Fishing in San Luis Pass: The Complete Guide for 2024

Apr 16, 2024 | 9 minute read
Reading Time: 9 minutes

Texas’s Gulf Coast is an infinite source of fishing opportunities. These rich waters can make any angler’s dream come true with fantastic inshore and offshore potential. The same rules apply to fishing in San Luis Pass. This strait, nestled between the sheltered West Bay and wild waters of the Gulf of Mexico, boasts incredible action. 

An aerial view of the San Luis Pass Toll Bridge on a sunny day with some cars parked up on the beach

However, casting a line here comes with its difficulties and dangers. Even though the pass is beautiful, these waters are treacherous and have been known to take lives. Square waves, rip tides, and unsafe patches of sand can make your car stuck or lose your footing. That’s why it’s paramount to exercise caution whenever you decide to come and, if possible, go out with a local. Now that you know what you can expect, let’s get into the good side of the story – fishing!

Best Fish to Catch in San Luis Pass

San Luis Pass acts as a gateway between the sheltered waters of the bays and the open Gulf. This means that a lot of fish come through here on their way in and out of the bay. What you can catch depends on where you’re going to make camp for the day. Redfish, Flounder, Speckled Trout, Sheepshead, and Sharks are some sought-after species you can look forward to.


This is the fish to go for when you’re out on the Pass. There are a lot of Redfish in the area, and they’re always hungry. The best time to target them is in late summer and fall when you’ve got the chance of landing a Bull.

Two fishermen standing on a charter boat, holding two big Redfish with blue skies and water in the background

Your main task is to find where the Redfish are congregating for the day. The trick is usually underwater structure. They like to hang around ledges and oyster beds, where there’s always a lot of food and plenty of cover. The marshes on the bayside of the pass are shallow and often full of tailing Redfish, which provides the perfect opportunity for sight casting.

Redfish fishing in San Luis Pass works best when you’re using live bait. These fellas aren’t picky and will gladly chow down on anything from mullet and shad to cracked crabs and shrimp. In fact, live shrimp is the best way to attract a Bull Red to your line. Speaking of lines, make sure you’re using strong fluorocarbon leaders to prevent cut lines when fishing the structures. You can also use popping corks and topwater plastics if you prefer artificials.


Another local favorite in and around San Louis Pass is Flounder. The best time to target these bottom dwellers is in late fall, meaning October and November. This is when they move from the surrounding bays into the Gulf, just in time for spawning. The action is on fire this time of year because a lot of fish go through the narrow pass – which is all but a guarantee you’ll hook into something.

Two men and a woman standing on a dock holding two Flounder each on a sunny day

Wherever you find shallow waters with a muddy or sandy bottom, you’ll find your prey. These fish are camouflage wizards and ambush predators that react both to scent and movement. This means you can use both live bait and scented lures and be successful. If you’re leaning toward live bait, shrimp, mullet, and mud minnows will serve you well. When it comes to lures, soft plastics are the way to go.

Remember that Flounder like their food to be brought to them. Find where the flatties are before you cast, be sure your offering is close to them, and don’t rush. These fish take their sweet time to bite, so give it to them. Flounder gigging is very popular all along the Texas Gulf Coast, especially during the night. If you’d like to try something different, this might be the way for you to get some delicious Flounder fillets.

Speckled Trout

It’s probably no surprise that when we’re talking about fishing in San Luis Pass, we’re mentioning the Big Three – Redfish, Flounder, and now Speckled Trout. These vicious predators will not spare your bait and there’s more than enough of them for everyone. You’ll find them around the bass and the bays year-round, but August–November is the most productive season.

A young angler in a cap holding a big Speckled Trout with blue skies and water behind him

Speckled Trout move around depending on the weather. You’ll find them in estuaries and shallow waters, wherever there’s cover where they can hide and hunt. As temperatures drop, they move to deep holes and reefs in the Gulf. Trout can be hard to find because their feeding times constantly change, but some patience will be worth it.

