THE MARING FORECAST for the Upper Texas Coast called for 5-10 miles per hour winds with 2-3 foot seas.
Experienced offshore anglers know that usually means 15 miles per hour with four foot seas, but for anglers with offshore boats, that’s a doable day for fishing.
A few hours later, the forecast switched.
As a tornadic thunderstorm system swept through the region and swung a little lower than expected, the forecast changed. 2-3 foot seas, changed to 8-13 feet with 25 miles per hour winds gusting to 50.
That’s extremely dangerous and that scenario happened during the third week of January 2023. There were no reports of marine fatalities but there have been during similar extreme weather outbreaks in recent years.
The coast is an awesome place of fishing, fun and adventure but things can go dark quickly. While weather is the obvious big threat there are others on the coast that rarely get addressed.
Continuing our “staying live” series, we bring you things to be aware of on the coast, so you can make informed decisions.
Other than wearing a life jacket, always, the most important thing you can do for boating safety is to stay aware of weather. Having weather apps on your phone helps as alerts can signal changing situations but you also need a good VHF radio and keep it on.
Sometimes apps fail and so does your cell signal, but the VHF alerts are pretty consistent. It doesn’t matter how good the fish are biting, if it seems dangerous – leave. Period.
Also, be cautious when leaving. Don’t think you can “beat the front” in. At best you might need a chiropractor when you get home and at worst you could capsize.
Rip currents have killed numerous wade fishermen along the coast. Anglers need to be hyper aware.
According to the United States Lifesaving Association (USLA), there is a myth that rip currents are always visible. They are not.
“Spotting a rip current can be difficult. To check for rip currents at the beach, stand back from an elevated position, like a dune line or beach access, and look for places where waves are not breaking.”
Any of the following clues may indicate that a rip current is present:
• A channel of churning, choppy water;
• An area of water that is a notable difference in color;
• A line of foam, or debris moving steadily offshore; or
• A break in the incoming wave pattern
Last year we did a major feature on rogue waves that have been linked to numerous boating accidents and at least one fatality on the Texas Coast.
These waves originate from ship traffic and catch many anglers and boaters off guard. They are extremely dangerous and in our opinion, the danger will only increase as larger ships move into our bay systems, particularly along the Houston-Galveston Ship Channel.
This certainly includes people wading along the edge of ship channels. Be super cautious as this issue is only going to increase.
I’ll never forget when several anglers had cinder blocks dropped onto their vehicles from a bridge along the Intracoastal Canal. The same year there were reports of people in boats stalking other anglers night fishing along a popular dock.
Remote areas bring out criminals. They are vastly outnumbered by nice folks, but criminals and psychos are present along remote areas of our coast and operate under the cover of darkness at boat docks, remote bank fishing locations and various public access areas.
Do not go alone, especially at night, and if you get a bad feeling about a place, do not go. If you’re already there when it comes, leave.
Not everyone visiting the remote surf at 2 a.m. is trying to catch the best tides for bull redfish. I interviewed a man who witnessed a white van dumping something on the beach at High Island in the 70’ s. A few weeks later, bodies were found. He and his father had seen serial killer Dean Coryll and only been a few hundred yards from him.
No one else is talking about this stuff but we feel compelled to share.
Cottonmouths and rattlesnakes are common around certain beaches and islands along the coast. The number of rattlesnakes on some of the islands in Upper and Lower Laguna Madre can be high. There are quite a few in the Aransas Bay complex as well.
Upper Coast marshes are loaded with cottonmouths, so be careful when wading some of the shoreline and especially when duck hunting in the early teal season.
Shark numbers are on the rise. And that includes some of the most dangerous species like bull sharks.
We can easily say you are more likely to be struck by lightning than bitten by a shark. Tell that to the guy bitten by a shark.
Be cautious when wade fishing, swimming and diving and don’t ever get comfortable around sharks. If you see a lot of big ones in a particular area, you might want to consider wade fishing somewhere else.
Better safe than sorry.
Texas Fish & Game has promoted shark conservation in numerous issues per year for the last two decades and we’re glad to see sharks doing much better. But we also know people sometimes get attacked and with more sharks and more people in the water, attacks will happen.
(If you have a dangerous encounter along the coast, we would like to share your story with others. You can email them to [email protected])
—story by CHESTER MOORE