I will be spending a week in the Grand Isle area the first of February with my 26-foot Robalo, and would like to know if you could point me in the right direction for amberjack, grouper and possibly tuna.
Thanks, Ron Wilson
Capt. Paul's response:
I can't guarantee that you will catch fish at any of the sites, as the weather and the Mississippi River freshwater rip may influence the entire area.
Here are several locations that could produce a decent catch. I can't guarantee any of them will always be decent at a specific time, so keep that in mind.
Also, your rig may be a little "light" for some of these locations, so keep that in mind when planning a trip. Fuel, water conditions and, of course, the weather should play an important part of your preparations. Be sure to have all of the necessary safety equipment aboard, and then some.
The Sandy Point rigs
Fish for speckled trout, redfish (caution: most of the rigs are in federal waters), grouper and amberjack.
There are several rig platforms in the Sandy Point area, but the all-time favorite rig in that area is referred to as the Green Monster, WD-23-3 CMP, which I believe is located at or about N29º 10.547 x W89º 34.555.
It is about 21 miles from the green No. 1 Aid to Navigation (ATON) can at the beginning of the Barataria Pass entrance channel in the Gulf of Mexico (N29º 14.436 x W89º 54.753) at a bearing of 102 degrees.
The closest platform to the Empire Jetty in the Gulf is MX-WD 24-4. It is at or about N29º 12.538 x W89º 32.375, and is about 4.9 miles from the red No. 2 ATON at the jetty.
Near the above platform, there is a "flare" platform, MX-WD 24-FLARE No. 1, at or about N29º 11.962 x W89º 32.172.
The southernmost of the series of platforms, MX-WD 24-5D, is at or about N29º 10.707 x W89º 32.044.
The easternmost of the series, MX-WD 192-8, is at or about N29º 11.451 x W89º 30.411.
Two of the most popular locations are near the southwest section of the group. MX-WD 23-3 is located 5.2 miles at a bearing of 159 degrees from ATON red No. 2, and is at or about N29º 10.524 x W89º 34.559.
The other, MX-WD 23-FLARE No. 3, is at or about N29º 10.489 x W89º 33.099, and is about 6.2 miles at a bearing of 146 degrees from red No. 2 ATON.
All of these features may be viewed on NOAA charts 11358-Barataria Bay and Approaches and 11361_1 Miss. River Delta.
As for the immediate Grand Island area, the Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries has an extensive listing of all the artificial reefs on its web site. Check it out by going to www.louisianasportsman.com, then click on the Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries tab at the left side of the web page in the dark red sidebar banner section of the page. It is just under my "Capt. Paul's Fishing Edge" button.
Once on the LDWF site, you can navigate through the fishing information selection to the section on ARTIFICAL REEFS. Once on the artificial-reef page, you will note that they have offshore artificial reefs listed by area. There are numerous locations throughout the Louisiana coastal waters, including Grand Isle.
If nothing else, it is interesting to read the information about the reef program. But the big advantage is that they list the latitude and longitude for all of the artificial reef locations.
Be aware, however, that the LDWF listed the coordinates as degrees, minutes and seconds, and are shown using NAD 27 datum. If your GPS is set to DD-MM.MMM, or another datum, you must convert them to the same format as your GPS or the GPS to their format. To convert seconds (SS) to thousandths of a minute (.MMM), DIVIDE the seconds by 60. To convert thousandths of minutes (.MMM) to seconds (SS), multiply by 60.
Freeport sulphur rig
The old Freport-McMoRan Main Sulphur Platform, which was located off the coast of Grand Isle, is the center of one of the artificial reefs. The site is about 3.9 miles from the ATON light green No. 1, at the beginning of the entrance to the Barataria Pass channel, just south of Grand Isle.
Freeport-McMoRan donated the sulphur rig to the state of Louisiana for use as an artificial fishing reef. It was partly disassembled, and is now completely submerged below the water. The site is about 30 feet below the surface.
This Grand Isle reef is now marked with five buoys. The northernmost of the buoys, FISH FLRA-27-B HAVEN, is located at or about N29º11.6223 x W89º 53.670.
Another buoy, FLRA-27-A, is at or about N29º11.597 x W89º 52.990. It is about 3.8 miles south of Barataria channel marker NUN RED 2.
The center buoy of the three southernmost buoys is at or about N29º10.948 x W89º 53.335.
To the south and west of the old sulphur mine reef is another set of offshore platforms in the GRAND ISLE area. These are the Exxon-Mobil Offshore Platforms.
These are located to the Southwest of ATON green No. 1 at the Barataria Pass channel at a distance of about 11 miles at a bearing of 202 degrees. They have been known to be productive at certain times of the year.
"L" Center Platform has living quarters (fish for mangroves): N29º 06'05.2 x W89º 58'41.7.
"BB" Platform (fish for reds): N29º 09'15.6 x W90º 01'07.3.
"CC" Platform: N29º 10'37.5 x W89º 59' 31.02.
"9M" Platform: N29º10'37.2 x W89º52'30.5.
"019" Platform: N29º08'59.5 x W89º53'50.7.
"J" Platform (fish for mangroves): N29º06'02.8 x W89º59'40.0.
"P" Platform: N29º06'31.1 x W89º58'09.2.
"Q" Platform (fish for mangroves): N29º05'48.9 x W89º05'40.4.
"R" Platform: N29º07'21.7 x W89º57'58.3.
"S" Platform: N29º 09' 10.9 x W89º58'02.7.
"T" Platform: N29º06'39.3 x W90º01'26.2.
"U" Platform (fish for mangroves): N29º05'48.9 x W89º57'52.7.
"W" Platform: N29º05'41.2 x W89º56'31.6.
Please note that the positions are state in degrees, minutes and seconds. No datum was listed, but most such platforms are listed using NAD 27 datum.
The Midnight Lump
Another usually productive location is the Midnight Lump. The area is officially named The Sackett Bank. It is a draw for tuna and wahoo during this time of the year. The Midnight Lump has become very popular in the last decade. Sometimes there are more than 100 boats a day in the active part of the season.
You will need a deepwater depthfinder to actually find and "see" the exact location. The seabed rises from 60+ fathoms to 33 fathoms at the "lump." Picture a series of truncated cones rising from the seabed.
Gulf currents push water over the top of the lump, causing smaller baitfish to be pushed against and over the lump. Amberjack, tuna, marlin, snapper, grouper and wahoo usually gather there to eat. Usually fishing one side of the lump is better than the other. The currents will determine which side of the lump is the better side to fish.
The approximate center of The Midnight Lump is at or about N28º 38.122 x W89º 33.249. The location is about 20.5 miles from Southwest Pass at a bearing of 201 degrees, and is about 35.2 miles at a bearing of 192 degrees from the end of the breakwater (N29º08.233 x W89º26.184) at Tiger Pass.
The location is about 20.14 miles from the Southwest Pass of the Mississippi River at a position near the lighthouse at a bearing of 202 degrees; it is also about 19.36 miles at a bearing of 203 degrees from the green No. 1 gong buoy in the lower part of the SW channel.
This position is about 49.64 miles from the red No. 12 marker in Barataria Pass at a point that is between Grand Isle and Grand Terre Island.
NOAA chart No. 11316A-Leased blocks, Miss. River to Galveston shows the Lump as well as the entrance to Southwest Pass.
All of these positions are stated as ddd,mm.mmm, and were determined using WGS 84 datum. All bearings are stated in magnetic degrees.