When it comes to outdoor recreational activities, fishing continues to reign supreme for Americans. Over 49 million Americans took to the waterways to enjoy freshwater, saltwater, and fly fishing. For the 25 million saltwater fishing fanatics that flock to the waters each year or those new to the novel hobby, choosing a fishing hotspot and getting to know the regulations of their chosen state is a key part of planning their fishing trip. Texas’s deep and coastal fishing guides can take you to the top fishing spots in Texas that have an ample supply of trout, flounder, and other saltwater species. However, before you head off on your first Texas fishing expedition, it helps to get to know the basics of saltwater fishing in Texas.
There is no doubt that Texas has some of the best fishing spots in the country. In fact, Galveston, Texas is a common feature on many fishing enthusiasts lists, including Discover Boating’s Top Ten Places To Saltwater Fish In America. Corpus Christi was recently featured on Fishing Booker’s The 12 Best Fishing Cities for 2019. While Texas has an open fishing season year-round, choosing the optimal time will depend on two factors: the legally regulated timeframe and the recommended seasons based on the saltwater species you are trying to catch.
Just as different saltwater fly fishing flies are more suited to different species such as trout or bass, you should keep the fishing season calendar in mind to know which fish are in season. For rainbow trout and other fly fishing opportunities, the fishing season is normally between December to early March, while those looking to catch flounder have their best chances during the Founder Run (October to December). However, the Wildlife and Parks Department recently proposed a close of flounder season in Texas between November 1 and December 15, so be sure to keep checking for the updated season timings.
Before you can embark on a saltwater fishing trip, the state of Texas requires both resident and non-resident fishers to secure a fishing license if they plan to fish in public waters. A saltwater license will cost you $35 or you can purchase a freshwater package and add on a saltwater fishing endorsement for an additional cost of $10. Non-residents pay a slightly higher fee ($58 for a saltwater license or $68 for an all-water package).
Seniors can also enjoy a reduced rate of $17 for a saltwater fishing license. If you are wondering if you need a license, your best bet is to check the Texas Park & Wildlife website. If you are looking for a more budget-friendly option, try coastal state parks like Galveston or Mustang Island. During National Fishing and Boating Week, Texas designates a Free Fishing Day where you can fish for free in any public waters in Texas. This is normally observed on the first Saturday of June and is a great way to test out your new fishing hobby. Numerous Texas fishing parks also allow you to fish without a license year-round like Goose Island State Park in Rockport.
In Texas, each saltwater species has its bag and length regulations. The latest regulations are valid until August 31, 2020 so if your trip is planned for after this date, it is recommended that you check the state wildlife website for updated guidelines. For flounder, the daily bag limit is five fish, except between November 1st-30th. During this time, the limit is two fish. The minimum length is 14 inches. Other species like Tarpon come with a one fish daily bag limit and a minimum length of 85 inches.
It is important to adhere to these fishing regulations, as they are implemented to protect the fishing stock. For example, limits on fish sizes aim to protect fishes during spawning sizes while fishing seasons protect the fishes during spawning season. While fishing may be a popular past time, it is also important to maintain the sustainability and longevity of the fishing stock. If you do catch a fish that does not meet the recommended guidelines and need to release it back into the water, you will need to use your release tools like a fishing hook remover or pliers. You also want to minimize the time the fish is out of water so you must act quickly when removing the hook.
Don’t forget to check your tidal reports before heading out on the waters. Texas has many great saltwater hotspots scattered across the state for you to enjoy as a beginner. Once you get the hang of it, don’t be afraid to explore a few of the other saltwater fishing gold mines across the state.