Updated on August 25, 2022
Texas has two borders along its coastline. Louisiana shares a border with Texas on the northeast end of the Texas coast. The southwest end of the Texas coast shares a border with Mexico. The Texas-Louisiana border runs down the middle of Sabine Lake, a relatively deep saltwater bay system typical of the Upper Texas Coast. Sabine Lake is best accessed from Port Arthur and the surrounding communities. A few miles north of the Texas-Mexico border lies the Laguna Madre, a long, shallow saltwater bay system that runs along the Lower Texas Coast. This lower portion of the Laguna Madre is best accessed from Port Isabel and South Padre Island, which both share a bridge crossing the Lower Laguna Madre.
If you are planning to target one of the two main species of inshore game fish, speckled trout and redfish, then you will not be disappointed in either Port Arthur or Port Isabel / South Padre Island. Trout and reds can be caught from one end of the Texas coast to the other, and that is a long distance. The Texas coastline is calculated to be 367 miles long. A car drive using the major highways between Port Arthur and Port Isabel would cover nearly 460 miles and take seven hours or more. Despite this great distance, redfish and speckled trout seem to be perfectly at home along both Texas coastal borders.
With other fish species, the distance between the Sabine River and the Rio Grande River makes a much bigger difference. As you might expect, the waters along the Texas-Louisiana border are rather similar to much of the saltwater areas that you fish in Louisiana. Sabine Lake is an open, deep water bay, but it is surrounded by marshes and has a high influx of freshwater from multiple rivers that flow into the area. These marshes are home to thousands of flounder, and flounder fishing in the Sabine Lake area is amongst the best found anywhere along the Texas Coast.
By contrast, the inshore waters around Port Isabel and South Padre Island are shallower, clearer and warmer. These warmer waters are the best place in Texas to target snook and other warm water species. Snook are regularly caught throughout the warm coastal waters of far South Texas, but these quality fish are rarely found more than a few dozen miles north of the Texas-Mexico border. To be fair, snook can still be elusive for South Texas fishermen, but experienced fishing guides can help put anglers in the best spots to catch this prized fish species.
Fishing guides are available throughout the Texas coast, and the Texas border bays are no exception. Guides can be found through Captain Experiences via the search bar on our website and using the links below:
For fishermen, one of the big differences you will notice when fishing Sabine Lake versus the Lower Laguna Madre is the method in which you fish. In Sabine Lake, you will likely spend some quality time drifting within a hundred yards of the shoreline. This is because the water drops off quickly and the shorelines are dotted with drains, small reefs, and sandbars that are easily accessible by boat. In the Lower Laguna Madre, many shorelines are very shallow. If you are in a boat, chances are that any drift fishing in the Lower Laguna Madre will be further away from the shore because the edges in many areas are only a few inches deep.
The difference in water depth also means that there are more waters available to wade fish in the Lower Laguna Madre. From Port Isabel and South Padre Island, you can access miles and miles of pristine grass flats where you can wade after reds and trout in hopes of catching that fish of a lifetime. Fly fishing is also common throughout the Lower Laguna Madre. In the Sabine Lake area, there are a few shallow back lakes and the areas along the shore that are technically shallow enough to wade, but the vast majority of anglers stay in the boat when fishing the Texas-Louisiana border. Alligators are abundant in Sabine Lake and the surrounding marshes, and you can probably ask your fishing guide to point a few gators out for you.
At Captain Experiences, we love to help anglers who want to fish anywhere along the Gulf Coast. For help booking a Texas coastal fishing guide from Port Arthur all the way down to Port Isabel and South Padre Island, visit us here.