Fly Fishing the Texas Coast

Middle Coast Flats: East Matagorda Bay to the Upper Laguna Madre Part 2

Separated by deepwater passes at Port O'Connor and Port Aransas, the barrier islands that front the middle coast estuaries are Matagorda, San Jose, Mustang, and Padre islands. The rich middle coast fisheries and bird life are nurtured by five major estuariesvital nurseries for shrimp, crabs, and finfish that are the food source for prolific gamefish populations. In the 1600s the Karankawa Indiansprobably the first surf fishermen on these shoressmeared alligator fat on their bodies to ward off mosquitoes so they could harvest the rich marine life on the barrier islands.

The northernmost two islands in the main barrier chain, Matagorda and San Jose, can be reached only by boat. Matagorda Island is approximately 38 miles long and is bounded on the north by Pass Cavallo and on the south by Cedar Bayou. The northern two-thirds of the island is open to the public and is accessible from Port O'Connor. Primitive camping opportunities are available. A passenger crewboat operated by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department provides round-trip service to the north end of the island. The south end of Matagorda Island is now managed as a national wildlife refuge and environmental research center. San Jose Island is bounded on the north by Cedar Bayou and on the south by Aransas Pass, a deepwater channel jettied in 1887 that tankers and freighters use as an entryway to reach the port of Corpus Christi.

Mustang Island is separated from the southern tip of San Jose Island by the Aransas Pass jetties. The fishing resort town of Port Aransas is located on the northern end and is connected with the town of Aransas Pass by a ferry and a causeway and with Corpus Christi by a road down the center of the island, which connects with the John F. Kennedy Causeway. Padre Island, which stretches from Corpus Christi all the way to the Mexican border, is the longest barrier island in the world.

The middle Texas coast has a rich angling history that has been enhanced in recent years by the popularity of fly fishing on the shallow flats around Port O'Connor, Rockport, Port Aransas, and Corpus Christi. This locale's major attractions include the Aransas National Wildlife Refuge and the Padre Island National Seashore. A ferry operated by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department at Port O'Connor takes anglers to fish the waters around Matagorda Island. Goose Island State Park near Rockport is one of the most popular jumping-off points for anglers in shallow-draft boats who are headed for the backcountry tidal lakes and shorelines around the refuges.

Among the middle coast institutions that have served anglers for decades are the Tarpon Inn at Port Aransasa world-class fishing lodge at the turn of the century that is now listed on the register of historic placesand Kline's in Rockport, a popular restaurant where anglers and guides still gather for predawn breakfasts and strategy sessions.

The arrival on the scene in recent years of Redfish Lodge on Copano Bay, a modern resort that caters to flyfishers, as well as J&J Tackle Town in Rockport and Gruene Outfitters in Corpus Christispecialty tackle stores that have fully stocked lines of saltwater fly-fishing equipmentattests to the growing interest in saltwater fly fishing along the Texas coast.


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