A barrier island on the south-eastern corner of the state of Texas that faces the Gulf of Mexico, South Padre Island (or SPI as the locals fondly call it) is the perfect destination for those looking to make the most out of their vacation. South Padre Island is a popular resort town in Cameron County, Texas. It was named after a Spanish priest, Padre Jose Nicolas Balli, who first settled on the island when he founded a ranch named Santa Cruz de Buena Vista in 1804. Prior to this, however, people—specifically, nomadic Native Americans, Spanish troops, and shipwreck survivors—have inhabited the island. In fact, the island was formerly owned by four different nations at different times with Spain being the first one to claim it; followed by Mexico after the Mexican Revolution; then the Republic of Texas; and finally the US following the US-Mexican War of 1845-1848.
But even with so many people setting foot on the island, formal settlements weren’t established until the good priest arrived. The whole island was primarily used for ranching when the first settlers arrived. It was only until the late 1920s when Colonel Sam Robertson arrived and first envisioned the island as the “Miami Beach of Texas”. Since then, the whole island has seen major transformations as concrete roads, causeways, piers, resorts, and hotels were constructed throughout the years until it’s become what it is now—a popular tourist destination that attracts over a million visitors each year, all year round.
South Padre Island boasts a number of relaxing and exhilarating activities that vacationers of all demographics would surely love. In March, for instance, the island is a popular spring break stop for both local and international college students. There are also so many water sport activities a thrill-seeker would enjoy including jet-skiing and kiteboarding. If you just want to relax, you can either just bask in the sun on the island’s white-sand beaches; or you can explore the shores on a horseback through various ecological tours, or maybe get to meet some friendly aquatic mammals by going to a dolphin-watching excursion.
Aside from the fun activities mentioned above, another way to enjoy the island is through fishing. As any Texan angler would tell you, SPI is truly an angler’s paradise as the island offers many fishing opportunities that a novice or expert would certainly appreciate. Well, it’s an island—so it’s not that hard to imagine why Texans see SPI as the state’s mecca of fishing. In fact, late in the summer, the Texas International Fishing Tournament happens here every year where lucky anglers could take home cash prizes that total close to a quarter-million dollars. Other fishing tournaments are held on the island every year including Ladies Kingfish Tournament, the Hooters Tournament, and the Redfish Rodeo.
Because it’s an island, of course, there are many ways for you to go fishing. One of the simplest ways is via shore fishing where you can target Tarpon, Snook, Redfish, Speckled Trout, and Flounder. You can also choose to fish on the sandy beaches, on piers, or jetties—either way, it’s perfect for those who simply want to satisfy their fishing itch without having to go all out.
If you’re looking for a bit of adventure or you want to experience the waters around the island without the crowd, you can also try kayak fishing. Yes, even if you don’t own a kayak, a South Padre Island fishing guide will be more than happy to point you in the right direction of where you can rent one and where you can paddle out and catch Redfish, Trout, Flounder, Snook, Spanish mackerel, and Sheepshead. If you want your kayak fishing more challenging, you can paddle farther out the Gulf and target a Cobia, Red Snapper, or Kingfish.
Now, if you want a REAL challenge, a South Padre fishing charter may very well be your cup of tea. There are two fishing charter options—one is to join a party boat where you can fish alongside other visitors; while a private fishing charter lets you experience deep-sea fishing with just the captain and crew for company. Of course, the first option will be much cheaper. Either way, fishing charters can open up all the possibilities for you as seasoned fishing boat captains will not only provide you with all the equipment you will need, but they will also take you to where real Gulf monsters like Amberjack, Dorado, Tuna, Marlin, and even sharks can be caught.
For you to be able to enjoy South Padre Island fishing the best possible way, we highly recommend getting either a fishing guide or charter a fishing boat. Why? Because how else can you experience hassle-free fishing on the island? Yes, they’ll help you get the right equipment, give you helpful tips and techniques on how to catch certain species, and, of course, show you where you can catch them.
Just to give you an idea, here are some of the top fishing locations in the area:
Inshore Fishing can be done three ways—you can do it on the beach, on a pier, or jetties. The following are just some of the most popular inshore fishing locations:
Nearshore Fishing can be done while on a kayak. With the help of a South Padre Island fishing guide, you can get to these fishing spots while experiencing Mother Nature in all her glory:
Offshore Fishing can be done via South Padre Island fishing charters. If you want to head far out into the Gulf of Mexico and land some real monsters like Amberjack, Kingfish, Barracuda, Dorado, Tuna, and Marlin, then this is the surefire way to go! Top offshore fishing spots include Port Isabel Reef, Brownsville Ship Channel, Texas Clipper, and some deep-water oil rigs.
South Padre Island boasts warm weather all year round thanks to the region’s mid to semi-arid weather, with average annual temps of 74 degrees. This only means that it’s pretty much sunny here most of the time and yes, you can fish here throughout the year. But if you’re targeting a particular fish, here are the months when to best catch them:
The top ten fish species you’ll catch in South Padre Island, TX is Tarpon, Snook, Bass, Snapper, Dorado, Catfish, Crevalle Jack, Tuna, Marlin, and Spanish Mackerel.
If you’re planning to visit this beautiful island on your next trip, here are some activities you might want to check out:
With ample opportunities to catch different fish species, South Padre Island is truly an angler’s paradise. You can either hire a guide or charter a fishing boat and experience Island fishing at its best! Speaking of best, the best way to end your fishing trip is to take your fresh catch to a restaurant that will turn your catch into a hearty meal!
Of course, the first thing you should do on such a picturesque island is to wallow in its sandy beaches that stretch for more than 30 miles. You can bask in the sun, swim in its pristine waters, or, to make your stay more memorable, go horseback riding—you know, as a true Texan would!
With exciting nature tours such as dolphin watching, island hopping, and Laguna Madre nature trail tours, you’ll get the chance to come face to face with the local fauna or just enjoy the stunning views. You can also visit the Sea Turtle, Inc., an organization dedicated to the overall welfare of sea turtles. Here you will not only get the chance to meet some sea turtles in person, but you’re also helping the organization’s worthwhile cause.
Visit South Padre Island now and find out for yourself why it’s one of the Lone Star State’s true gems!