Fishing the Upper Laguna Madre Versus the Lower Laguna Madre

Updated on November 22, 2022

Where is the Laguna Madre?

The southern portion of the Texas Coast consists of a long, shallow bay system known as the Laguna Madre. The Laguna Madre is a big place. At 130 miles long, fishermen won’t be able to cover the entire Laguna Madre in a single day on the water. There are a few features of the Laguna Madre that make it different from the other many bays in Texas.

Redfish on the Texas Coast

The Laguna Madre has less inflows of freshwater because there are not any major rivers flowing into the system. This helps makes the water hypersaline, and the extra salty water could be a factor in why speckled trout seem to grow so big in South Texas.

Also, the Laguna Madre is shallow compared to many other bay systems in Texas. There are flats that are less than two feet deep which run for miles throughout the lagoon. The seagrass beds on these shallow flats help to keep the water clear, which makes the Laguna Madre one of the most scenic bay systems in North America.

The Laguna Madre is divided into two main sections: the Upper Laguna Madre; and, the Lower Laguna Madre. The Upper Laguna Madre starts around the JFK causeway near Corpus Christi and runs south to the area known as the Land Cut. The Lower Laguna Madre starts at the Land Cut and runs south to Port Isabel and South Padre Island area. With the enormous size of the Laguna Madre, there are hundreds of great fishing spots for redfish, speckled trout, and black drum.

The Intercoastal Waterway runs down the middle of the Laguna Madre. North Padre Island and South Padre Island are the long, skinny barrier islands that separate the Laguna Madre from the Gulf of Mexico. The Padre Island National Seashore is a protected park area that covers most of this barrier island area. On the mainland, the Laguna Madre is bordered by several massive private ranches. Because of the park area and private land surrounding the Laguna Madre, there is virtually no development along the vast majority of the lagoon. If you like to get away from the crowds when you go out on the water, then the Laguna Madre is a great choice.

Here are some of the key things to think about when choosing between the Upper Laguna Madre and the Lower Laguna Madre for your next fishing excursion.

Upper Laguna Madre

Closest Places to Stay:

Corpus Christi, North Padre Island, Port Aransas, and the Riviera area (near Baffin Bay).

Special Features:

Baffin Bay, a legendary location for catching monster speckled trout, is connected to the Upper Laguna Madre.

Key Fish:

Speckled Trout, Redfish, and Black Drum.

Lower Laguna Madre

Closest Places to Stay:

Port Mansfield, South Padre Island, Port Isabel, and Arroyo City.

Special Features:

The cut near Port Mansfield is the only place to access the Gulf of Mexico from the middle of the Laguna Madre.

Key Fish:

Speckled Trout, Redfish, Black Drum, and Snook.

Fishing the Upper Laguna Madre

There are two main ways to access the Upper Laguna Madre. You can start at one of the main boat launches near Corpus Christi and head south. Alternatively, you can leave from the Riviera area and cross Baffin Bay to reach the southern end of the Upper Laguna Madre. There are dozens of popular fishing spots for anglers targeting redfish and speckled trout. Some of the more popular fishing locations in the Upper Laguna Madre include:

Night Hawk Bay

King Ranch Shoreline

Intercoastal Waterway Spoil Islands

Emmord’s Hole

Pita Island

The Meadows

The Hole

Rocky Slough

Yarborough

Both drift fishing and wade fishing are popular ways of targeting fish. As you near the mouth of Baffin Bay, areas with many rock formations can be found. The rocks are primarily along the western side of the lagoon. Navigating the rocks requires experience to avoid damaging your boat. Fishing amongst the rocks can be a rewarding way of catching trophy speckled trout and quality redfish. Captain Experiences offers a great selection of professional fishing guides who can take you on your next adventure to the Upper Laguna Madre from either the Corpus Christi area or the Baffin Bay area.

Fishing the Lower Laguna Madre

The two main locations for accessing the Lower Laguna Madre are Port Mansfield and the South Padre Island / Port Isabel area. If you fish out of Port Mansfield, then you have access to dozens of fishing locations in the northern half of the Lower Laguna Madre. South Padre Island and Port Isabel offer access to the southern half of the Lower Laguna Madre. Popular fishing spots for redfish and speckled trout in the Lower Laguna Madre include:

Port Mansfield Community Bar

Flats North of the Mansfield Cut

The Saucer

Gladis Hole

Intercoastal Waterway Spoil Islands

Cullen Bay

Long Bar

South Bay

As with the Upper Laguna Madre, both drift fishing and wade fishing are popular ways of catching fish in the Lower Laguna Madre. Drifting with a popping cork and either a live shrimp or artificial shrimp across the large grass flats or long spoil bars can lead to hours of successful redfish and speckled trout action. Captain Experiences has professional fishing guides based out of Port Mansfield, Port Isabel, and South Padre Island. Our guides can help you find the fish wherever you want to go throughout the Laguna Madre.

Choosing Between the Upper and Lower Laguna Madre

Both the Upper and Lower Laguna Madre offer world-class fishing for speckled trout and redfish. Texas state record trophy speckled trout have been caught from the Laguna Madre and Baffin Bay areas – there is no place like it for catching quality fish. It is tough to argue that one section of the Laguna Madre is better than the other because both the Upper Laguna Madre and Lower Laguna Madre offer some of the best inshore bay fishing along the Gulf of Mexico.

The main factor for most anglers in choosing whether to fish the Upper Laguna Madre versus the Lower Laguna Madre is location. If you will be spending your time in Corpus Christi or Port Aransas, then you can find a professional fishing guide to take you to the Upper Laguna Madre. For anglers who find themselves in Port Mansfield or South Padre Island, your inshore fishing charters will take you to the Lower Laguna Madre.

Whichever section of the Laguna Madre you have the pleasure to fish, Captain Experiences offers professional fishing guides to help make your day on the water a success.

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