If you’re serious about angling, you know that fishing in Galveston is one of the best things a fisher could hope for. This strip of land on the Texan coast has produced more angling experts than virtually any locale in the state. And for a fishery as prolific as the Lone Star State, that’s saying a lot. What is it that makes Galveston such a good place to wet a line?
Well for one, the town is surrounded by an array of different waterways. Inshore inlets and protected bays? It’s got plenty. Nearshore reefs and deep Gulf blues? Yup. Combine this with a litany of game fish, and you’ll realize that Galveston offers almost every type of fishing under the sun.
If the myriad of angling opportunities leaves you wondering where to begin, we don’t blame you. That’s why in this guide, we’ll show you exactly what you can catch and how. We’ll also cover where the best fishing grounds are, as well as which regulations you should keep in mind. Once you’re done reading, you’ll know exactly what fishing in Galveston is all about.
Fish Species in Galveston
We could write a book on all the fish you can catch in Galveston. As riveting a read as that would be, we’re pretty sure that you’d rather catch these fish than read about their biology. All jokes aside, let’s see which are the signature species in Galveston, and when and where you can catch them.
Redfish and Speckled Trout
If there’s anything synonymous with Texas inshore fishing, it’s got to be Redfish and Speckled Trout. These two fish are a lot of fun to catch, and they’re abundant pretty much year-round. Better yet, Specks and Reds keep relatively close to shore, making them a perfect choice for newbies and fishing families.
There’s no wrong time to fish for Redfish and Speckled Trout, but around fall, these guys kick it up a notch. With all due respect to Specks, there’s no doubt about which fish dominates in this couple. Known for swarming the local bays during their fall migrations, Texan Bull Reds can even give experienced anglers a run their money.
Look for Reds and Specks on the grassy flats around Galveston Bay and West Bay. If you prefer to stay on land, you can catch this dynamic duo from one of Galveston’s fishing piers.
Another iconic Texan species, Flounder is a local angler’s favorite. At first glance, these guys may not look like much. Sure, their grubby flat bodies won’t win them any beauty contests. They’re not that big either. But what Flounder lack in looks, they definitely make up in cunning and flavor.
Masters of disguise, Flounder like to wiggle themselves into the soft sandy bottoms of Galveston’s shallow waters. Such a peculiar fish warrants its own fishing tactic. This is where Flounder gigging comes in. Tricky but incredibly rewarding, gigging involves spotting your Flatfish and piercing it with a spear.
These trips usually take place at night, but thankfully, there are plenty of local charter guides that specialize in this kind of fishing. Flounder fishing comes to Galveston in two waves. The first, smaller wave, occurs between April and June. The second, larger wave, takes place between October and December. This is considered peak Flounder season in Galveston.
Since Flounder spawn in November, gigging is not allowed at this time. However, you can still fish them with the old pole and line.
If you’re looking to add some excitement to your angling, Galveston’s Shark population will be happy to oblige. From small feisty Sharks inshore, to huge brutes offshore, Galveston has a Shark for every type of angler out there.
Some of the Sharks you’re most likely to encounter are Blacktips, Tiger Sharks, and Hammerheads. From local piers, to artificial reefs and distant oil rigs, you’ll have no trouble finding these monsters. To catch a Shark in Galveston, time your outing between late May and September.
At the time of writing, the TPWD allowed anglers one Shark per person per day with a two-Shark possession limit.
If you’re fishing for dinner, there’s no beating Red Snapper. Gutsy attitude and delicate flaky meat make this guy the most sought-after fish in the entire Gulf. It so happens that Galveston is one of the best places to catch one.
Every year, an army of hopeful anglers comes to Galveston to experience Red Snapper fishing. As you’d expect, the town has a no less impressive number of charter captains to accommodate all these eager souls.
Now obviously, a fish this special requires strict regulations. Thankfully, Texas is traditionally looser with its seasonal and bag limits compared to other Gulf states. Fishing in state waters is open year-round, while fishing in federal waters is limited to around 60 days per year.
Snapper fishing laws change every year, so be sure to check the latest regulations before you head out. You should also know that there’s a limited number of captains that are licensed to take you fishing in federal waters. Snapper fishing trips sell out fast, so if you want a go at the Gulf’s most appetizing fish, book your charter in time!
Scratching the Surface
As we mentioned, the list of fish you can catch in Galveston could go on forever. Whether it’s battling Tarpon on the flats, catching Cobia and Mackerel on the reefs, or heading off to deep blue waters for Mahi and Jacks, this Texan gem has awesome angling written all over it.
