The Osprey 1 is fittingly named; it was Osprey Cruises' first and only boat back in 1971, when the company first started. Back then, the 70-foot vessel's main routes were for carrying fishermen and spectators up to 100 miles out into the Gulf of Mexico for fishing trips and wildlife watching. And it does so today, too?it's just ceded some of its star status to the fleet's newer vessels.
And they're a compelling bunch. Take the aptly named The Thriller, a high-speed offshore racer for adrenaline cruises. Or, perhaps even more enticing, The Black Dragon. It's a recreation of a 17th-century Spanish galleon helmed by a crew of costumed pirates, rather than their less-reliable parrots. On pirate cruises, these swashbucklers share pirate stories, send passengers on treasure hunts, and generally introduce them to the grog-and-swordfighting lifestyle. Many trips happen upon schools of dolphins along the way or offer evening jaunts amid captivating sunset views.
For Isla Tours’ owner Captain Stephen Murphy, the Gulf of Mexico is not just the place he has fished and sailed for more than 30 years—it’s an old family friend. In 1961, his grandfather Eddie Murphy founded the boating company and dedicated himself to touring the Gulf’s waters. Since Eddie’s tenure, however, the company has changed substantially. Now operating under the name Isla Tours, its fleet incorporates three boats, which range from a 67-foot double-decker vessel to smaller ones with covered seating. Aboard these vessels, Captain Stephen—who has set multiple state fishing records—leads deep-sea-fishing adventures, sunset cruises, and dolphin-watching tours, during which passengers can glimpse pods of binocular-toting dolphins on people-watching tours.
When Daniel Bryant founded Breakaway Cruises in 1995, the tour company had a fleet of one—a dolphin watch boat, the Xcape. Nowadays, the Xcape is still bringing tourists face-to-face with live dolphins, but it no longer works alone. Gliding behind one of the new parasailing boats, aquatic adventurers rise up to 600 feet above the waves without having to harness a flying fish to each shoe. Meanwhile, fishermen can seek out sand trout, redfish, and speckled trout aboard assorted fishing boats. Jet skis round out the fleet, along with a second dolphin watch boat.
Staff Size: 2?10 people
Average Duration of Services: 2?4 hours
Recommended Age Group: All Ages
Fishing isn't always about chasing fish around lakes, rivers, and seas with your line in the water. Sometimes, it's about waiting for the fish to come to you. Lets Go Fishing CC TX's guides specialize in surf and pier fishing, and they know the right times to hit the shoreline in order to hook the best haul. They lead four-hour excursions during daylight hours, providing rods and bait and unhooking fish from the line when a customer makes a catch. They also conduct a few more specialized sessions, such as midnight pier-fishing excursions to catch sharks or trips from the shore in kayaks to hunt alligator gar, an unusual fish whose long, toothy mouth resembles an alligator's maw and whose tenor resembles Art Garfunkel's.
Perched on the shores of the Laguna Madre on the coast of south Texas, Bluff's Landing Marina and Lodge is a modern fishing and hunting lodge with a full-service marina. You’ll be within walking distance of the marina when you stay in a king or two-doubles room, decorated with rustic lodge items such as mounted deer heads and plaid-upholstered chairs, and you’ll have great views of the nearby ocean. Next door to the marina is Laguna Reef Restaurant, where the house chefs will cook up your day’s catch, or you can nosh on coconut shrimp and fried oysters while looking out over Laguna Madre. There’s free parking, a live bait and tackle shop onsite, and a free boat launch for the naval battleship you’ve been hauling around.
As an avid lover of the outdoors, Marcus Haralson?owner and proprietor of Doc's Fishing Clinic & Guide Service?aims to share his knowledge and passion with each of his clients. Venturing off from one of the many local marinas (depending on wind and weather), Haralson guides fishermen and hunters of all ages through the terrain and waterways of South Texas. With all the provided gear, snacks, and drinks piled into 18-foot poling skiff alongside his clients, Doc's fishing expeditions instill both an appreciation for the local ecosystem as well as knowledge of bait and tackle.