BROWNSVILLE, Texas (ValleyCentral) — If you want to catch a tropical snook in Texas, the Lower Laguna Madre is the place to go, and while anglers are potentially able to snag one anywhere in the bay, the prime locale is the bustling Port of Brownsville.
On this wintry day, Eric Sepulveda is hooking up on just about every cast at one of his favorite spots in the Port.
“We have a really good population of snook, I love fishing for snook,” said Sepulveda.
While common in the estuaries of Mexico and Central America, the tropical snook barely edges into Texas. Sleek and strong, shimmering with a silvery green hue, they sport a distinctive black lateral stripe that runs from just behind the gills to the tail.
They grow upwards of four feet, and the state record is a 57-and-a-half-pounder caught in 1937 by Louis Rawalt in the surf off Padre Island.
While snook appear to be currently thriving in South Texas waters, their numbers pale in comparison to the huge commercial catches of yesteryear. In 1929 commercial landing of snook in Port Isabel exceeded 200,000 pounds.
It was not until 1987 that snook finally received game fish status and in 1996 strict regulations went into effect limiting anglers to one snook per person per day with a slot limit size between 24 and 28 inches.
“I don’t kill any snook. I preach that to clients that I have and anybody else that I know, to keep this fishery going and healthy,” said Sepulveda.
Fishing at the Port of Brownsville is a privilege and is subject to restrictions. Bank fishing is not allowed, and boats must steer clear of commercial traffic and are not allowed to tie off.
“I think we are very lucky to have this port,” added Sepulveda.
As the Port of Brownsville continues its rapid expansion, including current site work on a proposed Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) terminal, the hope among anglers is that the waterway will remain unpolluted and open to fishing.