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.


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KEYWORDS FOR THIS STORY

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

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