Fishing in Galveston
"Roll the Dice"
Several years ago, we decided to take a fishing trip to Galveston on the Texas Coast.
In preparation for the trip, we researched online and learned about two piers - Galveston Fishing Pier and the 61st Street Fishing Pier.
Both piers were damaged by Hurricane Ike in 2008 and had re-opened; however, our online search for information resulted in more questions than answers.
By chance, we searched YouTube and found videos showing sharks and bull red fish being caught from the piers in years past. These videos convinced us to "roll the dice" and make the five hour drive from Dallas-Fort Worth to Galveston.
As it turned out, the dice rolled our way, and we had a great time catching saltwater fish like little Sharks, Gaff-topsail, and Spanish Mackerel (see video below of the action during that trip).
We continue to make trips to Galveston, trying different places each time. And, although we are still learning about fishing in the area, we have less questions compared to that first trip.
In the interest of helping other fishermen, we publish this article with the intent to provide lessons we learned and other useful information when fishing in Galveston.
Good luck and good fishing!
Where We Fished...
The map above and the list below are places we have fished in Galveston:
- Galveston Fishing Pier
- 61st Street Fishing Pier
- Seawolf Park Pier
- Galveston Jetties ("Finger Jetties")
- Offat's Bayou - Lee and Joe Jamail Bay Park
- Surfside Jetty Park (not in Galveston)
There is one in the list that is not in Galveston. We included it because the fishing looked promising, and we plan to return on future trips.
Fishermen can fish Galveston by chartering a boat or they can use their own boat or kayak. We opted to fish from land, fishing from piers, jetties, and beaches.
For more details on the places we fished in Galveston, do read on!
1. Galveston Fishing Pier
Galveston Fishing Pier
Galveston Fishing Pier has been a landmark of the Texas Upper Coast since the early 70's.
Although severely damaged by Hurricane Ike in 2008, it partially re-opened in 2010. That is, the T-Head section remained closed but the pier was open for fishing.
Later in 2015, the T-Head section was rebuilt and the pier could be fished in its entirety! (see Google's time lapse photos of the rebuild below).
- Adult Day Pass - $12.00
- Senior Day Pass 65+ (Must show ID) - $8.00
- Veteran/Military Day Pass (Must show ID) - $8.00
- Kids Day Pass Under 12 - $6.00
Pier Pass is valid from 5AM to 5AM. Do check with the pier as prices may change without notice.
See the "Galveston Fishing Pier Rules" in the sidebar.
- Rules are subject to change without notice.
- Be sure to confirm the latest rules by checking their website.
- And/or contacting them directly.
LESSONS LEARNED - SPECIFIC TO GALVESTON FISHING PIER
- Start fishing just after 5AM. Pier passes expire at 5AM each morning regardless of when the pass was purchased. For the hardcore fishermen, starting at 5AM enables fishing all day and well into the night.
- Credit/Debit cards are accepted. So, a trip to the ATM is not necessary, but would keep some cash on hand in case you leave the pier and shop at a place that does not take them.
- Frozen bait can be purchased at the pier but it's better to purchase fresh bait or live bait from one of the local bait shops in the area.
- The pier is over 1,000 feet long but fish will be biting at different times anywhere along its length. Be prepared to move to where the fish are active.
Time Lapse PhotosClick thumbnail to view full-size
2. 61st St. Fishing Pier
61st Street Fishing Pier
Just up the road from the Galveston Fishing Pier along Seawall Drive is the the 61st Street Fishing Pier.
Completely destroyed by Hurricane Ike, the 61st Street Fishing Pier was re-opened once again in 2010 (see sidebar for video of the fishing action back in August 2014).
It offers an excellent opportunity to catch a "Bruiser" fish or two with large sharks and rays frequently being caught by pier fishermen!
- Adults - $10
- Child(10 and under) - $6
- Toddlers - $1
- Seniors(M-Th 6AM-5PM) - $1
A wristband is issued and is valid from the time it was purchased to 6am. The pier is open 24/7 from March until December; however, hours will vary with the weather during the winter (Dec, Jan, Feb).
