As the temperatures start heating up, so does the fishing at the Chandeleur Islands. With abundant experience and a polished strategy, no one knows this better than Cayce Causey of Magnolia, Texas. His bounty of consistently full ice chests justifies the drive from his residence to Pass Christian, Mississippi, where he launches for the run to the north side of the islands. It’s a popular fishing spot for anglers launching from Louisiana as well.
“The fishing is good and is only going to improve in July,” Causey said.
Take it with you
According to Causey, the run to the Chandeleurs takes some planning, contemplation and discipline. Preparations are necessary to ensure a safe and successful trip not only there, but also for the return to the launch. He runs in a 25-foot Mowdy Cat outfitted with a 300-horsepower Mercury R.
“You must ensure you have everything you need to catch the fish,” he said. “You also need enough fuel to make it there and back. There are no filling stations out there.”
Causey has developed a successful catch plan that dictates the gear he utilizes and the type of bait determined by the conditions. While wind is the biggest culprit to spoil a superior fishing experience, he relies on his Penn spinning gear rigged with 25-pound J-Braid. The tackle is determined by tide and landscape. Causey also adds a 12-inch steel leader to combat the shark bite.
Causey finds the incoming tide brings the mullet and croakers in. Like most fishing types, the ideal time includes two hours before and after peak tide.
Fishing the shoreline with pockets of 4 to 6 feet of water with grass has historically housed the speckled trout. Live bait options include shrimp on a popping cork. Artificial bait like Paddle Heads brings bigger fish when finding deeper water of 8 feet. Causey claims additional success with gold spoons when working around the point at Freemason Island.
“The croakers are on fire right now, and will only get better as we roll into July,” he said. “Start at sunrise and when the sun comes through, the bite should turn on.”
The Chandeleur Islands offer a superior fishing experience leading Causey to make trips up to five days. While anglers might see large vessels with sleeping quarters moored in favorite spots, he finds refuge at the Chandeleur Islander, a stationary jack-up fishing lodge. Causey and others fishing from smaller boats can utilize the jack-up as a home base for meals and sleeping quarters.
“If you are going to stay overnight, the Chandeleur Islander has buoys you can tie your boat off to, and they will bring you to the lodge by dingy,” Causey said.
When it comes to the trials and tribulations of life, they say learning occurs through experience. Causey reasons that the same can be said when fishing the Chandeleur Islands. His many trips have prepared him to not only fish successfully, but comfortably as well.
“The deer flies are terrible out there,” he said. “I recommend you wear long pants when you fish out there. They go for your ankles, and after wearing shorts and having my ankles swell at night from the bites, I fish in long pants.”
Causey’s Chandeleur Island strategy yields excellent catches, and he is happy to share what he knows. He spends most of his time fishing and pulling large numbers from the waters. With the goal of each catch topping the one before, Causey takes fishing seriously and strives for impressive size.
“I’m looking for something larger than 30 ½ inches long,” he said. “I have a reputation to protect.”