or TEXT US (956) 734-3364

Top 7 Fish to Catch in South Padre Island: A Complete Guide

South Padre Island

South Padre Island, located off the southern coast of Texas, is a popular vacation destination known for its beautiful beaches, affordable family beach rentals, and fantastic fishing opportunities. Whether you’re staying in a luxurious beach house or one of the many affordable beach condos in the area, you’ll want to take advantage of the diverse range of fish species waiting to be caught.

In this guide, we’ll introduce you to the top 7 fish to catch in South Padre Island.

1. Redfish (Sciaenops ocellatus)

Redfish, also known as red drum, are a popular inshore species that can be found in the flats, channels, and shallow waters surrounding South Padre Island. These strong fighters can grow up to 60 inches long and are known for their distinctive black spot near their tail. When targeting redfish, use live or cut bait like shrimp, mullet, or crab. Be prepared for a thrilling fight, as these fish are known to put up a challenging battle before being reeled in.

2. Speckled Trout (Cynoscion nebulosus)

Speckled trout, or spotted seatrout, is a highly sought-after gamefish found in the bays and estuaries of South Padre Island. These beautiful fish are known for their distinct spots and can grow up to 35 inches long. When fishing for speckled trout, use live shrimp or small fish as bait, and cast near grass beds, oyster reefs, or other structures where they like to hide. Keep an eye out for diving birds, as they can often indicate schools of speckled trout feeding below the surface.

3. Flounder (Paralichthys spp.)

South Padre Island is home to two species of flounder, the southern flounder, and the Gulf flounder. Both species can be found in shallow waters and sandy bottoms near the island. Flounders are known for their flat bodies and eyes on the same side of their head, allowing them to blend in with the ocean floor and ambush prey. Use live shrimp or small fish as bait and target areas with a mix of sand, grass, and mud to increase your chances of catching flounder.

4. Snook (Centropomus undecimalis)

Snook are a highly prized gamefish found in the mangroves, channels, and backwaters of South Padre Island. Known for their sleek bodies, large mouths, and impressive fighting abilities, snooks can grow up to 48 inches long. When targeting snook, use live shrimps, mullet, or pinfish as bait and fish near structures or vegetation where they like to hide. Be prepared for an exciting fight, as snooks are known to make powerful runs and leaps out of the water when hooked.

5. Black Drum (Pogonias cromis)

Black drum are a close relative of redfish and are another popular inshore species found in South Padre Island. These fish prefer muddy or sandy bottoms and can be found near oyster beds, channels, and jetties. Black drum can grow up to 60 inches long and are known for their dark vertical stripes and “drumming” sound when caught. Use shrimp, crab, or cut bait when targeting black drum, and be prepared for a strong fight on the end of your line.

6. Tarpon (Megalops atlanticus)

Tarpon are iconic gamefish found in the warm waters of South Padre Island. Known for their massive size (up to 8 feet long), silver scales, and acrobatic leaps when hooked, tarpon are a favorite among anglers looking for a challenging and exhilarating catch. When fishing for tarpon, use large live or dead baits like mullet, pinfish , or crabs and fish near channels, inlets, and other areas where they like to feed. Tarpon are catch and release only, so be sure to handle them carefully and release them quickly to ensure their survival.

7. Kingfish (Scomberomorus cavalla)

Kingfish, also known as king mackerel, are a popular offshore species found in the deeper waters around South Padre Island. These fast-swimming fish are known for their toothy grin and can grow up to 72 inches long. When targeting kingfish, use live baitfish like mullet or blue runners and fish near wrecks, artificial reefs, or other areas where they like to hunt. Be prepared for a challenging fight, as kingfish are known for their speed and strength.


South Padre Island is a paradise for anglers of all levels, offering a diverse range of fish species and fishing locations. Whether you’re staying in a luxurious beach house or one of the many affordable beach condos in the area, you can enjoy an unforgettable fishing adventure in this beautiful Texas destination. From redfish to tarpon, kingfish to snook, these top 7 fish are sure to provide a thrilling challenge and a memorable experience. Have fun exploring the waters of South Padre Island!

Looking for an unforgettable South Padre Island vacation experience? Look no further than South Padre Trips! We offer full-service vacation rental management, exciting tours and packaged inclusions and beautiful beachfront accommodations. Whether you’re in need of affordable family beach rentals or beachfront condos for two, we have everything you need to make your stay enjoyable. So, are you ready to take in the stunning views, cast your line, and reel in some amazing fish? Book now and make your vacation a truly unforgettable experience!