Adult rates decrease late at night per the schedule below:
- After 2AM - 1/2 price
- After 4AM - $2
- After 5AM - $1
- After 6AM, full admission price will be charged for anyone staying on the pier.
Do check with the pier as prices may change without notice.
- Two rod per person limit
- 10ft maximum length per rod.
- Fishing licenses are required by TPWD law (for anyone over 17). The pier does not sell fishing licenses.
- No glass containers.
- Alcohol must be purchased at the pier.
- No pets (service animals only).
- No sleeping on the deck.
- Those who choose to drink too much or act up will be asked to leave.
- Carts are allowed as long as they are shorter than 3'6". If you bring an oversize cart, you will be asked that you unload your cart where you plan to fish and then bring the cart back to be stored out of the way.
LESSONS LEARNED - SPECIFIC TO 61ST FISHING PIER
- Be sure to bring cash as credit/debit cards are not accepted. There is an ATM on the pier.
- Start fishing just after 6AM. Pier passes expire at 6AM each morning regardless of when the pass was purchased. For the hardcore fishermen, starting at 6AM enables fishing all day and well into the night.
- Purchase a fishing license prior to arriving at the pier; there is a Walmart and an Academy in Galveston that sell fishing licenses.
- When targeting Sharks and Bull Reds, fish the T-Head - specifically, the Surf Rod Zone at the T-Head's ends. Pay attention to the direction of the current and if able, cast into the current if possible. If the pier is crowded, then cast perpendicular to the pier and use enough weight to hold your rig in place.
- When determining the appropriate amount of weight to keep your rig in place, start with a 2oz weight. If it comes loose and your rig starts to drift with the current or waves pull it loose, increase the weight in 1oz increments until it holds.
- Use Spider Weights if able. Else, use Pyramid Sinkers as the area has a sandy bottom.
- When targeting Speckled Trout and Sand Trout, fish after sunset and work the area around the Pier's Store and Bait Shop - specifically, under the lights. Also, use a popping cork and live shrimp with light wire hooks.
- Using a medium action spinning rod and a simple bottom rig with size 2 hooks baited with bits of shrimp, fish the area immediately near the pier and pier pilings for croaker, whiting, and perch. Then, use them as cut bait for Sharks and bigger fish!
- When schools of mullet appear in the area, Sharks tend to follow the school and start feeding on mullet. Try using live fingerling mullet either free-lined or under a float to work the Sharks in the upper part of the water column. Then, bait a bottom rig on your second rod with a live fingerling mullet or mullet cut-bait to work the Sharks in the lower part of the water column.
- When Sargassum Seaweed starts to "clobber" the area, be prepared to reel your line in and clear your rig. If you allow the seaweed to foul your line, your rig will break loose and soon foul other fishermen's lines.
- If over 21 and you like beer and need ice for your ice chest, buy the bucket of beer at the pier store instead of a bag of ice. The bucket used for the pier is a bag filled with ice and your beer.
- Pay for parking along the Seawall when you pay for your pier fees. Provide your car's license plate number and pay for the hours you plan to park between 10AM and 6PM.
August 2014 Fishing Trip
3. Seawolf Park Pier
Seawolf Park Pier
100 Seawolf Park Blvd
Galveston, TX 77550
Located within Seawolf Park is a pier that offers an excellent opportunity for saltwater fish for the land-based fisherman.
The park is a venue to see up close vintage WWII submarine the USS Cavalla and the destroyer escort USS Stewart.
Located on Galveston’s Pelican Island, the park has picnic sites, a playground, and bank fishing access to the bay as well as a boardwalk that offers fishing access to the shipping channel.
The park is open year-round from dawn to dusk, and fishing is 24 hrs 7 days a week!
To fish Seawolf Park, you will pay for parking and a fishing pass. If you want to tour the submarine and destroyer escort, additional fees apply.
Parking (One Time Entry Per Vehicle with Paid Entry):
- $6 per car
- $10 per tour bus/RV
- $5 per school bus
- Adults (12-64) Galveston Island Residents: $6.00, Non-Residents: $9.00
- Seniors (65+) Galveston Island Residents: $3.00, Non-Residents: $4.00
- Children (5 -11) Galveston Island Residents: $3.00 Non-Residents: $4.00
- Children (4 and younger): Free
- Fishing Season Pass (Jan.1 - Sep 30) Adults $250. Seniors/Children $150
- Glass Prohibited
- Alcohol Permitted
- Pets Permitted on Leashes Excluding Military Displays
- Clean Up After Your Pets
- Camping Prohibited (RV’s must exit park prior to 9PM)
- Open Fires Prohibited (BBQ pits allowed ) No picnicking or fires after dark
- Tents Prohibited
- New Daily Fishing Bands Must be Purchased by 6AM When Fishing Overnight
- After dark, all park visitors must purchase a fishing band, fishing or not.
LESSONS LEARNED - SPECIFIC TO SEAWOLF PARK
- Bring a cast net and catch live bait. The park has excellent bank access to the bay and offers wade fishing, making for ease of casting a net for bait fish!
- There is a well maintained cleaning station on the pier. Bring your fillet knife and plan to clean and ice down your catch at the end of your fishing trip.
- Croaker and Piggy Perch are readily caught near the pier as well as Sheepshead. Rig. Use bits of shrimp, squid, or Fish Bites baited on size 2 hooks on a simple Two Dropper Rig (see picture below).
- Spade Fish tend to the upper part of the water column at times. Try a popping cork rig and bait with fresh shrimp, Fish Bites, or better yet live shrimp! Be prepared for larger fish like Spanish Mackerel and Speckle Trout to bite, too.
- For Atlantic Sharpnose and Blacktip, try live croaker, mullet, and/or whiting. If you do not have live bait, then try fresh cut bait of the same - croaker, mullet, or whiting.
- There are no return entries, so once you leave the park another fishing pass will be required. Be sure to have all bait, tackle, food, drinks before entering the park.
- After dark, fishing from the rocks is not allowed. Fishing is limited to the pier and the boardwalk. Signs are posted reminding fishermen of this as well as the existence of rattle snakes in the park. Do be mindful of this rule.
4. Galveston Jetties ("Finger Jetties")
Galveston Jetties ("Finger Jetties")
Along Seawall Blvd
Starting at 14th Street, ending at 61st Street
Not to be confused with the Galveston Jetties that run along the Houston Ship Channel are fifteen jetties or better yet "finger jetties" between 10th Street and 61st Street in Galveston.
As you drive Seawall Boulevard, you will notice granite rocks that form outcroppings perpendicular to the beach. They offer an excellent opportunity for fishing given the right tide. But, do plan to lose tackle as the rocks will snag you rig.
Speckle Trout and Red Fish can be caught, as well as the occasional shark (see video in the sidebar). Moreover, Whiting, Croaker, and the ever present "Piggy Perch" always make for a fun fight on light tackle.
Also, when fishing the finger jetties do step lightly and be careful navigating the rocks as they get slippery and the waves can get large at times. Pay close attention to current conditions and changes in the forecast.
FAQS OF INTEREST
Specific rules for beaches in Galveston can be found on the Galveston Beach Patrol website. In particular, is there Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) found at texasbeachsafety.org/contact-us/faq.
Three FAQs that may be of interest to fishermen relate to kayaks and canoes, their use, and fishing (see below).
LESSONS LEARNED - SPECIFIC TO FINGER JETTIES
- Pay attention to the tide tables and plan to fish an incoming tide. The rising water will flood areas where small crabs and other marine life have been hiding. Soon after, larger predator fish will seek them and start feeding.
- Use a "breakaway line" to attach your sinker to your rig when fishing with bait. A "breakaway line" uses a lighter pound test line attached to the mainline and then the weight is tied to the lighter pound test. If the sinker snags, a steady pull on the mainline will break the lighter pound test line. The sinker will be lost but the rest of your rig will remain intact and another "breakaway line" can be used to attach another sinker (see the picture "Breakaway Line" below).
- Bring extra tackle as you will lose gear to snags. We like to bring extra sinkers and hooks when bait fishing. When fishing with lures, we like to have at least two of each lure with four being the number of choice for lures that tend to get bit more often than others.
