The legendary Chandeleur Islands

(Photo by Todd Masson)

Overnight stay makes speckled trout trips even better

Every fishing trip is a puzzle that must be solved, and it sure helps when you can put a bunch of the pieces together the day before.

That was the case not long ago when Capt. Justin Bowles, national television show host Kevin Ford and I made a trip to the legendary Chandeleur Islands rimming the Southeast Louisiana coast.

To shorten our over-water commute, we launched on the Mississippi coast and tucked into the backside of the rim of islands, searching for sea grass, clean water and baitfish. We caught some fish out of the boat and made an unproductive wade attempt or two before locating an area with all the ingredients we were looking for.

The tide was falling by that time in the afternoon, so the setup wasn’t ideal, but we walked a large flat and put some speckled trout on our stringers. The evidence was there that this would be THE spot in the morning on a rising tide. 

Multiple days

Fortunately, that was doable for us because we’d made arrangements to sleep on the Chandeleur Islander, a jack-up barge that serves as a remote hostel for anglers wanting to enjoy the incomparable island chain for multi-day stretches.

We tied off to the Islander’s dock close to dusk and ambled up to the galley to enjoy a feast prepared by Islander owner Erin Hellyer. With full bellies, we slept like bricks until the ringing of our alarms awoke us in the predawn hours. Moments later, fueled by coffee and a big breakfast, we piled into Bowles’ Skeeter and pointed it toward the flat we’d discovered the afternoon before.

After getting the anchor set, the laconic Bowles slipped into the inky-black water, its clarity not yet evident in the low light. I soon followed, and we cast topwater lures as we shuffled toward the grass flat.

We didn’t even make it all the way before Bowles’ Spit-N Image drew an explosion and his rod doubled from the pull of a protesting speckled trout. Within seconds, my Matrix Mullet was treated the same way.

For the next three hours, we enjoyed almost nonstop action from hungry summertime speckled trout.

I’ve had a long, storied career in which I’ve been privileged to do so many diverse activities in the outdoors, but that day ranks in the top five for sure. It was simply magical.

The fishing is almost always great on the Chandeleurs, but this sunset from the islands is definitely a keeper. (Photo by Todd Masson)

Wade right in

Wade fishing isn’t something I do a whole lot because the marshes where I spend most of my time are as wadeable as a giant bowl of chocolate pudding. But that doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy it. There’s just something special about being in the water with the fish, not to mention the fact you’re entirely stealthy and even the most wary speckled trout has no idea you’re there.

That day would not have been possible if we hadn’t stayed the night before at the Islander. If we had launched in the morning and made the journey across the sound, it might have taken us hours to find the right area to wade, and by that time, the sun would have been high and the fish wouldn’t likely have been so aggressive.

Being on site and knowing where to go first thing in the morning was essential to having such an incredible experience. The Chandeleur Islands are borderline mythical, and every speckled trout lover should fish them. 

But don’t pass up a stay at the Islander, if you can afford it. You can thank me later.

About Todd Masson 670 Articles
Todd Masson has covered outdoors in Louisiana for a quarter century, and is host of the Marsh Man Masson channel on YouTube.

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