Port Aransas Fishing: An Angler's Guide

Port Aransas Fishing: An Angler's Guide
Published: Tuesday, March 23rd, 2021
Updated on: Friday, April 9th, 2021

Port Aransas, historically known as Aranzazu, welcomes around 60,000 visitors during the summer. The place is packed with tourists from around the world from Memorial Day through Labor Day. Known as the “Fishing Capital of Texas”, Port Aransas attracts anglers from around the world.

Its long and rich history started almost 5,000 years ago. The first inhabitants of the islands were believed to be the Karankawa Indians who led a nomadic life, traversing the Galveston Bay towards Corpus Christi.  The 19th century marked the beginning of the buzzing commerce of Port Aransas and became a point of interest for merchants, immigrants, and even for buccaneers and smugglers. It was business as usual until a hurricane destroyed most of Port Aransas in 1916. This, however, did not stop the locals from rebuilding their wharves and docks. Then again in 2017, Hurricane Harvey ravaged the Gulf Coast and Port Aransas, but just the same, its people persevered and rebuilt.

After going through several tragedies over the centuries, who would think that Port Aransas would eventually have one of the most successful tourism-driven economies in Texas? Apart from anglers, the kayak paddling trails also lure in visitors. 

Its once flooded and snake-infested islands are now abundant inlets and estuaries that are home to vast populations of different fish species. Although it offers saltwater and inshore fishing, Port Aransas is best known for deep-sea or offshore fishing. In fact, many consider Port Aransas the deep sea fishing capital of Texas. 

Port Aransas Fishing

The world-renowned Gulf of Mexico, Corpus Christi Bay, and Lydia Ann Ship Channel surround Port Aransas. This gives anglers easy access to some of the best fishing spots in the country. Moreover, this gem of a community is lauded for being the only established town sitting on the beautiful Mustang Island.

Fishing in the coastal inlet of Mustang Island
"Fishing along the coastal inlet on Mustang Island" by Joncutrer is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Due to its strategic location, Port Aransas is highly accessible to anyone who wants to visit; if you want to go straight to the middle of the town, you can ride the ferry from Aransas Pass free of charge. If you wish to go to neighboring towns in Texas, you can head down the South Padre Island Drive.

Apart from the fish-abundant bodies of water that surround this city, Port Aransas is also home to the Crystal River, which is known for both inshore and offshore fishing. Its tributaries filled with backcountry creeks and grass flats make this river an ideal fishing hotspot for anglers. 

Bordering Port Aransas, Galveston Bay is a popular fishing hub. The seventh-largest estuary in the US, Galveston Bay is home to an abundant population of fish like King Mackerel, Mahi Mahi, Grouper, Snapper, and more.

Port Aransas holds some of the world’s fishing records. In 2018, a 23-year-old angler reeled in a 22.82-pound Dog Snapper off the Dolphin Docks. More recently, in December 2020, two anglers landed a 47.25-pound Marbled Grouper from the same location. Unfortunately, it seems like no paperwork was submitted to make it qualify as IGFA’s new world record for this species.

Red Snapper - these large pinkish fish are one of the world's favorites. This bottom-dweller found in deep water is one of the most sought-after targets for offshore fishing. Aggressive feeders (up to 600 feet deep), they have delicious meat too.

King Mackerel - as tremendous fighters, these fish are very exciting to catch. Kingfish are considered the most important game fish from their genus (Scomberomorus). They're toothy so make sure to use a heavy duty leader when you're targeting kingfish.  

Speckled Sea Trout - These opportunistic carnivores are popular among experienced anglers. This species responds well to any light to medium action rod and reel combination, or a conventional bottom rig when offshore fishing. This trophy fish is best fished at night in winter when the water is clearer.

Cobia - This solitary fish is known as an aggressive predator that feeds on smaller fish. With its tasty meat, it makes an excellent table fare and is considered an important commercial fish. Using bucktail jigs, eel baits, topwater jigs, and crankbaits, anglers always have a good time catching cobia.

Redfish - Formally known as Red Drum, this species lives up to 40 years and typically stays around the area where it was born. Currently, only recreational anglers are allowed to catch them but with certain regulations. This shallow water fish responds best to live shrimp; for fly fishing, anglers use flies that are about 3 to 6 inches in length.

There are several fishing tournaments in the Port Aransas area, and the Houston Big Game Fishing Club hosts a few every year.

In May, the Corpus Christi Big Game Fishing Club facilitates its kick-off party; they run a tournament series composed of 10 events and runs through September of each year. Other notable fishing tournaments in Port Aransas are Babes on the Bay in May, Powder Puff Ladies Tournament in June, Deep Sea Roundup in July, Texas Legends, and Texas Women Anglers Tournament in August to September.

