Fly Fishing the Texas Coast

The Texas Gulf Coast: Climate, Seasons, and Storms

The average seasonal temperature of the Texas coast rivals that of Florida, and sea breezes make even hot summers pleasant: The average reading in the spring is 73.2 degrees; in the summer, 82.8; fall, 77.4; and winter, 65.5, according to the annually published Texas Almanac.

Two traditional and recognizable weather patterns common to the Texas coast are steady onshore breezes in the summer and northers in winter. These patterns affect access to fishing, water clarity, and water levels in bays, among other things. The prevailing southeasterlies that sweep across the barrier islands between March and November generate the northeast-by-southwest wave patterns that wash across the Gulf side. The smaller, shallower bay systems of the middle and lower coasts receive a measure of protection from the barrier islands. Anglers can often find clear flats and lighter winds on the leeward side of these islands.

Roughly from mid-November through the end of February, polar air masses bellow down to the Gulf from the north. These northers, although usually no more than three days in duration, can generate wind velocities up to 40 or 50 miles per hour (mph), roiling the bays and pushing water from the mainland shore up against the barrier island shorelines. Boaters and anglers can find protected shorelines in stiff southeasterlies, but a "blue norther" muddies bay waters and shuts down virtually all boating and fishing activities.

Violent tropical depressions and full-blown hurricanes also wheel out of the Gulf of Mexico and slam into the Texas coast with regularity, especially during hurricane season, which officially begins June 1 and ends November 30. Among the worst in modern times were Carla, which took 34 lives in 1961, with winds that reached 175 mph; Beulah, which caused 13 deaths and $150 million in property losses in 1967; and Celia, which took 11 lives in 1970. Alicia killed 18 and injured 1,800 in 1983. Records indicate that some sort of tropical storm makes landfall along the Texas coast every three to four years and that such storms reach hurricane force every four to five years and earn the title of severe hurricanes once in a decade or so. Anglers fishing the bays and Gulf waters should be aware of weather conditions and forecasts at all times. Weather can be picture-perfect before a storm, and fishing can be excellent. The fishery is normally unaffected by these major storms, although coastal communities often need time to recover from the ravages of wind, storm surges, and flooding that can result from violent storms.

The Gamefish of The Texas Coast
Besides an abundance of redfish and seatrout—the most popular inshore gamefish—flyfishers take a variety of other species in Texas bays and estuaries, including flounder, black drum, jack crevalle, ladyfish, and sheepshead. With today's large-capacity saltwater reels and specialized fly lines, new vistas have opened for saltwater fly fishing in Texas. Flyfishers now routinely take Spanish mackerel, small grouper, bluefish, little tunny (false albacore), blue runners, and amberjack around jetty rocks and nearshore oil platforms. And when favorable winds and currents bring clear, green water and swarms of baitfish and predator fish close to the beach, flyfishers wade out into the surf, often for day-long action with trout, redfish, pompano, Spanish mackerel, and ladyfish. In the offshore Gulf waters around Texas ports, flyfishers can hook ling (cobia), king mackerel, blackfin tuna, wahoo, and dolphin near weedlines, oil platforms, and anchored shrimp boats.

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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