JULY BEGINS WITH THE CELEBRATION of our great country’s origin, and the fireworks and hoopla that mark this joyous time also usher in some of the “hottest” saltwater fishing of the year on the upper Texas coast.
There is magic in the Gulf waters this month. Probing the shallow back bay waters and feeder streams or working the mostly calm surf beyond the fabled third sandbar brings happiness to just about any angler. It’s also true for those exploring the deeper waters beyond for fish species of all sizes and types.
We should plan our trips for early and late in the day to avoid the worst of the summer sun and find feeding speckled trout and redfish—either from a drifting shallow-draft boat or wade fishing. Live bait or fresh dead natural bait under popping corks will bring action from either species.
Shallow bay waters over oyster reefs and the expansive sandbars behind inlets such as San Luis Pass will be productive. Closer to the pass will occasionally bring a big jack or a school of mackerel into the mix. Sand trout and croakers will usually add fun on very light tackle and support a tasty fish fry.
The summer surf is a wonderful location for sport fishermen, with these same fish being targets for larger species as well as for fishermen. This is not the prime time for “bull” reds, but they’ll still be among the catches, along with hard fighting jack crevalle.
Tarpons will often be seen jumping in the surf. They’ll sometimes take a big live mullet, or even a fresh chunk of cut mullet. For those who seek the pull of a big fish that might be more commonly encountered, sharks of various sizes work the summer surf—some of them reaching “monster” size. Less glamorous, but just as sporting, are stingrays, which can be a strong challenge to fight even on stout tackle.
In calm summer seas, even fairly small boats can be used to reach out a bit farther from the beach as long as the operators are safe and careful. For those who would rather keep their feet dry, fishing from one of the beachfront piers is a good bet—or even a rock groin or jetty rocks at times.
Boats a bit larger and better equipped can be the entry into a wonderful offshore fishing world, beginning just past the beachfront sandbars. Underwater rocks and other formations hold all sorts of fish. Oil rigs of various sizes are always home to many species from snapper on the bottom to kingfish and ling nearer the surface.
At times, schools of dolphins will roam close to shore. When the water is clear and calm the possibilities for sportfish are very, very good.
Of course, folks on private boats as well as commercial charter and party boats ply the further offshore waters for kings, ling, snapper, tuna, wahoo—even billfish. The Texas coast is a wonderful world for fishermen, regardless of their preference in fish size and species.
Location: Summer surf on the upper coast
Species: Specks, redfish, jack crevalle, mackerel, various panfish
Bait: Shrimp and baitfish, live or “fresh dead”, cut squid
Best Time: Early or late in the day to beat the heat or night fishing with or without lights.
Email Mike Holmes at [email protected]