The Texas coast plays host to an extraordinary diversity of fish habitat. The Laguna Madre from Port Isabel to Mansfield is a clear, shallow turtle grass flat dotted with sand bars and potholes. The intracoastal waterway cuts through the Laguna and provides deep cover for fish to hide from extreme heat and cold, as well as moving tidal waters in and out of the Laguna. Further north, the unique geography of Baffin bay and its legendary “rocks” seems to be the ultimate stomping ground for Texas’ biggest speckled trout, as well as giant schools of reds and black drum. Corpus Christi Bay represents the first of the large, deepwater bays that is spotted with grass flats and oyster reefs alike. It is open to the Gulf of Mexico at both the Port Aransas and Packery jetties, introducing a diversity of offshore species into the bay system such as snapper, mackerel, and tarpon. The Nueces river, which also enters Corpus Christi Bay through Nueces Bay, provides lower salinity levels and nourishes the oyster reefs that become plentiful in the northern range of the Texas gulf coast. It is the first in a series of rivers including the Mission, Aransas, Guadalupe, Colorado, Trinity and Sabine which help to maintain the brackish nature of the bays and change the look of the Texas coast.
From San Antonio bay North, the grasses of the South give way to bigger, deeper bays whose main fish holding structures are oyster reefs, shoals, and beds. The water depth is no longer measured in inches, and bays such as Galveston and East Matagorda can provide natural depths up to 20 feet and manmade holes in excess of 100 feet. Deeper, dirtier water gives the fish more places to hide, and causes anglers to expose themselves more to elements such as wind and rough water.
The last stronghold of the grass flat as one moves north up the coast is the Redfish bay/Estes flats complex, a vast shallow water estuary with a variety of sea grasses and equally large diversity of fish species. North of Estes, the deeper more oyster laden bays of Aransas, Copano, and San Antonio begin to dominate the seascape and do so all the way to the Louisiana border. This northerly progression also sees the water turn from clear in the Laguna Madre to emerald green in Aransas and Copano to a tan waters of Galveston and Trinity bays due to a lower salinity and closer proximity to the brown, silt laden water of the Mississippi River.
Directly in the middle of this transition lies the Rockport/Port Aransas complex and the home waters of Redfish Lodge. This area’s southerly range begins in Corpus Christi bay and runs as far north as the Guadalupe Delta in San Antonio Bay. Within this 40-mile stretch of coastline are contained 15 bays that represent every type of inshore fishing structure on the Texas Gulf Coast. This confluence of river water and gulf currents, shallow grass flats and deep reefs, big bays and skinny water lakes provides a diversity of fish habitat matched only by the vast array of fishing styles available in the area. Stalk reds in one of the thousands of clear, ankle deep saltwater lakes or drop live baits down to trout swarming over 15-foot deep oyster beds. Work topwater lures down shallow, grassy shorelines or bounce jigs down the 30-foot deep ledge if the intracoastal waterway.
Such a huge array of options allows anglers to fish deep water during hot and cold periods that shut down fish activity in the shallows of the Laguna. It also provides protected water during the winds that make the bays of the northern coast unfishable. Big bay boats, skinny water flats boats, kayakers, and waders can all find a productive fishing hole in and around Rockport. Its waters are a perfect microchosm of the diversity that makes coastal fishing in Texas so productive and fun. From channel catfish to kingfish and everything in between, Rockport is truly the fish hub of the Texas Gulf Coast.