Fishing the Texas Rigs

Head deep into the Gulf from south coastal Texas for great offshore action.
Steve Dougherty
Not many associate Texas with big-game sport fishing, but south coastal Texas offers offshore anglers a perfect gateway to the Gulf of Mexico's best deep sea fishing. With nearshore and offshore oil rigs providing what is arguably the greatest network of artificial reefs in the world, anglers can target blue and white marlin, bluefin, bigeye, yellowfin and blackfin tuna, dolphin, wahoo and swordfish.
Surfside, Texas, is located about an hour from Houston and is just outside Freeport in the shadow of Dow Chemical and a booming energy industry.
The filled-to-capacity dry stack boat storage at Surfside Marina proves that the Gulf Coast is open for business.
When heading offshore, the first stop is usually around a nearshore rig to make bait. Hardtails, also known as blue runner, hold tight to platform legs and it usually doesn't take long to fill the livewell. While live baits aren't always necessary in the Gulf, it's always nice to have a few available for an alternate presentation.
Heading deeper offshore, anglers often intercept convergence zones with massive weedlines and current breaks stretching for miles. Trolling ballyhoo and pitching live baits will entice trophy wahoo and dolphin.
Most crews target deep-water oil rigs more than 200 miles offshore, but there are a lot of distractions along the way. Depending on the season, shrimp boats will be the next stop for insane action from ling, blackfin tuna, bonito and sharks.
The game fish hanging around shrimp boats are so frenzied over free handouts that you can literally choose the fish you want to catch.
In Florida, bonito are a prized bait, but in the Gulf many anglers prefer blackfin chunks when targeting yellowfin tuna around offshore rigs. Once you've had enough fun at the shrimp boats and caught some blackfin for chunking, it is time to continue offshore.
From  southern Texas east to Venice, Louisiana, there are thousands of deep sea oil platforms dotting the otherwise desolate seafloor. Some are permanent rigs attached to the bottom in shallow water and others are floaters tethered at depths over 3,000 feet along the continental shelf. The rigs pictured here, Auger (background) and Noble (foreground) are more than 200 miles offshore in approximately 2,800 feet of water.
Most crews troll around the rigs until nightfall when chunking becomes the preferred method of approach.
When covering so many miles of open Gulf, many make overnight trips to the deepwater rigs, and it's always nice to return home to Surfside Marina. While Texas is in the shadow of more glamorous big-game destinations, the Gulf of Mexico is seriously holding.

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