Fly Fishing the Texas Coast

Lower Coast Flats: South Bay

South Bay is a pristine mangrove-lined estuary located within a 20-minute run by flats boat from launch ramps and marinas on South Padre and Port Isabel. The bay system with its many small creeks offers sightcasting over secluded grass flats. South Bay also is a must stop for South Padre's top snook guides: Gilbert Vela, Gib Little, and Eric Glass look for snook along the estuary's mangrove shorelines and scattered oyster bars. Tide levels are critical in the bay, Vela says. He says spring tides and high water from tropical depressions often set off snook action. When there is good tidal movement, flyfishers should look for redfish, trout, flounder, and snook tight to the shorelines or stationed at ambush points on the edges of tidal creeks.

Brownsville Ship Channel

Sixteen miles long and 38 feet deep, the Brownsville ship channel provides a year-around haven for fish. For a variety of gamefish, the channel is both a river link to the Gulf of Mexico and an inshore reef providing a deepwater sanctuary and a rich food supply. In addition to being one of the best snook fisheries on the coast, the channel is home to red drum, spotted seatrout, ladyfish, jack crevalle, flounder, and black drum and will have occasional shows of juvenile tarpon. There also has been a noticeable increase in recent years in the numbers of gray or mangrove snapper in the channel. The species is attracted to the rocky structure found in many places along the channel's edges.

The summer months are prime times to fish the ship channel from a boat, casting Clouser, Whistler, and Deceiver patterns up against the shoreline and creek mouths for trout, redfish, and snook. Guides Gilbert Vela and Eric Glass target snook around little creeks and shoreline structure of the ship channel as well as along the drop-off."If you see them working, you approach as cautiously as you can," Vela says. "You know you will get at least one hit from a snook, and you might get a red or a trout." Flyfishers should look for snook popping and slapping the water as they attack baitfish massing around the edges of feeder creeks emptying into the channel.

The Brownsville Ship Channel can be accessed from the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department launch ramp on San Martin Lake, located on Texas 48 between Port Isabel and Brownsville.

Published: 29 Apr 2002 | Last Updated: 15 Sep 2010
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication


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