 

Top Ten Fish Species in Port Aransas

The top 10 fish you can catch in Port Aransas, TX are Tuna, Red Snapper, Speckled Sea Trout, Flounder, Cobia, Tarpon, Kingfish, Snook, Redfish, Sailfish.

 

Port Aransas Seasonal Fishing

  • Redfish - Despite the laws in place banning heavy fishing for Redfish, this species is available all-year-round for recreational anglers. Apart from shrimp, you can also use mullet and other lures.
  • Speckled SeaTrout - Luckily for anglers, this fish is abundant throughout the year. To catch them, you can use perch and shrimp as bait.
  • King Mackerel  - Kingfish are most active from May to September, and you'll have success using shrimp as bait.
  • Cobia - Cobia are most active in April, May, September, and October. Anglers usually utilize perch, shrimp, and ribbonfish as bait to catch this target.
  • Sailfish - Sailfish are abundant in Texas’ waters from July to September. Mullet, ballyhoo, and other common lures are productive
  • Red Snapper - The peak season for this delectable species is from April to October. That’s plenty of time to prepare your whole or cut fish as bait

Here is a bonus summary for you to include in your next fishing calendar. In January, you can go for Sheepshead; Black Drum in February; Jack Crevalle in March. June is the peak season for numerous species including Mahi Mahi, Sailfish, and Tuna. July is the beginning of most offshore tournaments if you are up for it. August is the peak for offshore game fish like Cobia, sharks, Barracuda, Blackfin Tuna, and Kingfish. September and October are primetime for Bull Redfish.  Offshore fishing in November means catching tuna and Kingfish. The last month of the year may not have the best weather conditions, but it is still a hot month for Redfish and Red Snapper. 

Port Aransas Fishing: An Angler's Guide Fish species
Yellowfin Tuna 

Habitat: Offshore

Weight: 40 - 150 Pounds

Length: 27" - 94"

Cobia 

Habitat: Onshore, Nearshore, Offshore, Reef, Wreck

Weight: 10 - 80 Pounds

Length: 24" - 79"

Sea Trout 

Habitat: Inshore, Nearshore, Covered River

Weight: 1 - 6 Pounds

Length: 20" - 55"

Red Snapper 

Habitat: Nearshore, Offshore, Reef, Wreck

Weight: 5 - 20 Pounds

Length: 19" - 39"

Atlantic Sailfish

Habitat: Offshore, Nearshore

Weight: 50 - 142 Pounds

Length: 90" - 124"

King Mackerel

Habitat: Onshore, Nearshore, Offshore, Reef, Wreck

Weight: 10 - 20 Pounds

Length: 19" - 72"

Redfish

Habitat: Onshore, Flats, Backcountry, Nearshore

Weight: 10 - 45 Pounds

Length: 30" - 61"

Tarpon 

Habitat: Inshore, Flats, Backcountry

Weight: 25 - 63 Pounds

Length: 48" - 96"

Things to do in Port Aransas

1. Port Aransas Fishing Charters

Port Aransas is home to some of the best deep-sea fishing in the world, and as a result, many top captains and fishing guides have settled there.  The Gulf of Mexico and Galveston Bay both make for incredible fishing locations.  Whether you're new to the area, vacationing, or live locally, you can never go wrong with a Port Aransas fishing charter. 

2. Kayaking, Surfing, and Parasailing 

Woman looking at a giant fish made from sand at the Port Aransas sandfest
"SandFest 2018 - Port Aransas, Texas" by Joncutrer is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Mustang Island Paddling Trail and The Lighthouse Lakes Paddling Trail near Aransas Pass are both famous for kayaking. If you want to glide over mangrove estuaries, salt marshes, and sand flats, then this might be the perfect activity for you. If you are looking for something more adventurous, then you can try flying up to 300 feet high over the ocean in a parasail at Lydia Ann Channel or the Gulf of Mexico.

 

3. Birdwatching 

Home to the largest trail of its kind in the US, Port Aransas is world-renowned for its Texas Coastal Birding Trail where you can view up to 450 different species of migratory birds. 

 

Top Beaches in Port Aransas, TX

1. Mustang Island

Mustang Island is a barrier island found to the east of Corpus Christi. This is popular among active vacationers and families who love to camp and surf. 

2. Crystal Beach

Crystal Beach is secluded and best for both fishing and bird-watching. It also accommodates campers whose idea of a great night out is around campfires under the stars.

3. Lighthouse Beach 

Lighthouse Beach is beloved by children due to its splash pads. The shoreline is a bird sanctuary, making it a haven for nature lovers.

4. Rockport Beach 

Rockport Beach overlooks Aransas Bay. This crescent-shaped beach offers many amenities and activities including volleyball games. It also provides chairs for sunbathers who simply want to bask in the Texas sun.

Sandfest is an annual sand castle building contest that's one of the most popular activities in Port Aransas; it is a family-friendly event.

Fish Techniques
Fly Fishing
Deep Sea Fishing