Louisiana State Park Series: Grand Isle and Bayou Segnette

These two parks epitomize Louisiana’s unique fishing world

There’s an old saying, “Since there is six times as much water as dry land on earth, any fool can plainly see that the Good Lord meant for man to fish six times as much as we works.”

No fisherman would argue with that. But if you apply that principle to the areas around Bayou Segnette and Grand Isle state parks in the lower reaches of south Louisiana, it would be “hundreds” of times more water than land, not just six. Such is the nature of this unique area of the coastal area of the state. This is the essence of fishing, Louisiana style.

Mother Nature’s marvels are on display here. But sometimes, so is her wrath. The barrier island of Grand Isle was ravaged by Hurricane Ida in 2021 when the hurricane made landfall near Port Fourchon on Aug. 29 with winds of up to 150 mph. Every single one of the Isle’s roughly 2,500 structures was damaged. More than 700 were totally destroyed and it was months before power was even restored. The Bayou Segnette area was blasted as well, although not as directly as the Grand Isle area. Damage was significant there, too.

All this left both of these state parks in dire need of repair. Fortunately those repairs have been, or continue to be made. If you visit, check on the latest status of things beforehand.

Here’s what visitors to these fantastic areas have to look forward to.

Grand Isle State Park

No boat? No problem. Adventurous fishermen wade right out in the Gulf and catch several species of fish, plus have a relaxing time on the water — or should that be “in” the water.

On Sept. 21, 2021, this sad message appeared on the Grand Isle State Park Facebook page: “Grand Isle State Park is currently closed to the public due to ongoing cleanup & repair efforts following Hurricane Ida. At this time, there is no estimated reopening date. If you have questions about existing reservations, please call Reserve America. Park staff cannot assist you with this information via telephone or email. We appreciate your understanding and hope to see you in the future. We’ll be back!”

Fortunately, they are almost fully back and while there is much to do, this state park should be totally back up and running bigger and better than before shortly.

Janie Murphey shows off the variety of fish you can catch in Grand Isle.

“As far as we know, we should be pretty close to ready to open right after the first of the year or sometime within that period. As it stood through the summer, most useable housing was leased out to FEMA workers and others working on repair, but we are getting close to returning to normal operations,” said Clifford Melius, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Louisiana State Parks. “The good news is that what was destroyed is being made new again. Out of the rubble comes something better.”

Melius said that includes a new higher, more stable fishing pier that will be extended out even further, new bath houses and a new crabbing pier plus completely rebuilt structures. He said he appreciates people’s patience as do the Grand Isle businesses and residents. People are already coming back and that’s a great thing. Put this area back on your bucket list.

Fishermen can stay next to some of the best fishing in the world and have access to dozens of top charter trips or just go enjoy boating. With more than 280 species of fish and four seasons of fishing, Grand Isle invites anglers of all ages and skill levels to cast their line in the abundant, surrounding waters.

People who stay at the park are also located right down historic Hwy. 1 just past legendary fishing spots like Galliano, Golden Meadow and Port Fourchon. Launches for private boats and dozens of guides are available for nearby inshore fishing or trips offshore. It’s a year round fishing paradise.

Birding enthusiasts will also delight in the beauty of the lagoons and the Gulf shore. This unique environment attracts numerous species of birds and other wildlife, so bring your binoculars or a camera to enjoy the opportunity to view nature unspoiled.

Unlike most parks, what you see is what you get. If you want to make a little side trip to an amusement park or museum, you are out of luck. It’s Grand Isle and the Gulf. That’s it. And thats what makes it special.

A couple of recent events like the Ride the Bull kayak tournament and the Island Strong Beach Fest “celebrates the resilience of our community and helps raise awareness for the work that still needs to be done for us to fully recover,” said Grand Isle Mayor David Camardelle. “We also encourage you to come down to stay a weekend, book a fishing trip or patronize a local business. Everyone has a role to play in this recovery.”

Bayou Segnette State Park

One of the most unique overnight stays in the state park system is in one of the floating cabins at Bayou Segnette.

Fortunately, even though this park had hurricane damage, it got back up and running much quicker than its sister park. The park was closed with no electricity, minor flooding within the park grounds, minor damage to the group camps and cabins, and multiple trees down that had to be removed from the park.

Today, everything is operational and going strong and offering the best of everything. Just a fifteen-minute drive across the Mississippi River from New Orleans, a multitude of recreational opportunities awaits visitors of all ages — boating, fishing, camping, canoeing, hiking, picnicking, playgrounds and, of course, swimming in the wave pool, as well as an ecosystem that offers you the chance to spot plants, trees and wildlife from both swamps and marshland.

Just about everywhere you go at Grand Isle or Bayou Segnette you are on the water, including canals, cuts, bayous and the Gulf of Mexico.

Both salt and freshwater fishing are available because of the park’s unique location. From the boat launch, you may explore many areas not readily accessible by overland routes. Catches of bass, catfish, bream, perch, redfish and trout are common in the area.

On land, picnic areas are available for the whole family, and the playgrounds will delight the children. Group shelters are also a perfect spot for large groups to gather.

While it is a little late in the year to splash the day away in Bayou Segnette’s popular wave pool, it is open during the warmer months of the year. Bayou Segnette also opened 16 new floating cabins in late 2016 that are a unique place to stay. The floating cabins, situated on the canal adjacent to Bayou Segnette, include two bedrooms, a full kitchen, living/dining area, and a screened-in porch overlooking the canal. Aluminum walkways surrounding each cabin provide opportunity for casual fishing, complete with an attached cleaning station.

About Kinny Haddox 595 Articles
Kinny Haddox has been writing magazine and newspaper articles about the outdoors in Louisiana for 45 years. He publishes a daily website, lakedarbonnelife.com and is a member of the Louisiana Chapter of the Outdoor Legends Hall of Fame. He and his wife, DiAnne, live in West Monroe.