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Port Aransas Deep Sea Fishing
Deep Sea Fishing - Port Aransas, Texas
"There is nothing--absolutely nothing--half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats."
Rat, Wind in the Willows, Kenneth Grahame
Port Aransas provides some world class opportunities to mess about in boats. People come from all around the country and the world for the deep sea fishing, diving, birding and other nature trips, sailing, and kayaking. Whichever way a visitor chooses, they are likely to have fun.
Deep Sea Fishing
From the serious and expert angler looking for a deep sea fishing adventure, families with small children looking to introduce them to the sport of sea fishing, or someone in between, Port Aransas has a guide service to meet that need. Fishing charters can be as short as an hour and a half around the jetties and St. Joseph's Island (St. Joe's) to multi-day trips into the gulf. Charters can be open to the public, meaning that reservations are taken and people share the trip with others besides their friends and family, or they can be private charters, limited to the people invited by the organizer of the charter. Prices vary accordingly.
Deep sea fishing trips by the day are probably the most popular tourist fishing excursions. Day trips last from 8 to 12 hours. Fees are per person and vary according to the duration of the trip and the charter service. These day trips are generally fishing for ling, kingfish, small shark, Spanish mackerel, and dolphin fish aka Mahi-mahi which is no relation to a Dolphin, the mammal. Both private and public fishing trips are available in this class of trip. Outfitters provide fishing gear, bait, and safety equipment within the booking fee. Some outfitters provide on-board concessions and do not allow outside food and beverage, some require customers to provide their own food and drink. The number of people on the trip can vary from only a few, usually a private trip, to up to 50 or more anglers. Some guide services will clean and pack the catch for a fee. Some do not offer cleaning services. Since included services can vary, widely, from guide to guide, it is advisable to ask what is included and what must be provided by the customer when booking a trip. No matter the guide service it is the responsibility of the customer to purchase all licenses and stamps before departing for the trip. Outfitters generally check licenses before leaving the dock to avoid ending up in legal trouble with Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD). Licenses and stamps are sold around Port Aransas and online at the TPWD website.
Because of the popularity of day long deep sea fishing trips into the Gulf or Mexico, this category of excursion has the largest variety of charter services. In fact, there are so many options it would be difficult to name them all.
Overnight trips are another way that people deep sea fish the gulf. Overnight trips range from 24 hours to 56 hours or more. Most overnight trips are booked through a private guide service. Woody's Guides, Deep Sea Headquarters and Dolphin Docks are three companies in Port Aransas that offer overnight deep sea fishing excursions that are open, by reservation, to the public. Trips vary in length from 24 to 56 hours. In addition these companies offer shorter trips starting at 8 hours,
Woody's (1-800-605-5448) Scat Cat offers a 56 hour deep sea fishing trip that is open to the public. Trips are generally scheduled to coincide with the dark of the moon and focus on catching tuna and other large fish. Trips on the Scat Cat host from 18 to 24 people. Customers bring their own licenses, salt water stamps and fishing gear, sleeping bags, pillow and clothing appropriate to the season as well as their own food and beverage. The Scat Cat has 24 bunks, rest room facilities, and simple cooking equipment including a microwave, and a gas barbecue on deck. To hold the fish caught, the Scat Cat has an ice hold on board and cleaning services are available, upon return, at the dock. Cleaning fees are calculated on a per pound basis. In addition to the public trips both the Scat Cat and Wharf Cat are available for private charter.
Deep Sea Headquarters (1-800-705-3474) lists trips from 5 hours to 24 hours. Longer trips can be arranged. Dolphin Docks (1-800-393-3474) advertises trips from 24 to 80 hours aboard the La Pesca. Shorter trips do not provide meals, trips 36 hours and longer do. Customers bring their own sleeping gear and other equipment. Both companies will accept private charters. With both companies, ice holds are available to store the catch. All commercial fishing excursions require that the customer provide their own fishing licenses and salt water stamp.
There are many captains in Port Aransas that offer deep sea fishing trips as private charter services. These trips can be as short as 8 hours or as long as several days. Most of the charters provide tackle and bait. Customers may be expected to bring their own food and drink or in some cases may arrange for meals. Boats available vary in length and degree of luxury so prices vary accordingly. Texas Charter Fleet (1866-893-5338) hosts a website complete with a fishing report blog and links to various boats in the fleet for those looking for more information about private charters in Port Aransas.
