The Louisiana Department of Wildlife & Fisheries opened the waters around Grand Isle and the coast to recreational fishing a week ago.
With the threat of tropical storm Bonnie looming for the weekend, a window of opportunity opened Friday and I got to make my first trip to Grand Isle this summer.
David Harrison and Carroll Keller were staying on Grand Isle for the traditional Tarpon Rodeo weekend. I received a call to visit them on Thursday afternoon to fish with them Friday.
I quickly accepted the invitation.
I agreed to meet them Friday morning at Bridgeside Marina at 6 a.m. Gretchen and I arrived at Bridgeside Marina around 5 a.m., which was in time to watch CBS broadcast part of the morning news on the BP oil spill.
Buggy Vegas, owner of Bridgeside Marina, stopped from his morning duties to give me some advice.
“Birds are working from the mouth of Caminada Pass to the back side of the island.” he said. “If you can’t catch a fish that means your line is not in the water.”
I bought some mullet in case we decided to set line out for bull reds. When David and Carroll arrived we launched the Big Blue Wave and quickly headed for the rocks at the mouth of Caminada Pass.
Four-foot swells were rolling at the rocks and made it impossible to fish. We headed across the pass towards Elmer’s Island to the cut behind the island.
It is now rocked in all the way back to the north shoreline.
We cranked up and headed for protective water behind Grand Isle. On the way in, “Twin” Dufrene was fishing bull reds by the bridge.
“Caught one, another broke my line, and re-rigging,” he yelled out. “Everything looks good this morning. We are using cut mullet and crack crab.”
We continued through Bayou Rigaud to the backside of the island towards the oyster reefs.
David threw the new shrimp by Gulp under a cork, Carroll fished with a chartreuse sparkle beetle under a cork, and I threw in tandem a 2-inch chartreuse sparkle beetle and the salt-n-pepper terror tail, cast and retrieve.
We caught two fish quickly over the reef – an 11-inch throw back and a 3-pound speckle trout. After a while we moved back to the island and found birds working everywhere within sight of the bridge.
We chased 11-inch trout for an hour without catching a keeper. We cranked-up again and headed for Coup Abel, which is on the backside of the Grand Terre Island.
Birds were working again.
David, Carroll, and I caught numerous 11-inch speckle trout, but all of them were throwbacks. Again we decided to move on.
Everywhere we went the water had a beautiful, light-green tint. With a high tide starting to change, we headed for Four Bayou Pass.
We threw smoke, chartreuse, and avocado colored beetles, the new shrimp by Gulp, and mirror lures on the western point in Four Bayou Pass without catching a fish. Looking across the pass, eastward, there are old camps surrounded by rocks.
We moved up current to the first old camp and anchored. Another boat moved close to us and anchored. They began throwing live minnows rigged Carolina style and began catching 20-inch redfish and 2-pound trout. It’s a sick feeling to watch another boat next to you catch fish when you cannot get a nibble.
We moved to the opposite side of the small rocked island. By now the tide was starting to roll out. After dropping the anchor off a point in the current, I decided to rig a cut mullet hook and try for big reds.
We brought one rod rigged with 50-pound braided line on a stiff 7-foot Ugly Stick with a Okuma Exixor EF 55-A spinning reel.
We call it the gorilla rod.
I cut a 1-inch piece of the mullet and hooked it on the # 4 kahle hook with a ¾ ounce Carolina rig. I placed a cast down current from our position and set the Ugly Stick in the rod holder. While the gorilla rod was out, we continued to throw plastic along the rocks with the hopes of catching speckle trout.
Within five minutes, the gorilla rod was bent over. Soon the line was stripping out of the reel and the fight was on. It took approximately 10 minutes to land the 27-inch red fish. Again, we set out the gorilla rod with cut mullet, and it soon bent over.
This time Carroll reeled in a 29-inch redfish.
We thought we had found a honey hole. Again, the gorilla rod went out with cut mullet and the gorilla rod bent over. David tried his hand at catching a redfish, but this one put up a bigger fight.
It eventually popped the line.
We re-rigged the gorilla line and set it out. Now, we were catching hard head catfish because the redfish had moved on.
Too bad the specs were undersized and had to be thrown back.