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North Padre Island is a barrier island located along the shores of the world-renowned Texan Gulf Coast. This paradise island features miles and miles of beautiful white-sand beaches, a mild sub-tropical climate, and clear waters on both the gulf and the bay sides. You may think that these elements are typical in any seashore destination, but what sets North Padre apart is that it’s mostly undeveloped. This means that there are no hotels, no resorts, no souvenir shops, and no manicured gardens on the island—just pure, unadulterated seaside wilderness. It’s truly a one-of-a-kind vacation spot that an outdoor enthusiast would surely love.
As the name implies, North Padre Island is actually just a part of a long (about 113 miles) barrier island that stretches from Corpus Christi to the resort community of South Padre Island. The North and the South areas are separated by the Port Mansfield Channel, a man-made canal right in the middle of Padre Island.
Like most areas in the region, the Karankawa people were the first ones to occupy and use North Padre seasonally to hunt and gather food. These native folks, however, are known for their nomadic lifestyle, which means they never really established a settlement in the area. The first settlement was eventually established when the Spanish Conquistadors came in the mid-1700s. The whole of Padre Island was called Isla de Santiago at that time and was granted to a Spanish Colonist named Nicolás Ballí. In the early 1800s, the island was inherited by José Nicolás Ballí or Padre Ballí, the grandson of the first owner and a secular priest, from which the island got its name.
Today, most of the south side of the island is developed into a summer destination popular particularly among college spring breakers. The north part, on the other hand, mostly remains to be untouched in its natural beauty, thanks mainly to the conservation efforts of the National Park Service. The only area that was developed is the part adjacent to Corpus Christi right across the bridge. But once you reach the Malaquite Visitor Center, you’ll see nothing but surf, sand, and sun—well, along with the coastal wildlife, of course!
The best thing about North Padre is that even if it has that feeling of isolation, the truth is, you’re not because the city of Corpus Christi is just on the north end of the island, just a few miles away. And once you cross the bridge to the mainland, you’ll be in the city’s downtown area where you can wine, dine, and shop.
Given its untouched natural beauty, North Padre is definitely a true outdoor enthusiast’s dream destination. The island’s charm is not just about giving you a front-row seat to the most beautiful coastal views but it offers fun outdoor recreational activities like camping, hiking, swimming, boating, windsurfing, and, of course, fishing.
Because it’s an island that’s surrounded by bountiful bodies of water, it’s not surprising North Padre is known for one of the best fishing in the world. As a fishing haven, both a beginner and a long-time pro can find the waters around the island exhilarating as there are plenty of opportunities for everyone, regardless of the skill level of an angler. And given the scenic fishing spots and the wide variety of fish that inhabit its sub-tropical waters, who can really resist?
For first-time anglers, a seasoned North Padre fishing guide would often suggest trying his or her luck fishing inshore—either on the piers or jetties in nearby Corpus Christi or on the miles of open beach right at the island for some surfcasting adventure. Yes, there are so many fish that can be caught inshore including black drum, Spanish mackerel, redfish, flounder, and speckled seatrout, among many others. And you won’t even need some specialized fishing gears here as you can still land some quality fish using conventional rods and reels
For experienced anglers looking for some adventure, offshore fishing is the best way to go. You can go bay fishing in the Laguna Madre where you can have access to a lot of popular game fish such as back drum, red drum, snook, flounder, alligator gar, crevalle jack, kingfish, pompano, speckled seatrout, and different types of rays and sharks. But if you’re looking for a real challenge, you can head out to the Gulf of Mexico for some deep-sea action. In the Gulf, you can land some of the most notorious fighters of the sea like red snapper, cobia, amberjack, wahoo, tuna, mahi-mahi, marlin, and sharks.
If you’re planning to go offshore fishing but you don’t have access to a boat, you need not worry as there are fishing charters available in Corpus Christi and North Padre Island You can either choose to go privately but, of course, the cost will be much steeper than joining a party boat. Either way, you’ll be treated to a day of top-notch fishing around North Padre.
Yes, fishing opportunities abound in North Padre Island alone and you don’t have to go anywhere else to catch some quality fish. If you’re planning a fishing trip here, you might want to check out these locations for some productive fishing:
Located just at the south end of Padre Ballí Park, this pier extends 1,240 feet into the Gulf to where it’s deep enough for anglers to have easy access to bigger targets. If you don’t have your own fishing gear, you can just rent from the bait and tackle shop right at the pier’s entrance.
On the other side of the island facing the bay is this local favorite fishing spot that’s great for kayak fishing. There are also spots where you can actually just wade into the shallow seagrass flats and still catch quality fish like pompano, jack crevalle, tarpon, kingfish, black drum, sheepshead, and redfish.
If surfcasting is what you’re after, this 65-mile long beach is open to all anglers—you just have to have a 4x4 vehicle to get there easily. This sandy stretch is where you can land some of the favorites such as pompano and jack crevalle as well as some of the most voracious fighters including sharks and rays.
Another kayak fishing favorite, this spot provides around two hundred yards of seagrass flats where a wide range of targets can be caught.
These jetties flank the channel that flows between Padre Island and Mustang Island. Known as the easiest and most accessible fishing spot in Padre Island and Corpus Christi, the chances of catching something worthwhile here are pretty high with popular targets such as snook, redfish, tarpon, trout, Spanish mackerel, kingfish, and sharks constantly getting drawn into the narrow channel.
Fishing in North Padre is an all-year affair thanks to the mostly warm weather here. Of course, if you’re going to be targeting a specific fish, you will need to time your trip according to when your target is most likely to be available. Here are some of the most popular game fish here and when they’re more active around the waters of North Padre:
Jack crevalle – May, June, and July
Black drum – between February and May
Red drum – May, June and September, October
Cobia – between April and July
Spanish mackerel – between April and November, peaking from June to September
Red snapper – November to April, peaking in June and July
Mahi-mahi – between May and November, peaking from August to September
Tuna – from September to December
Marlin – from October to January
Sharks – from December to January
Keep in mind, though, that most of the fish species here are pretty much available throughout the year. The months we’ve mentioned above are just a guide to when these species are more actively biting.
With the combination of the picturesque sceneries and abundance of outdoor recreational activities, North Padre is a summer destination you just can’t pass up. Here are some of the most popular things to do here in North Padre Island:
It’s a barrier island known as a premier fishing destination so yes, fishing is always a great idea here!
Yes, you can enjoy the beautiful sceneries Texan style!
Paddle your way around the island’s most scenic kayaking trails and experience Mother Nature full on!
Explore the beautiful beach as well as the grassy and dune terrains of the island while driving a 4x4—truly an adventure!
It doesn’t matter if you prefer windsurfing, kitesurfing, or on a traditional surfboard, once you’ve tried riding the waves of the Gulf, you will surely go back for more!