishermen must bring their own trolling motor and battery.


Some of the lakes have smaller bass boats with foot-controlled trolling motors that fishermen may use, while some have ramps that will accommodate a 17-foot boat while others are good enough to launch a full-sized bass boat.

In all cases fishermen can bring their own kayak to fish from.

Alexander said along with traditional tackle fishing about 10% of the membership is fly fishermen, and that number is growing.

The primary focus of all the lakes is bass. In some cases, fishermen are allowed to keep bass under either 14 or 16 inches depending on the management plan. Harvest is a big component in fisheries management and fishermen are encouraged to keep fish until the annual harvest quota is met. It is so important that PWF offers $5 off a fisherman’s next trip if they will keep and report their catch on a harvest log maintained at each lake.

But not all the lakes are managed strictly as trophy fisheries.

“It is like chocolate, vanilla and strawberry. Some are for numbers and some are quality, 7-, 8-, 9-pounds or bigger. Some owners are spending more money on forage and other things for quality, and others are numbers lake where you can take a kid and go catch 50 1-pound bass,” Alexander said.

For those who like variety about half the lakes also have crappie and catfish, and there is no size or harvest limit on those.

Alexander said the majority of members are between 40 and 60 years old. They go on an average of 4½ trips per year, with some going as many as 50 or 60 times.

The biggest demand for the top quality lakes comes on the weekends during the spawning period, but in most cases a lake can be booked within 48 or 72 hours of use. To keep from over-fishing, trips to any lake are limited to 10 per month with back-to-back trips only allowed during early spring.

The organization has also reduced pressure by adding 40 lakes in the last three years with several more coming this year. Among those being added this spring is a property near Fairfield with a 60-acre and two 35-acre lakes.

For those wanting to travel to try new waters there are also lakes in the Hill Country near Austin and San Antonio and in the Houston area.

For more information go online to or call 214-871-0044.