Specks are voracious eaters, so there’s an array of bait you can use to tempt them. Shrimp are the go-to live bait, but don’t forget to try with pinfish, manhaden, or mullet. Live bait fish can attract the infamous Gator Trout, which will be a blast to get into the boat. Popping corks are a great lure to use because they make a lot of noise which will get the attention of your Trout. Then, it’s time for battle!


Anyone looking for a fight with big and always-hungry fish shouldn’t miss out on Shark fishing in San Luis Pass. There are about 15 Shark species living in the bays around the pass, so there’s always something to target. Your best bet is to hit the water in the summer because that’s when the bite is at its best.

A smiling middle-aged woman standing on a dock, holding a small Blacktip Shark

Blacktip Sharks are the most common species in these waters, and they come in all sizes – from 25 inches upwards. Bull Sharks also prowl close to land, and Tiger and Spinner Sharks follow close behind. Hammerheads could find their way to your bait, and even some Spinner and Sharpnose Sharks. Closer to land, you’ll usually find smaller specimens, but if you’ve got a boat, you can find some trophies not too far out.

You’ll want sturdy equipment when you’re dealing with Sharks. Long rods (up to 10 feet) paired with a strong line and a very long leader are a winning starter kit. Since these fish can get quite bloodthirsty, live bait brings the most success. You won’t go wrong with bonito or whiting, and Sharks also love different types of rays, especially when the bait is cut and appeals to their sense of smell. These beasts are great fun to target and they’ll make you work to get them. But what a thrill it will be!


All the fish we talked about are beloved inshore game fish, and everyone wants to target them. Sheepshead might not be as feisty as a Bull Red or as aggressive as a Shark, but they make for a great catch because of their delicious meat. You’ll find plenty of them swimming around the pass and the bays in spring and summer, and the winter bite isn’t bad either.

A smiling woman in a hat and sunglasses holding a Sheepshead, with blue skies in the background

These so-called “Convict Fish” love shallow waters with a lot of structure, so jetties, rocks, and seagrass are their hanging spots. They usually move around in groups, so where you find one, you’ll find many. Sheepshead teeth eerily resemble human teeth and, while they’re strange to look at, they allow them to feed on crustaceans. Those teeth also allow them to be notorious bait thieves, so you need to pay extra attention when fishing for these little devils.

Since crustaceans are their favorite, you can’t go wrong when using shrimp and small crabs for live bait. When you think you’ve got a bite, set your hook hard! That’s the only way to keep a Sheepshead on the line because of their stacked teeth. You can get smaller fish in the surf, but if you’re looking for a bigger specimen, explore the shallow bays with a boat.

How to Go Fishing in San Luis Pass

We already mentioned that fishing in San Luis Pass isn’t without its challenges, but you can still enjoy great action as long as you’re cautious. If you’re wondering what’s the best way to explore the pass and surrounding bays, here are some options.

Surf Fishing

A surf angler standing in the waves with a fishing rod in his hand on a summer's day

Going out to the San Luis Pass and testing the waters from the beach is a great way to get to know the area. Don’t be surprised if you see a lot of fellow anglers on both sides of the pass. Surf fishing is hot here and productive practically all year.

All the species we mentioned are on the menu when you’re surf fishing – Redfish, Specks, Sheepshead, Sharks, and Flounder, along with many more including Black Drum, Rays, and even some Cobia and Spanish Mackerel further out. If you’re driving to the beach, beware of the dry sand because your vehicle can get stuck. When you’re casting, wade into the water only up to your ankles, anything more than that can get very dangerous very quickly. Bring your favorite light tackle gear, stock up on live bait, and get fishing.

Fishing with a Charter

A center console charter boat at a dock on a cloudy day in San Luis Pass

San Luis Pass is located right between two big Texas fishing hubs – Galveston to the east and Freeport to the west. If you’re staying in either of these cities (or somewhere nearby), there are dozens of charters you can choose from to take you fishing around the pass.

