The South Bay Paddling Trail follows the shores of South Bay in a loop of about eight miles. This shallow, subtropical body of water consists of approximately 3,500 surface acres, bounded on the south by the riparian edge of the Rio Grande, on the north by the Brownsville Ship Channel and associated spoil banks, and on the east by Brazos Island. It is located south of South Padre Island.
Fishing in South Bay is outstanding, with spring, summer and fall providing the greatest diversity and abundance of fish. Anglers can expect to find redfish, trout and flounder here. Common snook and fat snook are routinely caught in South Bay’s shallow waters, as are jack crevalle, gray snapper and ladyfish.
The Grass Flats in the southeast corner of the bay can be good for trout and redfish. Another popular spot is the Table Top, which is a shallow area on the west side that can be good for tailing redfish in the summer.
South Bay and its wind-tidal flats, shallow depths, associated vegetation and unique location provides excellent feeding, resting and wintering habitat for numerous types of migratory bird species, such as White Pelicans, Brown Pelicans, Cormorants, Gadwalls, Green-winged Teals and Redheads. A variety of shorebirds and wading birds may be seen year-round, and the extensive black mangrove stands are an important nesting area for roseate spoonbills.
South Bay is encircled by the Lower Rio Grande Valley Wildlife Refuge, which is known to support a population of rare Texas ocelots. Coyotes, bobcats, armadillos, raccoons and other small mammals are common on the shores of the bay.
The launch site for this trail is at the South Bay Kayak Launch. This site is reached by driving east from Brownsville on State Hwy 4 all the way to the beach. Drive north on the beach to the jetties and then turn left.
There are two alternative launch sites. The closest is Isla Blanca Park in South Padre Island. This launch will require a paddle of about two miles across the Laguna Madre and the Ship Channel to reach South Bay. Another alternative is South Point Marina in Port Isabel. This launch will require a paddle of about three miles to reach South Bay.
Download a GPX file of the South Bay Trail marker coordinates that is compatible with many GPS units and software applications such as Google Earth.
More information on fishing around South Padre Island and Port Isabel.