Fly Fishing the Texas Coast
In contrast to the closed bays, remote barrier island tidal lakes, and oyster reefs that characterize the middle stretch of the coast from Port O'Connor to Corpus Christi, the lower Texas coast is dominated by a long, open, river-like estuary called the Laguna Madre, which is shielded from the Gulf of Mexico by Padre Island, the world's longest barrier island. One of the chief characteristics that sets this area apart from the upper and middle coasts is that much of the lower coast lies along privately owned ranchlands, requiring anglers to travel substantial distances by flats boats to reach productive flats and shorelines. Many guides and recreational boaters, especially those traveling south from Corpus Christi, think nothing of making round-trips of 60 to 70 miles daily just to reach prime flats. With an average depth of 2.5 feet, the Laguna Madre's sand-and-grass flats are a flyfisher's dream. Shallow-running flats boats, some equipped with towers and poling platforms to provide a better vantage point for locating fish on the expansive flats, are a favorite among guides and recreational anglers on this part of the coast.
From its northern end at the JFK Bridge in Corpus Christi, the Laguna Madre runs southward for 100 miles to the resort community of South Padre Island, near the Mexican border. At South Padre Island, the Laguna Madre converges just above the Rio Grande with a pass to the Gulf. The pass is close to a small, enclosed estuary and a deepwater ship channel that provide a variety of gamefish habitats. Other important angling features along this upper stretch of coast include the King Ranch shoreline, Baffin Bay, Graveyard, and Kenedy Land Cut.
The Laguna Madre plays a vital role as a nursery for a variety of gamefish. It is famous for the size and abundance of its seatrout as well as for holding large herds of redfish. The lower coast fishery, supported by the Laguna Madre estuary, has thrived despite devastating freezes in 1983 and 1989 and more recent bouts with a nontoxic but water-staining algal bloom known as"brown tide."
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication