Dodging Drug Deals and Soft Sand to Chase Texas Snook
By Jeff Herman
Mexico is just a few miles south as the sun gets ready to shake open another day. Driving down the empty beach I can see headlights from an old white pick-up pointing towards the sand dunes. The tail-lights of a second car peek out from behind the truck. It’s high tide and our own 4-wheel drive will be challenged to get around these guys. Towards the dunes will be soft, sand-trap powder. The other way around will put us into the water‘s edge and the unknown.
There are no other cars for miles. As we inch closer – still considering our options – a sense of danger builds. There’s no way these guys are early morning fisherman. We are pretty sure we have just driven into a drug deal. Tension, uncertainty, adrenaline. Turning our Tacoma (aka “the Taco”) around would be too difficult because of the high tide. We hope for hard pack, accelerate and steer towards the lapping surf.
We make it. Smiling, I take a swig of black coffee and exhale the words “South Bay”.
South Bay is aptly named as it is the southernmost bay in Texas. It basically borders Mexico and if you want to fish for snook, it is one of the best spots in the state. Getting there isn’t easy. Don’t let the bay’s proximity to Boca Chica State Park fool you. This “State Park” is just 100% unimproved land which makes for a bumpy ride and the occasional nod to some shady characters.
The reality is Boca Chica is remote. You need 4-wheel drive whether you access it by the beach or the bay side. The other option is to paddle across from Dolphin Cove on Padre Island like local fisherman Carlos Villarreal prefers. Carlos’ hot areas for reds, trout, and snook are Horseshoe Bend and the south shoreline. He likes to fish these spots with purple and chartreuse soft plastics like the Kelly Wiggler, or using topwaters he goes with the old Texas standby of a bone Super Spook.
“Snook fishing for me has been better in the last few years,” says Carlos. “I have some great catches and hopefully with a moderate winter we’ll have an even better snook population.”
Gorgeous black mangroves, grass, and clear water make for one of the most beautiful bays in Texas. That it is ripe with snook increases the allure. Snook, robalo, line siders, or whatever you call them, they have the power of a red combined with the head shake, and Houdini moves of big specks. They really are one of the best fish to chase.
If you head to the Rio Grande Valley bring your sense of adventure. You’ll have a long paddle if you head out from Padre. If you have a 4×4 and some locals who know the way, try Boca Chica. Either way, the crazy and charisma of South Bay snook fishing will have you coming back for more.