Visitors head to Grand Isle, Louisiana, for many reasons. Part island, part coastal town, it’s popular among those looking to spend a day at the beach or camp in its incredible state park. And there’s another reason. The Grand Isle fishing scene draws in anglers hoping to reel in a dream catch, year-round.
Grand Isle is small. Its landmass spans just under 8 miles but in return, it offers access to hundreds of productive waterways. Add 280 unique fish species to that equation and it quickly becomes clear why it’s considered a sportfisher’s paradise.
From the marshy waters of Barataria Bay to the skinny passes that pave the way to open waters of the Gulf of Mexico, we’ll tell you what to catch, how to do it, and where to go in this guide to fishing in Grand Isle.
Grand Isle Fish Species
|Yellowfin Tuna||Year Round||3 fish per day|
|Blackfin Tuna||Year Round||No possession limit|
|Marlin||Year Round||No possession limit|
|Red Snapper||Changes yearly||2 fish per day|
|Redfish||Year Round||5 fish per day|
|Trout||Year Round||25 fish per day|
The diversity of fish in Grand Isle is one of the bigger draws for visiting anglers. Starting off in deep offshore waters, moving into the reefs, and finally reaching the productive shallow waters, we take you through what it takes to hook some of the popular species found here.
Big game anglers come to Grand Isle with one fish in mind – Yellowfin Tuna. This is true, in fact, for most of coastal Louisiana. Yellowfin Tuna is a year-round target in these parts and it delivers both flavor and a battle. Known as one of the hardest fighting fish in the Atlantic, heading out into the Gulf could put on what could be a three-hour battle just to get one fish on the boat.
If you’re hoping to go home with a trophy, visit between September and November. Despite the fact that summertime is the most popular time to fish for Yellowfin Tuna, the really big fish come with the colder waters. Be sure to bring plenty of live bait, regardless of when you’re fishing. This Tuna is a seasonal eater and is most likely go for bait that mimics whatever it’s already chasing.
Snapper and Grouper
No list of top fish in the Gulf would be complete without our favorite bottom-dwelling species. And topping the list within that list is definitely Red Snapper. The open season for these fish may not be long, but hooking your limits in Grand Isle is easy. All you need to do is pick a rig! Red Snapper are drawn to structure and luckily, there’s plenty of it around here.
If you don’t make it to town during the open season, don’t sweat it – there’s much more lurking deep below the surface. The oil rigs, and the barnacles attached to them, draw in plenty of hungry Mangrove Snapper as well as Warsaw, Gag, and Scamp Grouper. You’ll be working deep depths so gear up with a braided line and fluorocarbon leader. These will help you trick fish with excellent eyesight and sharp teeth.
Louisiana’s coast is best known for Redfish, and Grand Isle is no exception. Countless marshy passes that line the way towards the open waters of the Gulf provide the prime habitat for Redfish in all stages of their lives. These fish spawn and grow in the bait-laden waters, finding few reasons to leave. No matter when you come to town, Redfishing is on the cards! If you’re after a trophy, however, schedule your trip for September.
Although it can be a stressful month for Louisiana residents (it’s peak time for tropical storm activity) the arrival of Bull Redfish provides something of a silver lining. This is one of the best times to hook big fish in the passes. Bull Reds can weigh over 60 pounds so bring heavier tackle, a braided line, and pair a sinker with live Croaker or Shrimp to avoid drag.
While you’re fishing in the passes, there’s another iconic Louisiana fish to be on the lookout for. Speckled Trout have long been an inshore game fish favorite, making for both a tasty meal and an exciting battle. And once the summer hits, novices and experienced anglers alike head out in search of some action.
Speckled Trout are schooling fish, meaning where there’s one there are surely more. If you’re hoping to stock the cooler, head out with a baitwell full of Croaker and Shrimp. Pair your bait with a Carolina rig or free-line it, and you’re on track to catch some big fish. As always, keep an eye on the tide report. This will heavily influence where you choose to cast a line.
That’s right, Florida isn’t your only US destination for huge “Silver Kings.” Some of the best Tarpon fishing in Louisiana is concentrated in the area around the mouth of the Mississippi River and our very own Grand Isle. If you still aren’t convinced, the fact that the town hosts the International Grand Isle Tarpon Rodeo every summer should seal the deal.
Between July and September, water temperatures and depths are ideal for battling monster fish. And what a battle it is! As these glistening silver monsters thrash through the water, you’ll need to have your wits about you to emerge the winner. Slow-moving live bait and a medium-heavy rod will make things a little easier. If you’re looking to challenge yourself, fly fishing in extremely shallow waters is a real thrill.
And So Much More!
With so much great fishing action in Grand Isle, we couldn’t let you go without listing a few more potential targets. While offshore fishing for Yellowfin Tuna you’ll also come across Blackfin Tuna, Mahi Mahi, Swordfish, Wahoo, and White and Blue Marlin.
On an inshore trip except to encounter Flounder, Black Drum, Sheepshead, Bluefish, Pompano, and Catfish. You can even set your sights on some freshwater favorites including Largemouth Bass and Crappie.
How to Fish in Grand Isle
Now that you know what you’d like to catch, it’s time to decide on how to land ’em. Below, we’ve highlighted a few popular ways to get your hands on a trophy or fill the cooler with fish on your next Grand Isle fishing adventure.
Charter Boat Fishing
Hopping aboard a charter fishing boat in Grand Isle is the best way to hook a trophy or fill the cooler. It’s also your only option if you’re planning to go offshore. Yellowfin Tuna trips often take place over the course of 12 hours and can easily extend overnight. While less time is required to reach inshore fishing grounds, being aboard a vessel allows you to move easily in search of new productive spots.
