Fly Fishing the Texas Coast

Barrier Islands, Back Bays, and Beachfronts
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The 367-mile Texas coast, the third longest coastline among the states, lies on a large, flat plain. Principal ports on the Gulf are Galveston, Corpus Christi, and Brownsville, and Houston is the primary inland port. Along the Gulf of Mexico shoreline, a string of long, narrow barrier islands and peninsulas parallels the mainland. Behind these islands and peninsulas is a series of estuaries—long, shallow embayments at the mouths of large rivers. These bays are rimmed by shallow lagoons commonly called "flats." Accessible to shallow-draft boats and popular with wadefishers, these flats contain sand and mud bottoms, grass beds, oyster reefs, brackish ponds, and tidal creeks—and an abundance of gamefish and shellfish.

Eight large estuaries that receive freshwater inflows from Texas rivers lie along the coast from the Louisiana border to the Rio Grande: The Sabine-Neches and Trinity-San Jacinto estuaries are located on the upper coast; the East Matagorda, Lavaca-Tres Palacios, Guadalupe, Mission-Aransas, and Nueces, on the middle coast; and the Laguna Madre, on the lower coast. The estuaries are a vital link in the complex marine ecosystem. Texas Parks and Wildlife Department studies have shown that virtually all of the fish and shellfish taken by commercial and recreational fishermen in Texas depend on estuaries for at least a portion of their life cycles. The marshlands found between the estuaries and uplands also are vital to the estuarine ecosystem, providing nurseries for red drum, spotted seatrout, and shrimp. The regulation of salinity levels is a critical function of freshwater inflows, enabling the survival of many organisms that cannot live either in fresh water or in water with the salinity level of the open Gulf.


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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