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Jennifer Merchant's Favorites for Spring Fishing

Salt Life team member Jen Merchant is a surf fishing guide based in Corpus Christi, Texas, and as usual, she has been doing lots of fishing lately! In fact, Jen recently became the first woman to get licensed to guide on the Padre Island National Seashore. Spring is Jen’s favorite time to hit the water, and we caught up with her to hear about her favorite species to target when the weather starts warming up. 


Sheepshead start hitting the jetties in late March and early April, when the bait runs through the area. To catch sheepshead, your best bet is to use live bait. Jen uses live shrimp and a heavy leader—too light, and their sharp, human-like teeth will cut the line. Sheepshead are a popular species to target, so be sure to check the local regulations wherever you’re fishing. In Texas, the bag limit is five per person with a 15” minimum. If you haven’t yet tried Jen’s sheepshead ceviche, this spring is the perfect time!

Redfish (Red Drum)

The Gulf Coast sees an influx of redfish in the spring. You can target them in marshy areas and mangrove islands or, as Jen prefers, from the surf. Use live bait that matches whatever the fish are feeding on—in the spring, you’ll likely have good luck with mullet, greenies, pogies, or pilchards. Redfish are regulated in most fisheries across the United States, so be sure to check local regulations. In Texas, redfish must be between 20 and 28 inches in length with a three-per-person bag limit.



Bluer and calmer spring weather makes it easier to catch trout closer to the shoreline than other times of year. They’re a shallow species and, if you prefer live bait, use either live shrimp or pin perch. Jen likes to keep it simple and lure trout with a silver spoon. Be sure to stock up on the ingredients for Jen’s super simple trout tacos recipe

Jack Crevalle 

Jack Crevalle are the toughest fighting fish on the Gulf Coast. They’re very strong and are a super fun species to catch. Jen’s first jack was almost 50 inches long, and when she hooked into it—by complete accident—she thought she’d caught a shark! To target these guys, look for bait balls. In terms of tackle, a 1 ½ to 2 oz silver spoon works beautifully. But if they’re in a feeding frenzy, they’ll take anything. Be sure to use at least a 10 or 12 foot pole to swing the bait out. Another great reason to target crevalle jacks is that there are no bag or size limits!


Shark Fishing

The end of spring—in late April or May— is when the hammerheads roll in. They’re the first to come in, chasing the jacks. Of course, you can’t catch sharks without some serious tackle—and expertise! Get in touch with an experienced guide like Jen to get started with shark fishing.

Ready for Spring Fishing?

As the weather warms up and springtime brings these fun (and delicious) species through the Gulf, you’ll be prepared with these tips and tricks—as always, head to the shoreline knowing what your target species is eating and use live bait whenever possible. If you’re heading to Texas, you can plan a fishing trip with Jen through her website, Follow Jen on Instagram @jenmerchant to keep up with her fishing adventures!


Be prepared for the spring weather with performance gear that can withstand wind and sun. Jen recommends Salt Life’s long sleeve sun-protective shirt to layer over a swimsuit. Shop the Salt Life store today to stock up on spring essentials.