H&M Fishing Charters is a family affair

H&M Fishing Charters (985-258-3632) has its roots in a time that predated inshore fishing chartes, Jules Bellanger said.

“You didn’t call it (speckled trout and redfish guiding) guide fishing or charter fishing,” Bellanger said. “They had it offshore — people like Tim and Charlie Sebastian and Doc Kennedy, but not inshore. They didn’t have a charter fishing license.

“Uncle Nat (Nat Chighizola) taught me how to fish from a boat with MirrOlures. They were big then, in the early 1970s. Nobody knew what live bait was down here. Double shad rigs worked, but we never used them with customers. MirrOlures cost more, and (Chighizola) was in the tackle sales business and he was the one who started me taking people out fishing.

“I loved it!”

“He started taking paying customers out when he was 8 years old,” interjected father Arthur.

Jules’ first experience with live bait (he now calls himself a live bait specialist) came when he found out how to catch pogies with a cast net. He would look for them before daylight, and then pick up his customers.

Right out of high school, Jules set aside charter fishing to become a commercial shrimper, a Grand Isle tradition.

“The first year, I paid for my boat and the second year I paid for my house. The third year I set money aside. The fourth year I broke even, and then the fifth year I broke even,” he growled. “I decided that I couldn’t make it breaking even and needed a bigger shrimp boat or another job.

“I took a job at Grand Isle Shipyard because it allowed me to be home more.”

Twenty-seven years later he is still there as a materials coordinator.

H&M Charters started while Jules was working for the shipyard.

“They used to bring people from Exxon out fishing,” he said. “Mr. Clyde Prejean Jr. asked me if I would take customers out, and I said I would as part of being an employee for the shipyard.

“After holding a charter license became a requirement, I had to get one. Since my wife Pat would come out with me to help out, I suggested to her that she should think about chartering herself. A year later, she decided to try it. With the two of us in it, we had to form a company, and H&M was born.

Arthur Bellanger joined his son and daughter-in-law to make a trio of H&M captains after his retirement from Conoco Oil Company in 1985, and he continued to guide until 2010.

Both Jules and Pat Bellanger guide on a part-time basis, although they keep a ferocious schedule. Jules will often double-book morning and evening on weekends, but sticks with his job at the shipyard because he said chartering on Grand Isle is a seasonal business and changing off between jobs keeps each fresh.

Pat, for her part, works as treasurer for the Town of Grand Isle, but quickly noted that “if you call me, I’m going fishing. I get four weeks of vacation a year and have all my weekends.”

Fishing is a huge part of their lives.

“We fish a lot. We fish before work; we fish after work. We need to know where the fish are. I love it,” she said, flashing a sparkling smile. “When I start work at 8 a.m., I’ve already been fishing since 5:30 a.m.”

While they guide in separate boats, the couple does everything else together. They hunt deer in Tensas Parish. They rabbit hunt, and they duck hunt.

Jules confirmed Pat’s passion for the outdoors.

“She will get up before me to hunt for deer or ducks,” he said.

About Jerald Horst 959 Articles
Jerald Horst is a retired Louisiana State University professor of fisheries. He is an active writer, book author and outdoorsman.

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply