Inshore, nearshore or offshore... pick your preferred type of saltwater fishing and you will find that in the quaint little town of Grand Isle fishing comes as second nature.
While it may be less vocal about its sportfishing prospects compared to the neighboring powerhouses of Venice and New Orleans, don’t let Grand Isle's low profile fool you one bit. The only inhabited barrier island on the Louisiana coast, it has direct access to the Gulf’s premier fishing grounds while flanking the nourishing waterways of the Mississippi River delta. This makes the area a coveted hotspot for inshore and bluewater fanatics alike.
You just need to take a look at the local charter boats to see how much variety there is round here. A quick glance at area marinas reveals pretty much every vessel under the sun. 14-foot shallow water skiffs are found alongside 50-foot sportfishers used for exploring the oil rigs 100 miles offshore in 5,000 feet of water. Suffice to say, this little town has plenty going on under the surface.
The Louisiana coast is best known for Redfish. Also known as Red Drum, these fish feed and spawn in the passes extending from the marshes into the open Gulf. Louisiana has thousands of such passes and inlets along its shoreline, and Grand Isle is no exception. The productive waters are filled with shrimp and crabs, the primary food for Reds. Speckled Trout, Flounder, and Sheepshead all thrive in these waters and are top targets on any local inshore fishing trip. These trips tend to cost about $500.
But it's not all about the Redfish. Name any other saltwater species and you will likely find it within easy striking distance of Grand Isle. Black Drum, Amberjack, Cobia, Snapper, Wahoo and King Mackerel, can all be caught in a 8 hour 'half day' trip, just to name a few.
However, when it comes to Grand Isle, there's one word on everyone's lips: Yellowfin.
This is a bucket list fish. Beautiful, big, and strong, this fish tastes good and fights like almost nothing else. Yellowfin Tuna will test the strongest equipment and the strongest man or woman.
The Grand Isle fishing charters that don’t want to stay inshore are known for one thing: Tuna fishing trips. These will take at least 12 hours, and could last for anything as long as a full 24 hours. Boats in the local fleet are built for speed and fishability. While you’ll find some boats with air conditioning and living arrangements, comfort isn’t always the top priority. But hey, this is about as serious as fishing gets. With all that in mind, 24-hour offshore trips are not for the faint of heart or weak of will.
Offshore Tuna fishing trips will usually take you fishing at least 60 miles from the coast. A 12 hour trip can cost anything from $1700 to nearly $3000, depending on the size of the boat. 24 hour trips start at about $4000, but can get you catching a huge amount of the best quality fish (and Louisiana bag limits are liberal).
Rules and Regulations
In Louisiana, charter fishing anglers need nothing more than a $10 license. This will cover you to fish from a charter vessel for three days in saltwater, with a licensed guide on board at all times. You must provide the charter guide’s license number when you buy a Charter Passenger License.
A regular non-resident saltwater license when fishing without a guide is $17.50 for a one-day permit. Annual non-resident licenses for saltwater costs $90 ($60 for the basic license and $30 for the saltwater license).
Licenses can be bought online and printed at home to take with you on your fishing trip.
One of the most basic techniques for Grand Isle fishing is exploring the inshore marshes with a popping cork with an imitation shrimp jig suspended two feet underneath. Redfish and Seatrout are the most common targets.
Many anglers prefer bottom fishing with live bait... either shrimp or crabs. This technique is effective for a variety of species whether fishing in water two feet deep or 20 feet deep.
Offshore techniques run the gamut, including trolling for Tuna, Wahoo or Mackerel. But many anglers prefer bottom fishing with live bait around the plentiful oil rigs. You can buy live bait, but most anglers catch their own around the oil rigs using Sabiki rigs on smaller spinning tackle.
If you can stand the heat, the summer months are prime for shallow water Redfishing and Seatrout. Limits are common. Fall months attract Yellowfin Tuna, Cobia and Amberjack to the closer near-shore oil rigs. If you want to catch a prized Wahoo, go in February.
In reality, however, something is biting somewhere virtually every month in Louisiana. Anglers simply need to pick your poison.