No Boat, No Motor... No problem!

By Nate Skinner

The foamy salt water of the Gulf Lapped at my ankles as the sun began beaming down overhead. The cool water just felt good as I trudged through the sand, a heavy stringer in tow. Content, I thought to my-self, "Now this is fishing!"

It wasn't a fancy rig with an oversized out-board motor that by the turn of a key and push of a throttle had brought me to this hole teeming with fish. This morning, my own two feet carried the load, putting me right in the middle of tons of feeding fish. It couldn't have felt any better.

There seems to be a common misconception that coastal anglers without access to a boat catch fewer fish than those with the ability to leave the shore at their stern. But that's an ocean away from the truth. All along the Texas Coastline, anglers fishing from the shore, piers, kayaks, or wading out from the bank are catching a variety of species of fish throughout the entire year.

Glenn Sutton, a TPWD biologist and Galveston Bay ecosystem leader, says the diversity of Texas bays, beachfronts, and barrier islands is what creates these excellent shore-based fishing opportunities.

"We have had an overall increase in finfish populations in recent years," explains Sutton, "and numerous species are doing exceptionally well."

Sutton reports that spotted sea trout (speckled trout) and red drum (redfish) populations in the Galveston Bay complex have sustained an above-average population over the last five years, and other species are flourishing as well.

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Speckled trout, redfish, and flounder, also known as "the Big Three," are not the only species being caught from the banks and piers along Texas bays and beaches, however. According to TPWD Upper Laguna Madre Ecosystem biologist Zack Olsen, a recent year-long creel survey of shore and pier-based anglers shows fishermen catching a variety of species that seem to have a seasonal trend.

"Black drum are extremely plentiful in the winter and spring," explains Olsen, "and the fall months see a lot of bull red drum as well as flounder being caught by shore-based anglers."

Olsen says other species frequently caught by anglers fishing from the shore or piers include sand trout, whiting (Southern and Gulf kingfish), and sheepshead. Not only are these fish exciting to catch, but they will also bite just about any kind of bait and they are great to eat!

"Anglers fishing the beachfront, jetties, and passes are catching sharks, king mackerel (kingfish), and even tarpon," says Olsen. "Piers stretching into the Gulf, like Bob Hall Pier on north Padre Island, along with rock groins and jetties, seem to be the best areas for these catches."

With 367 miles of Gulf beaches and 3,300 miles of bay-estuary shoreline, anglers without access to a boat have plenty reasons to wet a line, not to mention a variety of tasty sporting fish to catch.

Whether it's from the bank, a pier, by wading, or even paddling out with a kayak, great catches are in store!

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