The Marsh Rat

Chad Billiot picked one of the most unusual names conceivable for his Golden Meadow business — Marsh Rat Guide Service (985-637-5058).

When asked about the name, Billiot shrugged his shoulders and, with an irrepressible beam on his face, explained.

“Cause everybody calls me the Marsh Rat,” he said.

Billiot was raised in Golden Meadow, and his high cheek bones, jet-black hair, black eyes and bronze-burnished brown skin give away his American Indian background.

“I am pure Indian on both sides — Houma Indian,” he said. “I am proud of what I am, but I don’t make an issue of it.

“My father grew up in an Indian settlement in lower Golden Meadow. There are still a number of Indians there, and I have ancestors buried in the graveyard.”

The Marsh Rat started guiding at age 17 in what he described as a “leaky aluminum boat borrowed from Dad.”

At the end of the trip, the fisherman asked Billiot how much. He said $150. He gave the youngster $300 and said, “You are too cheap.”

Billiot never looked back.

“This is the only job I ever had,” the 41-year-old said.

His specialty is light-tackle speckled trout and redfishing. He fishes interior marshes and as far out as 50 miles offshore on his own, but holds the permits necessary for offshore fishing.

Then he partners up with Ed Freaky of Tuna Time Charters.

“I do a lot of fly fishing charters, too,” Billiot said. “Fly fishermen like to go for the challenge of the cast. Most of my fly fishing clientele is from out of state. Almost none of them want to keep a fish; it’s all about perfectly presenting the fly.

“The great part about fishing out of Fourchon is that we have numerous platforms — a real grab bag of places to fish. It’s an untapped resource. There are easily 100 rigs within a 9-mile radius. And they all have some kind of fish on them.”

Billiot is entertaining on a boat. His huge, toothy smile seldom leaves his face, and he belts out a rapid-fire chatter. He can get more words in a minute than any auctioneer, and he punctuates every sentence with generous hand movements.

And his dedication to fishing is obvious in what he does when he isn’t professionally guiding: He is a bass tournament fisherman.

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.