Fishing in Arroyo City, Texas

Fly-fisherman standing in river, holding speckled trout
David J. Sams/The Image Bank/Getty Images

Nestled along the shores of the Arroyo Colorado River in Deep South Texas, Arroyo City isn’t so much a city as it is a collection of fishing shacks and RV parks. However, despite being somewhat underwhelming in the metropolitan sense, this oft-overlooked Gulf Coast outpost offers plenty of angling options for saltwater fishermen looking for something ‘a little different.’

A Fishing Destination

Located less than 10 miles upstream of the shallow, clear flats of the Lower Laguna Madre, Arroyo City is an excellent launching point for flats fishermen. However, it is the river itself that offers light tackle anglers and fly fishermen a bit of subtropical angling with a twist.

Throughout the year, the confines of the Arroyo Colorado hold catchable numbers of speckled trout (spotted seatrout), redfish, and flounder. However, these fish are found in denser concentrations during the extreme weather portions of the year – summer and winter. During times of very high or low mercury, schools of fish seek to escape the Laguna’s shallows and take shelter in the relative protection of the Arroyo’s depths. It is at times like these when anglers can score big by working along the river's edges.

Light tackle anglers can do well with soft-plastic jigs, while fly fishermen can draw strikes by throwing sinking flies on intermediate or sinking fly lines along the river’s banks.

However, having fishable numbers of Texas’ ‘Big 3’ saltwater game fish isn’t really that unique. What is different is the number of snook and juvenile tarpon that have been calling the Arroyo home for the past several years.

Like speckled trout and redfish, snook are found in the river throughout the year but found in larger numbers during summer and winter. These fish will typically be found near a shoreside structure, whether it be boat docks or tree limbs. Since snook typically must be coaxed from heavy cover, fly fishers are best served by erring on the high side when it comes to rod selection. Conventional tackle anglers should use a medium-heavy rod at the lightest. The best choice of fly rods is usually something in the 9- to 10-weight range.

Another fish requiring heavier tackle is the tarpon. Although South Padre to the south and Port Mansfield to the north boast Gulf passes and schools of super-size tarpon, neither of those locations have developed as consistent of a year-around tarpon fishery as Arroyo City. There are tarpon available in the river 12 months a year. Again, some of the best fishing takes place during the winter.

All of the fish inhabiting the Arroyo will readily take a variety of baitfish and shrimp imitating lures and fly patterns. Conventional tackle anglers should use 1/8 to 1/4 ounce lures. For fly rodders, flies tied on size 2 through 4 hooks are the most versatile. And, although poppers can produce at times, most of this fishing will be subsurface, where an intermediate line is a better choice than a floater. During periods of extreme cold, a faster sinking line is an even better option.

Getting to Arroyo City

Getting to Arroyo City can be a bit of a challenge, but no more so than any other secluded fishing spot. The simplest means of getting to Arroyo City is to arrive in Harlingen, Texas via plane or vehicle, then take FM 2925 east approximately 10 miles.

Lodging options are limited. However, Arroyo Lodge operates a full-service fishing lodge. Anglers also have the option of renting one of the many cabins available through private owners and hiring a guide such as Capt. Richard Weldon (956.245.0147). Those who wish to camp, either tent or RV, should contact Adolph-Thomae County Park (956) 748-2044, which offers a boat ramp, lighted fishing piers, tent sites and RV hookups.