Game Fish of the South Texas Coast
Fishing the Lower Laguna Madre
Rat Red = undersize reds
Bull Red = oversize redfish (over 28")
Daily Bag Limit: 3
Length in Inches: 20 - 28
One red drum over the stated maximum length limit may be retained when affixed with a properly completed Red Drum Tag
In season: all year.
The most distinguishing mark on the red drum is one large black spot on the upper part of the tail base. Having multiple spots is not uncommon for this fish but having no spots is extremely rare. The color of red drum ranges from a deep blackish, coppery color to nearly silver. The most common color is reddish-bronze.
Sight casting for reds on the shallow grassy flats has become one of the most popular of all recreational fishing in South Texas. Reds are known to readily strike at artificial lures, spoons, cut and live bait. They are easy to hook and give a good hard fight.
"Tailing" is an expression used when reds feed in shallow water with their head down in the grass and the tail exposed to the air. Reds often frequent very shallow waters and can be spotted as their tails break the surface of the water or seen swimming just under the surface of the water. This situation presents the ideal sight casting opportunities for fly-fishing and spin casting.
Speckled Trout, Spec, Trout
Daily Bag Limit: Lower Laguna Madre - 5
Length in Inches: 15 - 25
One Speckled Trout over the stated maximum length may be retained per person per day.
In season: all year.
Distinguishing characteristics include a dark gray or greenish back and silvery-white below, with distinct round spots on back, fins and tail; black margin along the edge of tail; soft dorsal (back) fin with no scales; and one or two prominent canine teeth usually present at the tip of the upper jaw.
Speckled Trout favor shallow bays and estuaries near oyster beds and in grass beds where they find their prey. They can be caught throughout the bay but prefer deeper water in cold weather and after rains. Trout often move into shallow water to feed around sunrise and sunset.
Trout can be caught with a variety of baits and artificial lures. They most popular and successful method is to use live shrimp under a popping cork. Bigger trout are often taken by wading and using free baiting cut ballyhoo or skipjack. Trout will readily strike at artificial lures, top waters, and soft plastics. Live pinfish, perch and croaker are also excellent for catching big trout.
Daily Bag Limit: Lower Laguna Madre - 5/2
Length in Inches: 14 - No limit
Flounder special regulation: Daily bag is 5 fish except for the period Nov. 1-30 when the daily bag is 2 fish and flounder may be taken only by pole and line. Possession limit is equal to the daily bag.
To identify southern flounder, the left side is pigmented and is always on the up side.
With other species of flatfish it is the opposite. Flounder spend most of their time swimming and lying on the bottom. Adult flounder enter shallow water at night where they lie, often partially buried, and wait for prey
Fishing for flounder is most productive by slowly dragging over the bottom. They prefer barren bottoms with soft silt, sand or mud near jetties, channels, grass lines and oyster beds. They will strike at artificial lures on jig heads, live or dead shrimp and small bait fish like mud minnows work well.
Adult flounder will migrate into the Gulf when the first cold fronts hit. This is when the biggest migrations can be seen around the jetties. In the spring they will gradually work tier way back into the bay.
Robalo, Saltwater Pike, Sergeant Fish
Daily Bag Limit: 1
Length in Inches: 24 - 28
Snook have long, concave snouts with jutting underjaws. The lateral line is pigmented and distinct, extending well into the tail. Coloration ranges from dark brown on back to silvery on the sides and white below. The two dorsal fins are well separated.
Snook are most often caught in the lower Laguna Madre near pilings or other underwater structure. They are usually caught by fishing with live shrimp near pilings in clear water.
During warmer weather they can be found in estuaries near grass beds. South Bay is well known as a good place to catch Snook.
Also called Silver King
Daily Bag Limit: 1
Length in Inches: 85'' - no limit
The tarpon is large hard fighting fish and one of the favorite game fish in South Texas. Characteristics include large flat scales up to three inches in diameter, an elongated dorsal fin, falcate anal fin and large bony underslung jaw. It has been known to exceed 300 pounds, but the Texas record is 210 pounds, 86.25 inches, 1973.
Tarpon will often hit trolled spoons and jigs and also will take live pinfish and mullet under a cork and other biat using drift fishing methods. The ensuing fight is dramatic, marked by leaps from the water and shaking of the body.
Daily Bag Limit: 2
Length in Inches: 27 - No limit
The king mackerel is a medium sized fish, typically encountered from 5-30 pounds, but is known to exceed 90 pounds. The entire body is covered with very small, hardly visible, loosely attached scales. The first (spiny) dorsal fin is entirely colorless and is normally folded back into a body groove, as are the pelvic fins. The lateral line starts high on the shoulder, dips abruptly at mid-body and then continues as a wavy horizontal line to the tail.
They are taken mostly by trolling, using various live and dead baitfish, spoons, jigs and other artificials. They are found both nearshore and offshore.
King mackerel are among the most sought-after gamefish throughout Texas. Known throughout the sportfishing world for their blistering runs,the king mackerel matches its distant relative, the wahoo in speed. They are taken mostly by trolling, using various live and dead baitfish, spoons, jigs and other artificials. Commercial gear consists of run-around gill nets.
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