O N THE SOUTHERN COAST OF TEXAS —which for my purposes includes Galveston and Freeport where land ends and the Gulf of Mexico begins—July is usually the “middle” of the summer season.
Some years, our famous hot weather has been well established earlier, in June, and the most intense heat comes with August and sometimes continues through September. However, July sees summer heat established and needing to be reckoned with.
Luckily for fishermen, our best saltwater fishing will be here to balance out the hot weather. Both inshore and offshore fishing will be seeing their peak times. More Texans and visiting fishermen will be enjoying salt water than at any other time of the year because school attendance is reduced.
Although serious blue water angling can be time and cost intensive, there are easier and more reasonably prices alternatives for warm water action. Coastal streams, from our various rivers to smaller bayous, will have water that is much more saline in mid-summer. This lures gamefish and the forage species they feed on farther upstream.
Pan fish and small gamefish from flounder and croaker to speckled trout and red drum will inhabit these inshore habitats in large numbers. Larger game like tarpon and sharks of very respectable sizes can be found either in these coastal streams or the bays they empty into.
Less glamorous to most, but very much appreciated by a select few anglers, species like stingrays and alligator gar can be found in these “inshore haunts.” These species provide serious stout tackle action at budget prices.
Gar will be best sought in coastal bayous and tidal rivers. Rays will be found in deep holes in bays and near outlets to the Gulf, such as jettied passes. With the exception of big gars, most of these species will travel back and forth through river mouths and passes between the bays and Gulf.
Tidal water fish such as speckled trout and redfish of smaller sizes will be the real stars of inshore fishing for the summer. These fish will be hooked in tidal streams well into what might be considered “fresh water”, and also in the surf and beyond.
Light tackle anglers after fast action and good eating need only some bait, good terminal tackle, or possibly a selection of proven artificial lures such as spoons, spinner baits, and fish-imitating plugs. Work them under bait schools marked by bird action or surface commotion.
More specialized action can be found around pier pilings or jetties in the form of smaller black drum and sheepshead. These prefer bait to lures, but it doesn’t always have to be live bait.
Moving outside the passes, the surf line offers tremendous sport fishing opportunities for trout, reds, tarpon, sharks, and sometimes offshore gamefish such as king mackerel. Using live or dead bait and tackle heavy enough for longer casts past the shoreline sandbars can be slow fishing. However, it often pays off in a big way.
Surf sinkers are used by the pros to hold baits in the surf. Leaders of heavy mono or single strand wire built with a three-way swivel as their center point are often fitted with circle hooks for their ability to hook fish without any special effort from the angler.
Tidal movement gets fish feeding in the currents, and it is even better at night—falling or rising. Some real trophies are taken by surf anglers each year. The average surf catch will be larger and stronger than fish most often encountered in the bays.
For anglers with a boat—and a well developed sense of water-borne caution—either running through a natural pass or launching in a gentle surf can yield access to “hot” fishing action. All the larger species treasured by surf casters can often be taken in even greater numbers a bit farther out.
Some nearshore structure will shelter red snappers of legal size, along with good numbers of sand trout. Trolling close to shore might yield catches of Spanish mackerel and jack crevalle—even bonito at times.
LOCATION: Structure in the form of pilings, piers, jetties, or deep channels bordered by bay reef systems. The surf itself is a great structure, providing fish with cover and bait species.
SPECIES: Inshore waters will hold trout, reds, flounder, croakers, sheepsheads, and drum. The surf adds bull reds, tarpon and jack crevalles, and further offshore sees king mackerels, bonitos, red snappers and ling.
BAIT: Natural baits common to the fishing area, either purchased or caught on site are best, with live offerings having premium returns. Good plastic and metal lures of many types also yield results.
BEST TIME: Early or late, with the late period running all night, can all pay off. Generally, the heat of midday should be avoided.
Email Mike Holmes at [email protected]