Fishing in South Padre Island, Texas

By Adam Young, Our US Harbors Fishing Expert

South Padre Island, located on the Gulf of Mexico in south Texas, is a paradise for fishing enthusiasts. 

With its warm climate, sandy beaches, and clear waters, it offers abundant opportunities to catch a variety of fish inshore and offshore. Especially during the winter months when other destinations are cold and windy.

In this fishing guide, I’ll share with you what kind of fish you can expect to catch, a few tips on where to go, and provide an overview of the region for your next boating or fishing adventure.

About The Region

South Padre Island is a barrier island that spans approximately 34 miles along the Texas Gulf Coast, right on the Mexico and Texas border.

With a large protected bay, interior lagoons, and access to deep tropical water offshore, the island is a haven for marine life.

In fact, this region is more similar to south Florida than it is to the other gulf coast states.

Common Types of Fish to Catch

South Padre Island is one of the most ecological diverse areas of the gulf, with more than 600 different marine species. Trust me, there is something to catch for every type of angler!

Inshore Fish

The inshore waters of South Padre Island are home to an angler’s dream list: Redfish, Speckled Trout, Flounder, Black drum, Tarpon, Jack Crevalle, Sheepshead and Whiting just to name a few. 

And if you’re lucky, and do your homework you may even hook into a prized Snook. South Padre Island Texas is home to the only sizable snook population in the US outside of Florida.

Nearshore Fish

Want to hit the beaches or nearshore waters in your kayak or small boat? Well you’re likely to catch Pompano, Bluefish, Barracuda, Tripletail, Kingfish, Spanish Mackerel and a number of different shark species. 

What’s better than relaxing on the beach and wetting a line?

Offshore Fish

If you’re looking for a true offshore adventure, in search of pelagic species, south padre island can compete with any other coastal city on the gulf. A large commercial charter fleet can put you on Sailfish, Yellowfin Tuna, Blackfin Tuna, Mahi Mahi, Wahoo or the coveted Blue Marlin.

Want to try your luck bottom fishing for dinner? Well, Black grouper, Amberjack, Red Snapper, Triggerfish, Gag Grouper and countless other reef species are found throughout the region. 

And plenty of restaurants on the island will actually cook your catch for you!

Fishing From Land

There are several options for fishing from land in South Padre Island. Fishing piers, jetties, and surf fishing are popular methods that offer unique opportunities for anglers.

Fishing Piers: There are several fishing piers along South Padre Island that provide access to deeper waters where fish like Spanish mackerel, permit, barracuda, and tripletail can be found. One of the most popular in the area is the Pirates Landing Fishing Pier, which is located on the western side of Queen Isabella Causeway.

Jetties: The jetties at the southern tip of South Padre Island are known for their rocky structure, which attracts a variety of fish species. These long (and sometimes slippery) rock jetties yield giant redfish, black drum, tarpon, sharks and countless other species. Bucktail jigs on long 8-10 foot rods are the local favorite.

Surf Fishing: Surf fishing is a popular method for catching fish from the shoreline on South Padre Island. Anglers can target species like whiting, pompano, sharks, and flounder by casting from any of the public beaches along the barrier island. Shrimp, clams, and sand fleas are popular baits.

Fishing From A Boat

Fishing from a boat is the best way to really experience South Padre Island. With its calm bays, channels, and offshore waters, there are ample opportunities for boat fishing adventures. 

Launch your boat at any of the region’s public boat ramps or marinas, and head out in search of your desired species. 

Head east, out the Santiago Pass and you’ll have your pick of relatively unpressured offshore fishing areas. From reefs to wrecks, there are ample opportunities for anglers who do their homework.

And if it’s too windy, stay inland. Explore the vast Laguna Madre and its unspoiled coastline. Turn your compass south and visit South Bay, where you can see Mexico off in the distance. 

Regulations and Other Region-Specific Information

When fishing in South Padre Island, it’s essential to be aware of the local regulations and restrictions. Here are some region-specific information and regulations to keep in mind:

  • Fishing licenses: Texas requires a valid fishing license for anglers aged 17 and older. Licenses can be obtained online or from local tackle shops, bait shops, or sporting goods stores.
  • Size and bag limits: Texas has size and bag limits for various fish species, including redfish, speckled trout, flounder, and snook. It’s important to be aware of these limits and follow them to ensure sustainable fishing practices.
  • Protected species: South Padre Island is home to protected or endangered species, such as sea turtles and certain types of fish. It’s important to familiarize yourself with the regulations and guidelines for these species to avoid any harm or legal issues.
  • Conservation efforts: South Padre Island has ongoing conservation efforts to protect the environment and wildlife. Be mindful of any local conservation initiatives and follow best practices for responsible fishing.
  • Beach regulations: If you’re fishing from the beach, be mindful of local regulations and guidelines, such as driving on the beach, littering, or disturbing sea turtle nests. Respect the environment and follow beach regulations to help preserve the natural beauty of South Padre Island.
  • Fishing tournaments: South Padre Island hosts several fishing tournaments throughout the year. If you plan to participate in a fishing tournament, make sure to comply with all tournament rules and regulations, including catch limits, size limits, and tournament guidelines.


South Texas may be known for its wind-swept deserts and cattle ranches, but once you cross the bridge onto South Padre Island you’ll feel like you’re in a tropical paradise. It just looks fishy!

So pack your fishing gear, plan your trip and get ready to reel in some memorable catches in this beautiful fishing paradise! Good luck and thanks for reading.