ON THE TEXAS COAST, the only rocky shores you’ll find are jetties built with huge stones. These outcroppings attract game fish of all kinds and the anglers who want to catch them.
One favorite spot for coastal anglers: the Surfside Jetty County Park on Parkview Road in Freeport. It juts out more than a half-mile, with a walkway five feet above the water. There are ample fishing opportunities, such as the redfish run each fall. This is one of the most accessible opportunities for anglers to catch a large “bull” redfish, frequently more than 40 inches long.
As the weather cools, migration starts to push sexually mature, 4-year-old reds out to the Gulf to spawn; more bull reds are caught at this time than at any other time of the year. Most are then released for spawning. You’re allowed to keep only two reds over 28 inches per license year, but you can use your oversize tag to harvest another (check outdoorannual.com).
Reds up to 35 inches can be good eating, though some anglers think larger ones have coarser flesh.
At brazoriacountytx.gov follow the Parks Department link to Surfside Jetty, where there’s a live jetty cam, day-use park rules and a list of nearby license retailers.
Timing: Check the tide chart because the best times change each day. Two hours before the peak of high tide and two hours before low tide are optimal, because water movement triggers the fish to feed.
Clothing: Clothes should be light and loose, as always, but it’s crucial to wear nonslip shoes that will prevent a case of “rock rash” from falling on the slick rocks. Many prefer shoes that let the water flow through.
Gear: Big reds require heavy equipment. Try a 7- to 10-foot surf (shark) rod with a 15/0 circle hook, designed to hook the red in the corner of its mouth for a successful release.
Bait: For best results, cut up a mullet (freshly harvested or frozen) into 2- to 3-inch chunks. Whiting and menhaden also work well.
Barotrauma: Some reds swim deep enough to need depressurizing. Gently insert a thin point through its side, just behind the upper part of the pectoral fin base. Let the air escape without pressing, then put it in the water. Hold the fish upright and face it into the current, gently forcing water through gills. If it doesn't swim away, recover it and try again. Give your fish a fighting chance — learn more in the Catch and Release Tips at outdoorannual.com.
Pro tip: It’s a “reel drag” to continually get your line caught on the jetty rocks — those “granite groupers” never give up, they say. The trick is to reel your leader in quickly. Try a special weight designed for jetties that folds its legs down when you jerk the pole tip.
Maegan Lanham | TPWD
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