The main and most obvious advantage of fishing with a charter is that you’ll have a professional by your side. You’ll be as safe as you can be, even if the waters of in the pass become rough. Then there’s the fact that you can cover more spots with a boat and explore not only the strait, but also the back bays, marshes, and flats as you see fit. Your guide will know where to go to put you on the bite and you don’t have to worry about crowds and riptides. Drift fishing is usually the name of the game because it gives the best results.

Kayak Fishing

A kayak fisherman rowing in open waters while another kayak with multiple guests is visible in the distance

Kayak fishing is a great choice for fishermen who are do-it-yourselfers and prefer to chart their own course. Going out on your ‘yak can be a rewarding experience, but we’d strongly recommend doing it with someone. Even though you’re safer in your kayak compared to swimming, the tides in the Pass are highly unpredictable. It’s better to be safe than sorry.

The back bays and passes around Mud and Moodys Islands hold a lot of fish and kayak fishing is a great way to reach them. The waters are shallow and often stained, and you can expect slot Redfish and Sheepshead here. In this scenario, it’s definitely more convenient to use artificial lures to get that fish to bite. You can start your kayak adventure straight from the beach and from San Luis County Park.

San Luis Pass Fishing Spots

An aerial view of a quiet San Luis Pass Beach on a sunny day with the Gulf of Mexico on the right-hand side of the image

As you’ve probably concluded, the waters of San Luis Pass are very productive and there’s no shortage of prolific fishing spots. Here are some you shouldn’t miss out on.

  • San Luis Beach: This is probably the first place you’ll visit on your fishing escapade. From here, you can cast your line in the surf for Flounder, Redfish, Specks, Sharks, Weakfish, and much more.
  • Hooch Island: You’ll find Hooch Island right behind Treasure Island, soon after you cross the San Luis Pass Toll Bridge. Redfish, Rays, Croaker, and even Alligator Gar are possible here.
  • Cold Pass: Keep going west, and you’ll be in the Cold Pass in no time. The waters here can get stained, but not too deep, so you can reel in Croaker, Redfish, Black Drum, and small Blacktip Sharks.
  • Titlum-Tatlum Bayou: The north side of Moodys Island promises excellent fishing. All the great catches call these calm waters home – Black Drum, Speckled Trout, Redfish, Flounder, and Sheepshead.
  • Churchill Bayou: This spot is a bit of a boat ride away from San Luis Pass, but it boasts strong fishing. Croaker, Weakfish, Sheepshead, and slot Redfish all call these waters home.

San Luis Pass Fishing Regulations

An infographic featuring Texas state flag and text that says "San Luis Pass Fishing Regulations" and "What you need to know" against a blue background with a charter boat and the Texas state flag

One of the main preparations you need to do before your San Luis Pass fishing trip is to get a Texas fishing license. Both solo anglers and those fishing with a charter over the age of 17 should have a valid license with them at all times.

In the case of San Luis Pass, you’ll need a saltwater fishing license, and it’s up to you to choose how long it will last. Check the latest rules and regulations when it comes to creel limits and sizes, too. That way, you’ll avoid keeping any undersized fish.

Fishing in San Luis Pass – A Different Kind of Adventure

A group of anglers on a fishing boat, each holding a fish they caught in San Luis Pass

San Luis Pass is a great example of a prolific Texas fishery. You can stay in the inshore waters and get your hands on all the local favorites or head further out for the chance of offshore battles. 

The very real dangers of these waters should be taken seriously, but that doesn’t stop avid fishermen from showing up year after year. That fact alone is enough to understand that this unique adventure is worth your time and effort.

Have you ever fished San Luis Pass? Do you have advice for newcomers? Maybe a story you’d like to share? Let us know in the comments below.

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Andriana has been in love with nature since before she could walk, and she lives to explore the great outdoors whenever she has the chance. Be it traveling to far-off lands, hiking, or mountain climbing, Andriana loves discovering new places and writing about them. The first time she went fishing with her dad she insisted on returning all the catch into the water. Dad was not pleased. Her curiosity about fishing only grew from there, and she’s been writing and learning about it for years. Andriana’s favorite fish to catch is Mahi Mahi.

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