As Spring and Summer approach, anglers along the Texas coast and the Gulf of Mexico are expecting a record-breaking year of saltwater angling.
Fishermen and women will be loading up their fishing rods, fueling up fishing boats, and polishing their favorite lures before heading out to the warming waters of the Lone Star State.
They are here to fish their favorite jetties, bays, beaches, and bayous for an utterly amazing variety of sea life.
Let’s take a look at some of these sweet-spots, and what we can expect to find biting at each!
Hotspots by Species
Speckled Trout, & Redfish
Where to Find Them: Baffin Bay, Sabine Jetties
When to Go: Late Spring/Summer/Fall (Trout), Year-Round (Redfish)
Baffin Bay, located just South East of Sarita in Kenedy County, is a favorite destination for trophy trout. Both wading and slow-trolling from a boat will find fish hiding out among the scattered rocks.
The Speckled Trout will most likely be gorging themselves on mullet, so similar imitators are a good bet on sunny days when slowly retrieved in shallower (3-5 feet) water.
Jigging near the bottom in deeper (8-10 feet) water can be quite productive, as well.
For more speckled trout action, check out Sabine Jetties, located on the Louisiana border in Sabine (Port Arthur, TX). These jetties offer some of the best trout fishing in all of Texas.
Sabine anglers prefer fishing the inside of the jetties, during the cool mornings, tempting the trout with shad rigs on 1/4oz jig-heads.
Many will move to the Gulf side (requiring a Louisiana fishing license) of the west jetty as the temperature rises.
Texans love their Redfish! And, with redfish counts nearing historic highs, and so many big reds to be found…what’s not to love?
Jetties attract tons of big Redfish, which can be caught on fresh baits, dead or alive, all day long.
Water depth near the end of the Sabine jetties runs around 50 feet, and to fish straight down (the preferred method) you’ll need a good anchor and plenty of weight to keep your bait down near the rocky bottom.
Local anglers typically start with 4-6oz and work up from there depending on the strength of the current.
Around mid-Texas’ Port O’Connor, the clearwater flats are invaded by hordes of hungry Redfish from May-June, as the warming water provides them with a copious supply of baitfish and crab to feast on.
Another favorite season for pulling in bull redfish is Sept-Oct and even into early November.
But, really, you can take these monsters all year long with cut mullet, and bait crab from boats, or fished on long rods from the shore, as well.
Then there’s Chocolate Bay.
15 miles south of Galveston Island and West Bay, this secluded cove is tucked away from the big city bedlam, offering several productive fishing spots.
Chocolate Bay consistently boasts some of the biggest Redfish and Speckled Trout in the state.
Sheepshead, Sharks, Spanish Mackerel, & Pompano
Where to Find Them: Rollover Pass, North and South Padre Islands
When to Go: June to September
The 67yd-wide Rollover Pass is a great spot for anglers who like to wade, with the incoming tide bringing crowds of bait and game fish in from the Gulf.
Speckled Trout, Sheepshead, Sharks, and Flounder will chase forage fish into the pass and happily smack at your plastics, cut-bait, or small fiddler crab, too.
Blue Crab are abundant in these waters, as well.
Tip: If you’re thinking of wading Rollover Pass go earlier in the year, as it can become quite the shopping mall by late fall.
Hit the surf-line during the winter months to find big pompano voraciously sucking down ghost shrimp and sand fleas.
South Padre Island is a microcosm of Lone Star coastal fishing. Fly anglers battle Redfish all year around the waters of Laguna Madre, and anything goes when swarms of Flounder, Redfish, and Speckled Trout arrive each fall.
Surf anglers, especially, love South Padre sneaking out into sheltered grass flats in search of big Trout and Redfish, and occasionally even finding themselves at the business end of that pescatarian torpedo, the Tarpon, hovering around the jetties.
North Padre is the underappreciated little brother, but it’s well worth fishing. Everything from big Sharks to Jack Crevalle visit its waters (and there tend to be fewer crowds, as well.)
Red Snapper & King Mackerel
Where to Find Them: Port Mansfield Offshore
When to Go: Fall
A quick half-hour boat ride will take you from Port Mansfield to the jetties leading out into the Gulf of Mexico, and it’s totally worth the 30 minutes!