For families looking to introduce small children to the challenges and fun of sea fishing, Oso Fun Charters, Captain Bruce Staffle, specializes in this kind of trip. Up to 6 people can book a 3 hour trip that remains within sight of land around St. Joe's and the Jetties. The type of fish that may be caught are Red and Black Drum, Speckled Trout, Channel Cat and possibly shark. Tackle, bait and safety equipment are provided. Customers provide their own fishing licenses and salt water stamp for adults over 17, cooler with beverages and snacks, clothing and sunscreen. Customers clean their own fish. If you don't want to fish, 1.5 or 3 hour charters are available to explore the jetties, the flats near St. Joes and look for dolphins. One price covers all 6 people. Call Oso Fun, 361-739-6600, for current prices. Oso Fun Charters does not book distant trips.
Several other charter services list bay and flats fishing trips on their web sites. Bay fishing will be taking red and black drum, trout to name a few of the popular species. Trips are shorter and because the water is shallower, the fish will be those found in the warm water shallows. People can charter a private fishing trip or reserve a space on a public trip. For those people not interested in fishing, bay trips can explore the flats or look for dolphin and other wildlife. The Port Aransas Chamber of Commerce web site lists some bay fishing services; Coastal Bend Texas lists others.
When selecting a commercial guide, check to insure that they are certified by the Coast Guard. Captains should be licensed captains. Coast Guard licensed captains have had to pass a Coast Guard to test to become licensed. Larger boats should be US Coast Guard inspected although this is not required of smaller boats. All commercial guides are required to obey US Coast Guard regulations that dictate maximum occupancy for the size vessel, how much safety equipment is on board and where and how safety equipment is stored on the boat, among other things. All children under 13 will be required to wear a safety vest according to Texas state law. Check the tag on the vest to make sure the vest is the right size and weight range for the child who is wearing it.
Diving and Spear fishing
In addition to fishing, diving is another popular activity in the Gulf of Mexico. One outfitter that advertises to the deep sea diver is Out to Sea. The Out to Sea web site lists diving, deep sea fishing, spear fishing, education and research support as its focus of service. Out to Sea maintains 2 boats and runs trips to a variety of places in the gulf including the Flower Gardens, a unique marine sanctuary and popular dive spot. More information is available at 361-288-2723.
For those who would prefer another mode of travel, Handsome Sailor (361-790-6668), and Stray Cat Adventures (361-416-0054), offer alternatives to motorized boats. Stray Cat Sailing Adventures offers private sailing charters around the bay or into the gulf. Charters can be a few hours to as long as overnight.. Handsome Sailor Yacht Charters offers Dolphin Trips, Sunset Cruises, Booze Cruises (bring your own) and other charter adventures on their sailing catamaran. A sailing charter is a casual, relaxed way to explore the environment around Port Aransas
The area around Port Aransas boasts numerous kayaking trails that take paddlers off the beaten path into the shallows for fishing or wildlife watching. Coastal Bend Kayak offers guided fishing and nature tours as well as rentals. The kayaks are all “sit upon” kayaks that were developed for use in the area. These boats are popular because they are very stable and because they are not enclosed, are less intimidating to novice kayakers who are often worried about being able to escape from the boat if it tips. Kayaking is a quiet, easy way to explore the shallow waters around the area. Trips can be short, 1.5 hours or as long as a day, depending on the customer's skill and stamina.
Many people like to get out on the water on their own and take advantage of the many kayak trails along the coast. Kayak trails take people into the mangrove flats and into the unique habitats where people see a variety of birds, fish, turtles and other wildlife. The kayaking trails closest to Port Aransas include Lighthouse Lakes Trail, and the Mustang Island Loop. Lighthouse Lakes trail was the first kayak trail designated in the state. More information about the trails is available at the TPWD website. In addition, kayaking outfitters in the area would have trail maps available for sale at the time of kayak rentals.
There are so many ways to mess about on boats in Port Aransas, from deep sea fishing to quiet kayak excursions that there is something for everyone.
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