Woods, Waters and Wildlife: A coastal catharsis


How many means are there to spend leisure time along the Texas Gulf Coast? Let me count the ways!

As poetic as that last sentence may sound, my 500-word limit, won’t allow enough space. So, let me just mention a couple of my favorites as the Memorial Day weekend looms closer, followed by an entire summer of the best saltwater fishing of the year.

First – to me – is fishing, followed closely by photography and just hanging out in, on or near the water, smelling salt air and listening to the gulls. It’s a place to BE.

Texas is blessed with 367 miles of coastline, ranking the sixth longest – just below Louisiana. Really? Look at any map of the two states’ coastlines! Counting our bays, the length is reported as 3,359 miles, still below Louisiana. Over there, they must count bayous as coastline – or mud flats created by Mississippi River silt.

Before I provoke an inter-state war, let me get back to point. From Port Arthur to Brownsville there are countless places to play and relax. Starting at the Texas Point and McFaddin National Wildlife refuges on the north and ending at South Padre Island and Boca Chica Beach on the southern tip, there are miles of precious, sandy beaches and surf.

In between are legendary beaches at Galveston, Matagorda Island, Rockport, Aransas Pass, Port Aransas, Corpus, Mustang Island, North Padre Island and others. As a kid, I dreamed of going to Port Aransas, which had signs along highways touting Pt. A as “Where the fish bite every day.” That can also be said of the aforementioned beachfronts. You just have to hit it when the wind and weather are conducive to fishing.

Guides work all these areas and chambers of commerce and the Internet can provide contact information. Many areas were heavily damaged by Hurricane Harvey, but recovery is nearing completion in most.

Rockport-Fulton – not on the Gulf but nevertheless having a beach on Aransas Bay – was hard-hit but claims 58 percent of hotel rooms are again available. Expect 73 percent soon as others are completed, and 80 percent by mid-summer. Notable hurricane renovations include Rockport Beach, airport reconstruction, Cove Harbor expansion, nine re-built bait stands and a $1.7 million lighted Fulton fishing pier.

Aransas Pass, the gateway to the Lighthouse Lakes, was devastated but is recovering. Pt. A, also hurricane-hammered, says almost all rooms are available except at a few condos. Traditional off-shore party fishing boats like the Wharf Cat and Scat Cat were affected but the “Scat” is working now, and the “Wharf” will be back up soon. While I was accompanying legendary fly-fishing guide Chuck Naiser and a client to San Jose Island’s shoreline last week, my wife bay-fished aboard Capt. Kelly’s boat and brought home several meals. Yumm! My son and friends fished again recently with Capt. Franki Echols (361-701-7711) and scored big, as usual. The fishing is excellent!

Garth Brooks’ song says, “Heartaches are healed by the sea.” Just being there is good for what ails ya!


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