Anywhere from 1`-2 miles out (around 40ft of water), and as far as the 9-mile marker is rock-lovin’ Red Snapper country and the favored baits seem to be soft plastic jigs tipped with cut squid.
King mackerel can often be found chasing large schools of “pogies” (a small baitfish also called Menhaden) that churn the surface water in their panicked attempts to escape the feeding Kings.
Silver spoons (1oz) or topwater plugs seem to be the lure of choice for big macs, as they can be cast way out there and retrieved quickly, triggering kings to strike.
Dolphin Fish & Wahoo
Where to Find Them: Padre Island National Seashore
When to Go: May through late October
Stretching from Laguna Atascosa National Wildlife Refuge (near Harlingen), eastward around the Gulf of Mexico to Port O’Connor and Matagorda Bay, is the long, long shoestring of an island known as the Padre Island National Seashore.
Padre is not so much a single destination but hundreds of them, teeming with everything the gulf has to offer.
Some favorite spots include Laguna Madre, Bird Island Basin, and Yarborough Pass.
Dolphin fish can be found anywhere from the Sabine jetties to the Texas/Mexico border, just as soon as the water gets warm enough.
Called Dorado in Spanish, and Mahi Mahi in the Hawaiian Islands, whatever you call them, Dolphinfish are prolific, fun to catch, delicious (IE: Best fish tacos ever) and really, really big!
Able to swim up to 50 miles per hour, Dolphinfish (along with Wahoo) are some of the fastest and fastest-growing fish in the ocean.
Did we mention that they’re big? Dorado can reach seven feet in length and weigh about ninety pounds, however, average catches tend to reach slightly over 36 inches.
Trolling surface baits in the go-to method for hooking big Dolphin Fish, and the locals will tell you that keeping the first one alive, in the water, may keep the whole school from moving away.
Bigger and faster, the Wahoo carries more name tags than Dolphin Fish, including:
- Pacific kingfish
- Tiger fish
- Ocean barracuda
- Malata kingfish
- And just plain ol’ Kingfish
High-speed trolling is the most popular way to catch wahoo, but slow trolling (with dead bait or lures), trolling with live bait, or even dropping jigs will put these monsters in the cooler, as well.
Other fish species you’ll find in Padre Island’s waters include spotted sea trout, black and red drum, flounder, red snapper, and king mackerel.
Where to Find Them: Matagorda Island, Mustang Island, Corpus Christi Bay
When to Go: Summer/Fall
These pre-historic sea monsters of the Gulf Coast begin their migration towards the Yucatan Peninsula mid-spring.
Tarpon call the Texas Coastline home from June to mid-October until the gulf’s temperature drops below their liking.
At 8-feet long and up to 300lbs of solid muscle, setting a hook in one of the oceanic ICBM’s can quickly become a never-to-be-forgotten thrill ride of crazed tail-walking aerobatics and sheer brute force.
Rocky Balboa meets Cirque du Soleil (with a splash of Jaws for good measure).
Nestled between the Gulf of Mexico and San Antonio Bay, Matagorda Island is a premium launching point for anglers seeking them.
With a maw like a 5-gallon bucket and a body to match, 16/0 circle hooks on 50lb braid lines are considered de rigueur when hunting Texas Tarpon, as are big worm jigs and live 8-inch mullet (bring your castnet!)
These coastal waters are home to Spanish Mackerel, Speckled Trout, Red, and Black Drum, and Flounder. Dolphin Fish and Blackfin Tuna can be found a bit further out to sea.
Nearby Mustang Island is another favorite Tarpon hotspot for locals, offering surf fishing, wading, boating out into the gulf or to Corpus Christi Bay, or even just casting around the platforms and standpipes up the coast for big Gaftop Catfish and Red Snapper.
The cornucopia of species here also includes Amberjack, Sheepshead, Mako, Speckled Trout, Blue Marlin, and Flounder.
Texas Coast Fishing Wrap up
Combine the beautiful weather, warm water, and a massive year-around fishery of huge game fish, Texas coast fishing rivals any fishing experience to be found anywhere in the world.
The sheer length of shoreline, variety of fishing tactics, and countless “hotspots” offer a lifetime of pure angling bliss.