Best of all, you’ll have a local guide leading the way. Your captain will provide guidance, share local techniques, as well as his secret honey holes. Fishing is a big part of life here and, as a result, there are a variety of vessels to choose from. Find powerful sportfishing boats to blast you offshore, as well as smaller vessels to silently navigate your way through the passes.
There are obvious benefits to chartering a boat but, if you’d prefer to stay on shore, Grand Isle is a great place to do so. Visitors come to town to hit the beaches and there’s nothing stopping anglers from doing so, too! Surf fishing in Grand Isle can yield a variety of catches including Speckled Trout, Redfish, Black Drum, Pompano, and even Sharks.
Just stick your rods into the sand and wait for the strike. You aren’t limited to just the beach either. Set up in the passes, along the banks, and you’ll have similar targets on your hands. As a shore angler, you’ll have the advantage of accessing shallow waters boats can’t. It may require a little more effort, but you’ll gain a familiarity with the area that’s unbeatable.
Another great way to cast from shore is heading to the piers. Grand Isle has weathered many hurricanes and recent investments into restoring its coastal structures have resulted in some high-quality fishing piers. Head to Grand Isle Fishing Pier, the Public Lighted Pier, or the Handicapped Fishing Pier, which can accommodate anglers with disabilities.
Fish most commonly caught from these structures include Redfish, Flounder, Speckled Trout, and Black Drum. Gear up with some live bait and a Carolina rig to fish as the locals do! The piers are arguably the best place to get a taste of the local fishing culture. They draw anglers from all walks of life and varying ages making for a truly welcoming environment.
Last but not least, Grand Isle’s flat and marshy environment was made for kayak fishing. This is a highly immersive experience. You’ll get right up close to your targets and power your own engine. Seasonality doesn’t play a factor in deciding when to schedule a kayak trip. Even in the wintertime, the Gulf of Mexico sends over a warm breeze to keep you comfortable.
When in a kayak, you’ll have the advantage of being able to access areas that larger boats and shore anglers can’t reach. That means you could have entire stretches of water teeming with Redfish and Speckled Trout all to yourself! Depending on your preferences, gear up with a spinning or fly rod and some good quality jig heads or plastic baits.
Keep in mind that you will likely have to bring your own kayak with you. Rentals on the island are few and far between, but you may be able to find some in nearby towns.
Where To Fish in Grand Isle
Being that it’s a barrier island surrounded by water, the simple answer to where to cast your line during a Grand Isle fishing trip is – pretty much anywhere! The fact that there are so many waterways to choose from can be overwhelming. To help you narrow down your choices, we’ve highlighted a few top spots below.
- Elmer’s Island: The reason why Elmer’s Island is such a great fishing spot lies in its accessibility. Charter boat anglers, kayak anglers, and surf anglers all come in pursuit of Redfish, Speckled Trout, and Flounder. You can even go home with Blue Crab!
- Oil Rigs: Head to the oil rigs about 30 miles offshore and you’ll encounter dozens of boats hoping to score Yellowfin and Blackfin Tuna, Mahi Mahi, Marlin, and Red Snapper.
- Grand Isle State Park: For an entry fee of $3, you’ll have access to an excellent fishing pier, kayak launch site, and beaches for surfcasting. Speckled Trout and Redfish are caught here year-round, whereas summertime is reserved for the annual Tarpon Rodeo.
- Southwest Pass: The deepest and longest of the passes leading from the Mississippi River Delta to the Gulf, Southwest Pass is a year-round fishery. Staying inshore will put you on Bull Redfish, Trout, and Largemouth Bass. It’s proximity to offshore waters also offers up something to anglers hoping to go after Tuna and Snapper.
Anything else I need to know?
The final step in securing the Grand Isle fishing trip of your dreams is making sure you’re fishing within the law. We lay out the basics regarding fishing licenses and seasonality below. There are also more than a few noteworthy tournaments that you’ll want to know about – keep reading!
Fishing Licenses and Seasonality
First things first, if you’re over the age of 16 you’ll need to purchase a fishing license. This applies to anglers casting from a charter boat, the shore, or the piers. If you’re fishing south of the “saltwater line,” you’ll need to pick up an additional saltwater fishing license. For more detailed information, check out our extensive guide.
The second thing we need to cover is seasonality. Louisiana is known for its very liberal bag limits, however, some fish, like Red Snapper, are subject to strict seasonal closures. Bear in mind that open seasons and bag limits are subject to change and always check with the LWF before heading out.
Fishing has historically played a big part in life on Grand Isle. This fact has resulted in more than a few iconic fishing tournaments. We’ll start with the oldest and most prestigious – The International Grand Isle Tarpon Rodeo. Established in 1928, it’s the oldest fishing tournament in the US and takes place during the last weekend of July.
This isn’t the only fishing rodeo you can participate in, either. There’s also the Grand Isle Speckled Trout Rodeo, ABC of Louisiana Fishing Rodeo, Ladies Fishing Rodeo, and Swollfest Fishing Rodeo – to name a few.
Grand Isle: A Small Town with Big Fishing
It may be a small town, but the Grand Isle fishing scene is huge. Whether you choose to head into the deep blue waters of the Gulf or stay inland in the marsh, one thing’s for certain. You’re going to catch fish. Be steeped in the town’s rich fishing traditions, indulge in the beautiful beaches, and go home with a trophy – all in one trip!
If you want to learn more about fishing in Louisiana, read our full guide.
Tell us about your fishing trips in Grand Isle. What are your favorite species to target here? Let us know in the comments below!
Iva’s been traveling for as long as she can remember. The places that she gravitates to most are always by the water, so writing about fishing comes naturally to her. Come summertime, catch her on the shores of Lake Ontario in her hometown of Toronto.