Why you should surf fish in Gorillaville

Sammy Romano knows well surf-fishing opportunities for speckled trout exist in western Louisiana, primarily at Holly Beach but also the hidden treasure of the beaches of western Cameron Parish near Sabine Pass.

But his focus is closer to home, in East Louisiana.

“I’ve pretty much narrowed it down to Elmer’s Island, Grand Isle and, occasionally, Timbalier,” Romano said. “I like Elmer’s Island because it’s the only place you can drive your car on the beach, and I have good memories of it as a kid.”

Elmer’s Island isn’t an island at all, but rather a couple-mile-long sliver of sandy beach front with a belt of interior salt marshes located between the Gulf’s beaches and Highway 1.

Long a private property with an entrance fee for the public, the 230-acre piece of sand and marsh passed into public ownership as the Elmer’s Island Wildlife Refuge after the death of previous owner Jay Elmer.

Not just any part of Elmer’s Island attracts Romano’s attention, however. Instead, the very eastern end of the beach where it dead ends in Caminada Pass is his favorite location.

For reasons that only sedimentologists and hydrologists can explain, a massive complex of sandbars extends several hundred yards into the Gulf of Mexico.

The shallow waters over the bars and their exposed location produce a maze of intimidating standing waves called “Gorillaville” by local speckled trout anglers.

The name was invented in the 1970s by Terry St. Cyr, a trophy speckled trout fisherman who has his own chapter in the book “Trout Masters: How Louisiana’s Best Anglers Catch the Lunkers.”

“I named it that because of the gorilla-sized waves that the spot has,” St. Cyr admitted with a chuckle.

Romano likes the name and thinks it’s appropriate “because it’s got some big speckled trout there.”

Romano didn’t just stumble over the area by accident, however.

“I studied Google Earth, and I could see a lot of wave action near the pass,” he said. “That indicated sandbars, shallows and diverse bottoms.

“Every fish relates to structure — currents or physical structure — and uses it for its advantage to feed or hide. If you do nothing but key on what’s different anywhere, you will find fish.”

Gorillaville is a maze of sandbars with chest- or neck-deep troughs between them. Anglers almost always must wade to the troughs to get atop a sandbar to fish.

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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.

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