BREAKWATERS, BRIDGE PILINGS, MARSH ISLANDS AND MUD FLATS— IT’S HARD TO DECIDE WHERE TO FISH OUT OF GRAND ISLE, LOUISIANA. Photo: Tim Osborne
BREAKWATERS, BRIDGE PILINGS, MARSH ISLANDS AND MUD FLATS— IT’S HARD TO DECIDE WHERE TO FISH OUT OF GRAND ISLE, LOUISIANA.

Miles of bayous, creeks, open bays and big passes make Grand Isle, Louisiana the perfect winter habitat for fish and kayak fisherman.

Just two hours southwest of New Orleans, Grand Isle seems eons away from the Big Easy. The marsh is flat and wide, only interrupted by oil and gas rigs on the distant horizon and the radio tower that presides over the small fishing village. 

The quiet bayou waters are occasionally disturbed by the splash of jumping mullet and the scream of swirling seagulls. And the pungent odor of muddy saltwater is seasoned with the spicy scent of someone cooking Cajun seafood. Even in the dead of winter, warm air blowing in off the Gulf of Mexico will bring a touch of summer to chilly anglers. Louisiana Highway 1 is the only road cutting through Grand Isle, and anglers can launch anywhere there’s parking. 

The best reason to love Grand Isle is pushing a little wake as it scoots through the water ahead of my kayak. I make a short cast and land my lure a few feet in front of the cruising fish. The wake speeds up, and a red drum crashes my lure. My heart thumps as a six-pound submarine darts away, towing me and my kayak. 

Grand Isle is wintertime redfish heaven and kayak anglers will find willing adversaries almost anywhere they find water.

HOME BASE 

For camping kayak anglers, it‘s hard to beat the convenience of Grand Isle State Park (985-787-2559). To upgrade accommodations, check out Bridge Side Marina’s cabins, beachfront houses and RV spaces (985-787- 2419; www.bridgesidecabinsandmarina.net).

SEASONS OF THE ISLE 

October through December are the best months, but January and February can offer fine fishing on nice, warm days. Winter weather conditions can change quickly, so kayak anglers will need to bring waterproof gear for cool, wet weather.

FISHING TIPS 

Look for days when the tide is moving, the weather is warm and wind is gentle. Winter water levels are generally low, which concentrates fish in deep marsh channels. Good sunlight means good sight-fishing for feeding reds. Best live baits for winter reds are cacahoe minnows, live crabs or live shrimp. There are several good marinas and bait and tackle shops on LA1 where anglers can purchase live bait, but it is often possible to either trap or cast-net bait right from the road.

For artificial lures choose a Zara Spook for topwater action. It’s hard to beat soft plastic grubs (chartreuse and black), and gold spoons when the fish move deep. Fly guys should tie up poppers in bone or white and any pattern that looks like a shrimp. Kayak anglers can fish anywhere they can park along the road. One of the best spots is Elmer’s Island; the road that turns off LA1 and leads to endless beaches and bayous.

To learn the ropes, contact Captain Danny Wray at Calmwater Tours (225-721-8182; www.calmwatercharters.net). He’ll set you up with a guided trip and give you the best advice for fishing the area.

DON’T MISS 

Calmwater Tours has dolphin-watching trips, birding trips, Civil War fort tours and pirate trips—after all, Grand Isle was infamous pirate Jean Lafitte’s home territory. Any of Grand Isle’s restaurants are good, this is seafood central.

LOCAL INFO 

Find more info on places to stay, weather conditions and special events at www.grandisle.info.

At any moment, Ed Mashburn is likely to be found fishing from a kayak, building a wooden kayak or writing about kayak fishing. Look for his new book Bull Redfish on the Gulf Coast published through Amazon.

This article originally appeared on page 38 of the Winter 2013 issue of Kayak Angler magazine. To read this article in our digital issue, click here. Read the rest of the Winter 2013 issue in our digital editions.

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