Types of Fishing in Galveston
The vast network of waters around Galveston isn’t just home to a bunch of fish species. It also serves as a bona fide training ground for many types of fishing. Let’s cover some of the most popular ones.
Shore fishing is one of the most enjoyable ways to spend your time in Galveston. The fish are close, and there are plenty of spots to catch them around. The best thing about it is that you can make it entirely what you want it to be.
Want to learn new tricks and hang out with other anglers? Head down to one of the local fishing piers. Want some quiet time instead? There are plenty of flats and inlets just outside of town.
Fishing from a kayak is a great way to experience Galveston’s inshore waters up close. Mostly done on the bay side of the island, kayak fishing trips will put you on the likes of Speckled Trout, Black Drum, and Redfish. Awesome fishing aside, these trips really allow you to experience the local scenery firsthand.
There are a number of launch points in town, including 8 Mile Road, Washington Park, and 103rd Street. If you’re looking to fish outside of town, check out the North Jetty on Bolivar or Pelican Island.
Without a doubt, shore fishing and kayak fishing are a lot of fun. But if you’re looking to experience fishing in Galveston to the fullest, only one thing can fit the bill.
Galveston fishing charters are among the best in the entire Gulf, hands down. The sheer variety of species you can catch and the overall feeling of adventure are pretty much unrivaled.
Several things make an outing on a fishing charter a special experience. Number one, your captain. As one of the Gulf’s most productive fisheries, Galveston has no shortage of expert charter guides. These guys hook more fish in a season than most of us will in a lifetime, so you can bet that they know what they’re talking about.
Number two, your boat. Charter boats in Galveston cover all your gear needs, as well as a few optional extras. Depending on the fishing trip you’re after, you can go out on a basic flats boat, or a powerful deluxe vessel stacked with the latest electronics and all the amenities you can think of.
Galveston Fishing Spots
As we mentioned, Galveston has no shortage of productive fishing locales. Unless you’re fishing with a seasoned guide, you’ll need to know at least a couple of these honey holes yourself. Thankfully, the local bait and tackle shops will gladly sell you a guide map with the most fruitful locations. The TPWD even has an interactive map listing many of the Gulf’s sweet spots.
From the Shore
We could write a whole book on the best shore fishing sites in Galveston. To get you started, here are some of the most prolific spots to check out:
- 61 St. Fishing Pier and Galveston Fishing Pier – Two very productive fishing spots, great for catching Redfish, Black Drum, Spanish Mackerel, and Blacktip Sharks. Both piers are equipped with bait and tackle shops.
- Seawolf Park – Located on Pelican Island, this is a good spot for Black Drum and Redfish. There are fish cleaning stations and restrooms nearby.
- Galveston Island State Park – A good license-free spot for Redfish and Speckled Trout. There’s a camping area with showers and cookout facilities on site.
From a Boat
For inshore fishing, check out Hanna’s Reef in East Bay. This is a good spot for Redfish and Specks. If the waters are calm, you can check out West Bolivar Flats, just outside the Bay. And if you want something closer to home, give the sandy flats around Pelican Island a go.
Nearshore fishing will typically take you several miles into the Gulf. These trips are your chance to land fish like Kingfish, Cobia, Wahoo, Mahi, and Sharks. Look for artificial reefs and shipwrecks, these waters are dotted with hundreds of them!
Offshore fishing is all about catching the largest predators you can find. This is big boy territory, and we’re talking angler and fish alike. Monsters like Blackfin Tuna, Ling, as well as huge Jacks and Mahi are all here for the taking. Offshore trips can take you anywhere from 60 to 100 miles to sea, but the long ride is more than worth it.
One of the most popular places for offshore fishing is the Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary, 100 miles from Galveston. The series of underwater mountains and reef-building corals attract a real who’s-who of the marine world.
Unlike some other Gulf states, Texas fishing charters don’t cover your fishing license. In other words, if you’re age 17 or older, you’ll need to purchase a permit to fish in Texas. One exception to this rule is that you don’t need a license to fish from banks or piers in any of the Texan State Parks. To learn more about licensing, check out our in-depth guide.
By now, we’re pretty sure that you can see how special fishing in Galveston can be. From its numerous fishing grounds to the unrivaled bounty it offers, this town will redefine your idea of “good fishing.”
Got questions about fishing in Galveston? Or an awesome angling story you’d like to share? Drop us your thoughts in the comments below!
Sean is an optometrist who left his day job to write about fishing. He calls himself a lucky angler because his favorite fish, Mahi Mahi, can be found almost anywhere – even though he’s lost more of them than he’s willing to admit. Obsessed by all forms of water sports, you’ll find him carrying one of three things: a ball, a surf board, or his fishing rod.