Port Isabel is a great mix of the old and new; it is considered one of the most charming places in Texas with its rich history and great attractions.
You will never run out of things to do in Port Isabel. If you love the outdoors, you can bask in the sun near the beautiful Laguna Madre. If you want to soak up in history, the city has so many places to satisfy your curiosity. There are fun places to visit and things to do for people of all ages like the Buelah Lee Park, Replica Keepers Cottage, and the Lighthouse Square, the smallest state park in Texas.
Port Isabel used to have the world’s largest functional 70-ft. long fly rod with a 4-ft. reel. Although it's long gone, people who have visited Port Isabel will always have a good memory of that towering yellow rod pointing towards the sky. If you are an angler who seeks adventure, then book your next flight to Texas and head on to Port Isabel. It offers many fishing opportunities for species that are not found in any other place in Texas. Anglers consider it a fishing paradise with its rich fishing charters and bodies of water.
Port Isabel is a city located in eastern Cameron Country. It belongs to the Matamoros-Brownsville and Brownsville-Harlingen-Raymondville metropolitan areas.
Different bodies of water surround the city. This southernmost bayside community is very popular with anglers. Some of its most abundant fishing spots include the River Terrace Park, Rollover Pass West Beach, Isla Blanca Park, Riviera Beach Pier, and Redhead Beach Pier.
Port Isabel is a legendary fishing area that holds certain world records. For one, the biggest speckled trout was sighted off Port Isabel’s historic lighthouse. In 2018, anglers hauled in a blue marlin weighing 687 pounds and measuring 120.5 inches long in Port Isabel; this defeated the previous record-holder in 2014 by just two pounds. In 2002, the biggest catch-and-release record for sea trout was captured near Port Isabel’s Lighthouse, taken by a local angler. The fish set the scale at 15.6 pounds.
The tarpon is a fun fish to catch since it is known for its acrobatics; it can jump 10 feet out of the water. Moreover, it is a fast swimmer with a speed of up to 35 mph. Also known as silver king, this species can live up to more than 60 years. The tarpon is popular with recreational anglers; it is commonly caught by fly fishing. This muscular fish weighs up to 280 pounds and is challenging to haul because they are fierce fighters, making them an exhilarating sport fish to capture.
Also known as red drum, the redfish is a protected game fish; regulations have been imposed to ban commercial fishing because of the high harvest that came to an alarming point. The red drum usually swim in large schools; sight-casting is a common activity to do in the southern part of Laguna Madre. This species is easy to find as it is commonly found in shallow waters measuring only around two feet.
The snook is another significant game fish, commonly ensnared by fly fishing or sight fishing. This fish is available all year round in the lower area of Laguna Madre. The black drum are usually found in estuaries, creeks, inlets, and pier pilings. Anglers usually target this species during spring which is their spawning season.
The sea trout or speckled trout is perhaps the fish species that Port Isabel is most known for. It is said that trout are fished off Laguna Madre in “legendary proportions”. Laguna Madre is a beautiful hypersaline lagoon running along the western coast of the Gulf of Mexico and one of the seven major estuaries along the Gulf Coast of Texas. This lagoon is a protected area under the Padre Island National Seashore and Laguna Atascosa National Wildlife programs.
Port Isabel is also known for its regular competitions and diverse fishing opportunities. The oldest and largest saltwater fishing tournament is the Texas International Fishing Tournament (TIFT). This annual fishing contest is held on the Texas Gulf Coast. Around 1,500 anglers compete for the trophies fishing under the fly, bay, and offshore categories.
Other local fishing competitions in Port Isabel are the Owner’s Fishing Tournament, the annual Port Mansfield Fishing Tournament, the Ladies Kingfish Tournament, the Annual Fishing for Hope, the Parrot Eyes Fishing Tournament, and the Annual Walk for Women Bay Fishing Tournament.
It is best to start the year fishing for redfish in Port Isabel. From January to February, Port Isabel waters are teeming with redfish. Trout are a common choice, especially if you use spoons and jigs as lures. Though March may no longer be the season for redfish, flounder and trout take their place. Anglers can have fun doing inshore fishing at this time of the year.
In April, anglers may target sea trout and redfish again around the flats. However, the best species to lure in at this time of year are the black drum and the blue marlin. This month is auspicious for anglers who love offshore action. May is in for some inshore challenges – at this point, Port Isabel’s waters are teeming with redfish, sea trout, and tarpon. This marks the beginning of the tarpon season.
During June, the season for red snapper commences. This is the peak period for wahoo, yellowfin tuna, and mahi mahi. The season continues for these species until July. Moreover, this month brings in other species, including amberjack and tuna. Inshore fishing for tarpon becomes a huge activity at this time.
August is usually fully booked for the Texas International Fishing Tournament (TIFT). This fishing season is best for inshore and offshore fishing targeting amberjack, wahoo, mahi mahi, and tuna. September is the abundant month for flounder, snapper, redfish, tarpon, snook, and speckled trout.
October is a great month for offshore fishing. This period offers an unlimited catch for tuna. In November, it is yellowfin tuna for offshore and redfish for inshore fishing. Lastly, the year may end in cold December, but the fishing action remains with black drum, redfish, and trout aplenty in Port Isabel’s waters.
Port Isabel is one place where you will never run out of fishing charter options. They have anything - from anglers looking for an adventure at sea to charters catering to families with kids. Just take your pick!
You should never leave the city without hopping on this pirate ship. The cruise includes face painting, mock cannon battles, water pistol fights, sword duels, and treasure raids. On top of all these, there will also be a dolphin-watching activity.
Visit historical museums like the iconic Port Isabel Historical Museum. The face of this museum shows a sea creature and fish mural that was painted in 1906.
Visitors to Port Isabel should not miss going to the Lighthouse; it has been acknowledged as a Texas Historical Commission State Historic Site. Constructed in 1852, this breathtaking landmark gives a beautiful view of the places around the city, including South Padre Island, Boca Chica, the Gulf of Mexico and SpaceX, and the Queen Isabella Causeway. Sadly, the Lighthouse is currently closed due to the pandemic.
Topping the list is South Padre Island, known for its clean shores and crystal clear waters. Kitesurfers frequent Bayside beach, while Sons of the Beach is always full of beach lovers looking for all-day fun on the seaside.
Shopping at Port Isabel can be quite an experience for tourists. Many shops offer chainsaw-cut wooden pelicans, handmade ceramics, customized t-shirts, jewelry, and even some fine art.