“Laguna Madre” translates to Mother Lagoon. Early 16th century Spanish explorers named it after encountering the beautiful and bountiful waters. The lagoon is located at the southern tip of the Lone Star State and is protected from the Gulf of Mexico by Padre Island (“Father Island’). We can appreciate the sentiment: Mother and Father taking care of the needs of several fish species, birds, and wildlife throughout this marvelous place.
Nowhere else in the United States will you find an estuary as complex and unique as Laguna Madre. The salinity of the lagoon is similar to only a handful of other estuaries in the world and is considered “hypersaline.” In fact, it has more saltwater than the oceans (basically, it’s “saltier”). For this reason, most of the water and shoreline are protected by the Padre Island National Seashore and Laguna Atascosa National Wildlife Refuge.
Laguna Madre is typically referred to in two sections: Upper Laguna Madre and Lower Laguna Madre. In total the lagoon is about 130 miles long and between 4 to 6 miles wide in certain areas. Upper Laguna Madre includes Baffin Bay and Bird Island, both excellent fishing grounds. Then pass through the Saltillo Flats, the general dividing point between the two sections, and you enter Lower Laguna Madre. Here you’ll find the King Ranch shoreline, a private ranch that is a popular place to find year round redfish and trout.
Many anglers visit the lagoon throughout the year; it is by far one of the most productive fisheries in the state and offers some of the best fishing grounds in the country. Fishermen and women from far and wide come to enjoy the opportunities found in Laguna Madre.
Fishing Laguna Madre
The various seagrass found in Laguna Madre not only helps to keep the predatory fish camouflaged to unsuspecting prey, it also leads anglers right to some of the best fishing of their lives. Schools of redfish are found among the grassbeds feeding on shrimp and crab. All you have to do is get the bait close enough without tangling up your line.
The TPWC (Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission) has done a fantastic job of managing the spotted seatrout population. Slot and bag limits are now in effect throughout the lagoon with different requirements for Upper Laguna Madre and Lower Laguna Madre; make sure to check what you’re allowed to harvest before setting out. Many anglers will visit Laguna Madre with eyes only for trout. And we don’t blame them, especially during spawning seasons in the spring (April and May) and early fall (August and September). Again, they’ll be found in the structures of the grassbeds looking for food such as crab and shrimp.
Flying under the radar in Laguna Madre is the black drum. At one time, the population of black drum was about four times the amount of spotted seatrout (according to this TWPD monitoring program). The fishing grounds of Upper Laguna Madre from Corpus Christi to Port Isabel has some of the best fishing around several access points to get you in on the action. Anglers can catch a black drum upto 50 pounds with the right kind of bait (usually shrimp or oysters). Once again, check the regulations for bag and slot limits, which are currently five per angler per day between 14 and 30 inches long.
Visiting Laguna Madre
The 130 mile long lagoon has several access points for anglers, whether you are wade fishing, shore fishing, or actually on the water in a bay boat or kayak.
Wade fishing in Laguna Madre is possibly the most popular technique among anglers. The water is shallow enough throughout the lagoon and you can get to remote grassbeds easier. Oftentimes anglers will boat out into the lagoon, then climb out of the boat and wade fish the ledges. This allows for ninja-like angling, sneaking up on the schools of fish and getting your line closer than ever.
Kayak fishing is similar to wade fishing in its quiet approach. Kayaks typically fit one angler per vessel, and you’re paddling your way to the fishing grounds. All your tackle and gear fits on the kayak and is easily within reach. Anglers who opt for kayak fishing will either harvest just a few of their catch, or practice catch-and-release. It’s an athletic adventure for sure, but the rewards make the work worthwhile.
Laguna Madre Charters
Get your crew to Laguna Madre to truly experience this unique and wonderful fishing opportunity. If you are unfamiliar with the area, we recommend hiring a local professional charter captain or guide. They will know the area, the fish, and how to get you in on the action. With FishAnywhere you can reserve your trip with as little as 10% deposit. You’re just a few clicks away from the adventure of a lifetime, book your Laguna Madre fishing charter today!
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