Hi, I'm Cade. Like lots of folks that read this magazine, I'm one of your everyday Do-It-Yourself fishermen with a great passion for the outdoors and I love the adventure of learning new fishing areas all along the Texas coast. Break out your Hook-N-Line Fishing map and follow me as I explore and enjoy the great fishing each area has to offer.
In recent issues you may have noticed I have been venturing farther and farther south. This month I want to tell about a recent trip I made to Aransas Pass, a popular fishing destination about a half hour or so north of Corpus Christi. With a few of my good comrades along for the trip, this outing was a special one. We budgeted two days to fish and with a lifetime's worth of fishing spots available in and around Aransas Pass, we decided to narrow our focus to the Lighthouse Lakes (Hook-N-Line locations 22-32) for the first day and the Estes Flats/Talley Island (fishing location 39) for our shorter, second day. Hook-N-Line map F130 will help you zero in on the areas we fished.
When and Weather
This trip took place in late March. The daytime temps were in the upper 70s to low 80s. Skies were mostly cloudy in the morning and sunny by the afternoon. Winds blew mostly from the southeast at a moderate 10-15mph. Fishing in the Aransas Pass/Port Aransas area really takes off in early spring and remains very good through November. Fishing the flats is all about tide level and water temperature and we were definitely a little early to enjoy the best the area has to offer. However, we put in a good effort and found a few fish and we definitely want to return to learn more.
Tackle and Gear
My primary tackle setup for this trip was a Castaway Skeleton 7' M paired with a Shimano Citica 200g6, spooled with 30lb Power Pro braid with a six foot section of Suffix 15lb clear monofilament leader.
In the lure department I was throwing the Super Spook Jr. with black back and white belly
I highly recommend making a visit to Slowride Guide Service. Dean Thomas is the owner/operator and can give you some friendly tips before you hit the water. He also rents kayaks and sells assorted lures and fishing accessories.
For bait, there are a handful of options. Those familiar with the area might know of the old Crab Man Marina. It was recently purchased by the "Baitshack" family and reopened as Tarpon Shores. The original Baitshack is in Conn Brown Harbor. Tarpon Shores and the Baitshack sell live and dead bait, have a launch spot/boat ramp, and a cleaning station on site. Both locations also sell tackle and snacks. Fin and Feather RV Park and Marina, Redfish Bay Marina, South Bay Bait, and Hampton's Landing are other bait/launch spots to access different fishing locations.
Hitting the water
We paddled out from the Light House Lakes Park located along the Aransas Channel and began to weave in and out of the cuts and lakes comprising this beautiful area. The average depth encountered in the portions of the LHL we fished was about one foot and gin clear - great for sight-fishing - I'm certain this varies seasonally. By the end of the day all in my group were quite comfortable standing in the kayaks and "poling" around looking for hungry fish.
An important note: bring your map! The LHL area is an intricately woven system of waterways and it would not be hard to get lost without your map to reference the markers scattered through the lakes. Slowride Guide Service also sells area specific satellite photo maps, lining out different routes through the lakes.
Day two we drove out of town a few miles towards Rockport. Palm Harbor Marina and RV Park is a perfect launch spot for accessing the eastern flats and marshes of Redfish Bay. Pay a minimal launch fee and you are ready to go. Paddle straight across the ICW into Estes Cove. As my buddies and I did just that, we were greeted by active bait in the flats. Chasing the bait were some nice speckled trout which we managed to catch a few of with our topwater lures. This flat is a perfect area for wading as well. Palm Harbor has a cleaning station right near the launch spot when you are done and ready to clean your catch.
Where to eat and where to sleep
Redfish Willie's was our restaurant of choice to wind down a long first day of fishing. The restaurant is part of a new development in Conn Brown Harbor located on Huff Street. Redfish Willie's has a tasty seafood menu at very reasonable prices. My fish and chips were fresh and well cooked. You can even bring in your catch and have them cook it fresh for you. Two thumbs up for Redfish Willie's.
Other restaurants I took note of that looked attractive are the Butter Churn Restaurant (packed for lunch on Sunday, so something must be good), Pepitos and Taqueria Guadalajara Mexican restaurants also seemed attractive and had full parking lots.
It stood out to me that Stripes Valero station was the only, at least as I saw, convenience store open early in the morning. Definitely helpful for those of us getting to the water before sunup and needing a quick fix on ice, snacks, breakfast or a morning cup of joe.
Motels in the area include the Neptune Motel, which is where I stayed, Holiday Inn, Super 8, and Seabreeze Motel and Cottages.
I learned that Tarpon Shores allows tent camping on the property for a minimal fee. They have showers and bathrooms that would give Buccee's a run for their money.
As is the norm in Texas coastal towns, RV Parks are not in short supply. Aransas Bay RV Park, Hooked Up RV Park, Ransom Road RV Park, and Mobile Village RV Park are just a sample of what Aransas Pass has to offer.
The Other Angles
Most of the bay system between Aransas Pass and Port Aransas are fairly shallow, perfect for skinny water boats, kayaks, and wade fishermen.
Lighthouse Lakes Park has a long stretch of water access with picnic seating areas and small piers. Launching your kayak or wading out a little from here is very convenient. I took note of many people just fishing from the bank.
Back in Conn Brown Harbor there is a larger lit fishing pier. The harbor also has a suitable cleaning table.
A stone's throw north along the Aransas Channel from Lighthouse Lakes Park is Tarpon Shores. They too have a cleaning station and are quite close to one of the overpasses connecting Aransas Pass and Port Aransas. Several weekend warriors were fishing under these bridges.
Lighthouse Lakes has been on my "coastal bucket list" for some time now. It came through with flying colors to meet my expectations as a paddle anglers dream spot. Navigating through the mangroves over the clear water, I almost forgot I was still in Texas, it is a stunning area.
Fishing opportunity around Aransas Pass is plentiful. With back bays, channels, cuts, guts, islands, marshes, lakes, flats, all comprising the bay systems, just take your pick and go for it.
If you would like more information on the Aransas Pass area, visit www.aransaspass.org
Slowride Guide Service (361) 758-0463 () www.slowrideguide.com
Tarpon Shores (361)758-3454 www.tarponshoresmarina.com
Redfish Willie's (361) 758-9000 ()www.redfishbayboathouse.com
For questions regarding this article, I can be reached at 936-776-7028, by email to [email protected]. You can also find me on Facebook.