L et there be no doubt about it—June is SUMMER on the upper Texas Coast.
Although temperatures are mild compared to late summer days, it will already be getting serious. Anglers need to exercise care in exposure to both the heat of the day and the rays of the sun.
It is amazing how much cooler a boat cockpit can be when covered by an even a small canvas top. Sunscreens and specialized clothing designed to mitigate the effects of reflected sunlight off the water’s surface will be more important in later months, but June is none too early to begin the practice of using them seriously.
For much the same reasons, this is a month when the best fishing begins early and late in the day, on overcast days, or even at night. An early summer morning spent wading the surf with schools of bait chasing speckled trout is an event worth remembering, but remember that the fishing cools off as the temperature heats up.
Specks are not the only warm weather visitors to the surf. Everything from big sharks to tarpon might be encountered this month. In many years of long rod surfcasting I was gifted with at least seeing most of the more exotic species, and catching quite a few. I beached a 27-pound king mackerel in the June surf one summer while soaking a live mullet for bull reds. I watched my partner Dave Shaeffer do battle with a trophy class tarpon on similar gear another occasion.
The big redfish will be more numerous toward the end of August most years, but some can be hooked all through the summer. Jack crevalle is one of my personal favorite surf fish, even though they are not really edible because they fight harder than just about any other fish, of any size. Jacks will terrorize the baitfish of the area between the second and third bars off the beach, running through the packed masses of mullet like a mowing machine. The jacks scatter the mullet, maiming and mutilating them; and other fish from reds and sharks to big stingrays will be caught while seeking the easy pickings.
Perhaps the most ominous feeling I ever had while surf fishing was when I was harnessed to a 12/0 shark rig one night while the drag first sounded a few tentative “clicks.” Then it screamed in agony as an unseen monster took off effortlessly with a big chunk of jackfish.
Another such “run” on a 6/0 rig was even more impressive. I couldn’t raise the rod high enough to have someone attach the harness snaps to the reel lugs without a helper putting his shoulder under it. Not much time elapsed before the line was all gone, parting at the spool with a loud snap and leaving me on my back in the (luckily) soft sand
Yes, there are monsters in the summer surf, and even the ugliest of them all—the big stingray—will put a bend in your rod, a “kink” in your back – and food on the table. If fighting heavy waves and strong currents to hook a fish is not what you really came for, trout, rat reds, croakers, whiting, gafftop catfish, and smaller sharks are there to be enjoyed as both sport and food.
I once barely missed capturing a big tripletail that was following a discarded water cooler floating to shore when my cast net line tangled on the throw—probably from too much excitement on my part—but I still enjoyed the sight of such a fish just off the beach.
Out Gulf beaches are not as accessible to fishermen as they once were. Still, there are parts of Galveston and the beach across Sal Luis Pass, the beachfront piers and rock groins that offer the angler a chance to challenge the elements and the fish, one-on-one, that few other forms of our sport can equal. If you fail to take advantage of the opportunity June offers, make plans for July!
Location: The surf will “heat up” first in June, also passes leading to the Gulf. Piers, jetties, and rock groins are walkways to deeper water that even a long cast can reach.
Species: Redfish, speckled trout, flounder, croaker, whiting, shark, tarpon—the list is a long and exciting one.
Best Baits: Live shrimp, dead bait or live baitfish caught in a cast net, the specifics depending on the quarry—but cast man-made offerings if that is your preference.
Best Times: June tides usually give good water movement coming in or going out. Mornings and evenings are beginning to be the best periods, along with nighttime.
Email Mike Holmes at
Email Mike Holmes at [email protected]