- That said, when you arrive at the beach, look in your tackle box and find the "Lone Wolf McQuade" lure, meaning you only have one of that lure and no back up if is lost. Then, fish like normal. If you are not catching fish and you have tried all other lures, fish the "Lone Wolf McQuade" lure. You will likely start catching fish but lose the lure. After losing the lure, you will find local tackle shops don't have it or are sold out. At that point, try live bait under a Popper Rig!
5. Offat's Bayou - Lee and Joe Jamail Bay Park
Offat's Bayou - Lee and Joe Jamail Bay Park
1600 61st Street
Galveston, TX 77551
Lee and Joe Jamail Bay Park opened December 2016. It was a restoration effort of the previously named Washington Park that was severely damaged by Hurricane Ike.
The park is located on 61st Street just a short distance from Interstate 45.
- As you make the turn on to 61st Street heading toward Seawall Boulevard, keep looking for the park on your right.
- When you near a bridge that crosses over Offat's Bayou, look for the Park's entrance.
If you pass the Valero Convenience Store and a Bait and Tackle Store on your right, you have gone too far. However, don't turn around right away.
Instead, stop at the Valero for ice, drinks, and snacks, and then got to the Bait and Tackle Store for pint (or a quart) of live shrimp!
For more on Lee and Joe Jamail Bay Park check out the video below!
LESSONS LEARNED - SPECIFIC TO LEE AND JOE JAMAIL BAY PARK
- The park is well lighted, has ample parking, and a roomy fishing area that reminds us of a boardwalk instead of a fishing pier. It also has restrooms and a bridge walkway that leads to the boat ramp area.
- We fished it well after dark and timed our fishing to start the hour before an incoming tide. This allowed us to get setup with our chairs and rig up our fishing rods and have our lines in the water as the tide started rising.
- We opted to use live shrimp under popping corks, and then concentrated our efforts where the fish were moving in and out of the lighted areas.
- We tended to catch a lot of needle fish but did have the occasional Speckle Trout strike. Sand Trout and some Red Fish were also caught but by others using a similar set up as we were using.
- Popping corks were the mainstay of our fishing technique. Moreover, we used fast action rods with a stiffness that allowed for the sharp, sweeping motion to "pop" the corks and simulate feeding fish!
- Also, by the bridge walkway, we could see fish moving through the area darting back and forth from the deeper channel running under the bridge to the shallower area near the "boardwalk".
- Do bring a crab dip net as we saw a number of nice sized crabs swimming well within a "netting" range. Others were using hand lines and setting chicken necks to bait the crabs. In either case, if we had a net, a dozen or more Blue Crab could have been had while we fished with our popping corks!
- Park is open 24 hours and is free!
Popular style popping cork that works well fishing live shrimp as well as mullet and croaker under the lights for Speckle Trout, Sand Trout and Red Fish!
6. Surfside Jetty Park
Surfside Jetty Park
101 Parkview Rd Surfside Beach, TX 77541 979-864-1541
Our intent was to fish Galveston's fishing piers, but we had an extra day to explore other areas.
We decided to try Surfside Beach for two reasons:
- We saw YouTube videos that piqued our interest as it looked like the fishing would be good in the area.
- We wanted to get a bite for dinner, and had passed restaurants in Alvin and Freeport. So, we kept on going and ended up at Surfside Beach!
While having a bite at Sharkies, we asked our server a good place to fish. She recommended several locations including the Surfside Jetty Park.
With a nod and a bite of a burger, we agreed to fish Surfside Jetty Park...
- It was just down the road from the restaurant, so no long drive after filling ourselves with Sharkies "Black and Blue Burger" with French Fries and Gator Kickers!
- And, we were already infected with the "beach atmosphere" - no worries, no hurries, and if the line is baited and the fish bite occasionally, it's all good!
LESSONS LEARNED - SPECIFIC TO SURFSIDE JETTY PARK
- There are no lights on the jetty. Plan to bring a light source if you plan to fish at night.
- Like most jetties with shipping channels, there is a calmer side that tends to the more protected shipping channel, and there is the seaward side that changes as weather and surf conditions dictate.
- Plan to fish both the channel and seaward sides of the jetty, making the appropriate adjustments in tackle.
