Day Trips: Port Mansfield

Tiny village on the Texas coast in South Texas is a fisherman's paradise

Photos by Gerald McLeod

Port Mansfield is a fisherman's fishing village. Perched on the Texas coast east of Raymondville in deep South Texas, this is a place you go to, not a place you pass through on the way to someplace else.

For generations the shallow waters at this part of Redfish Bay off the Laguna Madre was called Redfish Landing. As part of the sprawling King Ranch, it was a not-so-secret saltwater fishing hole protected by its inaccessibility.

The estate of Richard King's widow donated 197 acres around the bay to the American Legion of Willacy County for a park in 1933 and a 24-mile dirt road was soon built from Raymondville to the water's edge.

Then came Charles Johnson, a real estate developer and county judge who thought the county needed a port. Charlie pushed through the creation of the Willacy County Navigation District in 1948.

Tapping into state and federal funds, the District took control of the American Legion park and turned it into Port Mansfield, named for a state senator from Columbus, Texas. The commercial fishing and shipping businesses floundered, and a deep-water port never materialized despite access to the Gulf.

Port Mansfield became a fisherman's paradise. There is a small-craft harbor, fishing piers, fishing guides, vacation rental properties, and 222 permanent residents. Of the town's four restaurants, try Pelican's Cove Bar & Grill, the only one with a deck on the water.

1,295th in a series. Collect them all. Day Trips, Vol. 2, a book of "Day Trips," is available for $8.95, plus $3.05 for shipping, handling, and tax. Mail to: Day Trips, PO Box 40312, South Austin, TX 78704.

Follow "Day Trips & Beyond," a weekly travel blog, at

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for almost 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

More Day Trips
Day Trips: The Power Plant Texas Grill, Seguin
Day Trips: The Power Plant Texas Grill, Seguin
Comfort food in a comforting place

Gerald E. McLeod, April 16, 2021

Day Trips: Junction, Texas
Day Trips: Junction, Texas
Explore the eastern edge of West Texas at Junction

Gerald E. McLeod, April 9, 2021


Port Mansfield, Pelican's Cove Bar & Grill, fishing trip

One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Can't keep up with happenings around town? We can help.

Austin's queerest news and events

New recipes and food news delivered Mondays

Eric Goodman's Austin FC column, other soccer news

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle