Fly Fishing the Texas Coast

Fly Fishing the Surf: Padre Island (North End)

Padre Island is located about 20 miles from downtown Corpus Christi. The longest barrier island in the world, it is a low, barren, storm-

swept strip of sand that extends 113 miles southward from Corpus Christi, almost to Mexico. It is broken only by the Mansfield Channel at Port Mansfield.

On this 60-mile stretch of beach, which is accessible by car, flyfishers will find summer and fall days when there is a modest surf breaking and clear green water tight to the beach the best time to visit. On such days,"bull" reds that are in the 35-inch class run the troughs between the bars, and big female trout cruise the washouts and dead-end guts (carved-out ridges and holes that offer ambush points for larger gamefish) waiting to ambush baitfish.

Padre Island National Seashore

Padre Island National Seashore is an 80-mile-long, virtually undeveloped segment of the barrier island that begins just below Corpus Christi. Visitors are allowed to travel by vehicle along the entire length of the Seashore, from the entrance near Corpus Christi southward to the Mansfield Channel, a manmade pass that bisects the barrier island. Four-wheel-drive vehicles are recommended for travel on all but the first 5 miles of the beach, due to soft sand and loose shell. To aid beach travel and rescue operations, large markers indicate cumulative mileage at 5-mile intervals. Park rangers recommend that all beach travelers carry shovels, jacks, and tow ropes or chains, in case they should get stuck.

Fall is an ideal time to plan a surf-fishing trek to the Seashore. Fishing is especially good a day or two after a mild, early season norther has calmed the prevailing southeasterly winds and knocked down the pounding surf.

Little Shell Beach

Little Shell Beach begins about 20 miles down the island and is so called because of the mass of broken clam shells that form the beachfront. Higher ridges and washouts at the water's edge serve as prime fish-holding structures along Little Shell. The section can be difficult to traverse without a four-wheel-drive vehicle because of the loose shell.

Perhaps because of its relative proximity to the visitor center at Malaquite Beach as well as its fish-holding features, Little Shell Beach is one of the most popular surf-fishing stops on all of Padre Island National Seashore. On prime days in the fall, flyfishers can find action with trout, redfish, ladyfish, pompano, jack crevalle, and Spanish mackerel all along this stretch of beach.

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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