Fishing Galveston Bay

February 11, 2020

woman fishing off boat, Lake Rousseau

Galveston Bay on the Texas Gulf Coast is arguably one of the best places to fish in all of Texas. It’s the seventh largest estuary in the United States, and is a great place to fish for redfish, speckled trout, flounder, and more. The bay creates a unique habitat due to its shallow water, reaching an average depth of 6 feet. But this uniqueness offers a great fishery for those visiting the brackish waters.

Located near Houston, Galveston Bay is a favorite vacation destination for those looking to get out of the city. Nearby Galveston offers a variety of lodging accommodations, as well as restaurants, shops, and family activities. Families can either fish the inshore bays (Galveston, as well as Trinity and East bays) or the bountiful Gulf of Mexico. For the non-anglers in your family, they will be content to lay on the beautiful beaches of Galveston while you spend the day catching dinner.

When fishing Galveston Bay, you’re sure to find yourself going after one of the top three species of the area: red drum (also known as redfish), speckled trout, or flounder. Let’s take a closer look at these top species in the bay…

Fishing for Redfish in Galveston Bay

You may hear anglers talking about slot reds, bull reds, red drum, or redfish. Don’t worry… these are all essentially the same fish. “Slot reds” means the redfish at the end of your line fits within the size regulations, 20” to 28”; while “bull reds” are those over 28” and can be harvested with proper tags. In Galveston Bay, each angler is allowed to harvest three redfish a day that meet the size regulations.

Redfish are bronze or tan colored with a distinct black dot (or dots) near the tail. They enjoy feeding on crustaceans such as crab and shrimp. When they feed in shallow waters, anglers can glimpse the tops and backs of the redfish, known as “tailing”. Sight fishing for redfish in the shallows is a favorite fishing technique among anglers.

Fall months of October and November offer fantastic fishing for reds in Galveston Bay. This is the beginning of their spawning season, and the entire school is migrating out of the bay into the Gulf. It’s easy picking as they travel in large groups and are looking for food. Position yourself near the pass between the bay and the gulf, and get ready for an action-packed day of catching reds!

Fishing for Speckled Trout in Galveston Bay

Another favorite species to fish in Galveston Bay is the speckled trout, also known as the spotted seatrout. Their spotted backs make them easily distinguishable from other fish in the area. They are fun to catch and good to eat. All around, a great fish to target in Galveston Bay.

Throughout the year trout can be found in the deeper parts of the bay, along the sandy bottoms. Drift a shrimp or lure that imitates shrimp along the bottom of the bay and you’re certain to get the trout’s attention. Because Galveston Bay is considered a shallow body of water, you can find trout throughout the estuary. If you’re looking for a larger trout, offer larger bait options. Light to medium tackle is typically used.

Wading into the bay looking for trout is very popular; and highly rewarding. Your Galveston Bay charter will pilot you to the fishing grounds, and let you climb out of the boat once you’ve reached the fishing grounds. Waders are typically provided in the cost of the trip, but feel free to bring your own. Wade fishing for trout gets you close to the action, and is an exciting way to spend your Galveston Bay fishing excursion.

Fishing for Flounder in Galveston Bay

When anglers get a flounder on the line, it’s usually by accident. These flatfish are difficult to catch during the daytime, but a whole lot of fun if you opt for flounder gigging at night. Flounder, also known as fluke, are great to target throughout the entire year, but peak season is from October to December during the fall migration.

Some anglers will opt for rod and reel and position themselves near a ledge or dropoff when fishing for flounder. Flounder are predatory fish and will hide near reefs and ledges to ambush their prey. If your bait is presented in the right way, drifting near their hiding hole, you can hook the flounder with a swift set of the hook. You have to be quick, though, flounder are known as swift strikers, and you have to be ready to set the hook and start reeling before they go back into their hiding spots.

Other anglers really enjoy flounder gigging. Gigging is essentially a long pole with a barbed, forked end that spears the flounder. You can opt for a daytime gigging charter, but the night time gigging trips are much more successful, and fun! Your Galveston Bay captain will have the boat rigged with LED lights, and you’ll scan the water looking for red eyes and the outline of their silhouette as they lay in the shallows. Again, look near ledges or drop offs, and strike quickly.

Other Fish of Galveston Bay

While redfish, trout, and flounder certainly are the stars of the show in Galveston Bay, there are certainly other species available in the area. Among them are sheepshead, black drum, catfish, and even sharks. Sharks make their way in from the Gulf and offer exciting sights near the pass.

Galveston Bay Fishing Charters

Who’s ready to fish Galveston Bay?! If you don’t have your own vessel, consider hiring a local professional charter. The Captains in the area have the experience to guide you to a successful trip. If you choose to go it alone, make sure to know Texas regulations before harvesting your catch. Any which way you look at it, a day spent fishing Galveston Bay is a great day!

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