Texas Parks & Wildlife Magazine   


Photo © Sandy Dunham Photography


Saltwater Sampling

Redfish, snapper and snook abound on the Texas coast.

By Art Morris with Randy Brudnicki

For first-class red drum action, check out Matagorda Bay. Often overlooked as a red drum destination, Matagorda Bay offers roughly 235 miles of secluded marsh, river and small stream deltas, sand/shell beaches and high-bank shorelines with some of the best red drum action Texas has to offer.

The bay system is made up of numerous large and small water bodies, including celebrated locales like East Matagorda Bay and Powderhorn Lake — not to mention places for the more adventurous like Lake Austin or Oyster Lake, which combine solitude with good fishing. Numerous small and large streams (such as Tres Palacios, Turtle and Keller creeks) provide favorable habitat for red drum growth and prey production. The combination of prime estuarine habitat, plentiful freshwater input and access to the Gulf makes the bay system a tremendous nursery for a variety of finfish, shrimp and crabs — all to the benefit of red drum.

Other bay-fishing destinations offer a wider variety of amenities and access, but what Matagorda Bay lacks in amenities, it makes up in variety and solitude. Kayakers, motor boaters, shore-based anglers and wade fishers all have a variety of options.

For those looking for sight-casting opportunities, the Colorado River delta allows for some textbook marsh angling opportunities. Blessed with copious amounts of prime red drum habitat and a major pass for water exchange, it’s no small wonder that the red drum fly-fishing water body record here is more than 36 pounds. That’s a good sign that the red drum fishery is alive and well. AM

Photo © Tosh Brown


It’s no secret that crappie hang out in brush piles. Sam Rayburn has its share of naturally grown brush, but not in the deep water that crappie are seeking in summer. When summer temperatures start to reach the century mark in June, crappie go deep to the many privately placed brush piles. With good electronics, you can find them, if you are prepared to spend time searching. A lot of people hire guides on Rayburn to skip the searching and go straight to catching because the guides have those spots marked. Find the right depth and find the fish. If you’re on your own, position the boat off to the side of the brush and cast toward the brush to not spook the fish. Typical crappie baits prevail; however, a small jig tipped with a minnow is the most surefire technique to fill the cooler. RB

Photo © Lefty Ray Chapa


Nowhere else in Texas can you target snook like you can at Port Isabel. If you are interested in high-flying, knuckle-busting snook fishing action, then look no further than the southern tip of Texas and the waters near Port Isabel. Celebrated snook hot spots include the Brownsville Ship Channel, South Bay and the Venice-like waterways within the city of Port Isabel. Known for their aerial acrobatics and bulldog tenacity, snook often take a live shrimp that’s cast near structure. The challenge will be to successfully wrangle one out from its lair! AM

Photo by Sonja Sommerfeld / TPWD


Red snapper season opens June 1 in federal waters and is open year-round in state waters. If the queen of offshore fishing is red snapper, then it is hard to find a better kingdom than Port Aransas. Touted as the “Fishing Capital of Texas,” Port Aransas offers multiple options to access the red snapper season opener. Hosting numerous party boats and charter boats (plus first-class facilities for private boats), Port Aransas provides ample resources to access the generous natural and artificial offshore red snapper holding structures to fit any angler’s budget. AM

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