- When we start fishing a jetty, we test the waters and fish bottom-rigs, lures, and popping corks. Once we determine which is producing, we will switch out rigs on our fishing rods and fish in that manner until the bite quits.
- There are restrooms, a playground, volleyball sand courts, and picnic tables. Do plan to see lots of non-fishermen as a result and pay close attention to them especially when casting your rod overhead.
- Access to the beach is readily available with a good opportunity to wade fish in the surf at times.
- Park is open 24 hours and is free!
PS: See the action on our trip to Surfside Jetty Park back in June 2017 below.
Other Suggestions When Fishing in Galveston
Bring two poles. A medium-heavy pole for larger fish and a medium pole for casting lures when fish are actively feeding near the surface on bait fish!
Include spider weights and/or pyramid lead weights in 2oz – 6oz in your tackle box. Strong current and waves may require adjusting weights as conditions change.
Use the right size hook for the species being sought with Size 2/0 J Hook or a 4/0 Circle Hook being a good starting point, but be prepared to go higher based on what is biting.
Suggested dead baits include Mullet, Shrimp, and Squid which are readily purchased from the Pier’s store.
If able, bring live bait such as Mullet and Shrimp; be sure to bring a means to keep them well aerated in a bucket/live well. And, use a little minnow net to catch them when baiting up, else risk contaminating the water with chemicals from your sunscreen.
Lures to bring include Jigs, Spoons, and Bait Casting Lures such as Mirrolures and Bombers that simulate bait fish (Mullet and Cigar Minnows)
Bring a chair, ice chest, drinks, and food. Have something to haul your gear like a wagon or dolly. The piers and jetties are long at times and can make for a tough time carrying bulky/heavy equipment.
Bring a Hoop Net. Piers are well over 10 feet from the water’s surface. Don’t lose that Bruiser after a long fight while trying to lift up to the pier.
Be ready to move the length of the pier/pier depending on the fish activity – closer to the surf or towards the seaward end.
Bring a flashlight or electric lantern. Some piers are well lighted but can get crowded. Lighted areas may be taken. Having a light source makes a difference when retying knots and working with your gear at night (Remember: Most piers prohibit gas lanterns).
Paid parking along the Seawall is required between the hours of 10AM and 6PM. There are no meters to put coins in; you pay by a phone app or at a designated location like the 61st Fishing Pier store.
SEAWALL PAID PARKING
When parking along the Seawall, the following applies:
- Fee: $1 / hour, not to exceed $8 / day, yearly passes available*
- Operation: 10 AM – 6 PM, 7 days a week, 365 days per year
- Payment Options: www.paybyphone.com or call 1-866-234-7275 or call 409-797-5198
Paid parking areas will include the north and south sides of Seawall Boulevard from 6th to 69th Street and 81st to 103rd Street. The area between 69th and 81st Street will be free of charge.
For more details, check the city of Galveston website - Seawall Paid Parking.
If you don't want to use the phone app to pay for parking, you can pay with cash at the 61st Street Fishing Pier store.
Provide your car's license plate number and pay the fee for the number of hours you plan to park, and you will be covered.
Be sure to review the latest fishing regulations and pay close attention to the shark regulations as a legal shark may have a minimum length of 24" while others must be 64" or greater!
Readers should review the latest fishing regulations posted on Texas Parks and Wildlife Department's website or review their Outdoor Annual published annually.
For anyone planning to fish in Galveston, pay close attention to the Saltwater Regulations such as daily bag, possession, and size limits when fishing coastal waters.
For more, go to TPWD's Saltwater Fishing - Fishing Regulations.
FYI... Shark Regulations
Where we plan to fish next time... our wish list and/or check list!
Wish List for Next Time
Below is a list of places where we would like to fish in and/or near Galveston. We hope to check them off in the future, and plan to update this article accordingly.
Places to fish next time:
- Texas City Dike
- Jamaica Beach
- Quintana Beach
- Galveston State Park
- Surfside Beach
- Bolivar Island
Note: Prices and rules may change without notice. We provided contact info so readers can contact the appropriate Point of Contact and get the latest information, prices, and rules when planning a trip.