Monday, January 19, 2015

Grand Isle, Louisiana

Last week Ruoxi had a conference in New Orleans, and I obliged her request to join her for a short vacation once she was finished. I hoped to find Rio Grande cichlid, blue tilapia, or some brackish micros in the urban ponds and canals in New Orleans. I spent half a day in City Park and Louis Armstrong Park but couldn't find a single fish, so I'll skip ahead to our excursion to Grand Isle.

Grand Isle is on the Gulf of Mexico two hours south of New Orleans. The drive down was scenic - brackish backwaters, shrimp boats, and houses on stilts. After dinner I dropped Ruoxi off at our motel and went to the marina to buy bait. I picked up a bag of frozen shrimp and took one of my travel rods out on the pier to fish for a few minutes before Ruoxi noticed I was still gone. I dropped down a sabiki rig baited with shrimp and right away caught a new lifer, a silver perch.

Silver Perch (Bairdiella chrysoura) - new hook & line species #261

The next morning I let Ruoxi sleep in and went out again. For an hour or two I was the only person on the pier.  It was low tide, so I wasn't expecting the fishing to be great.  The tide would be rising all day, so I expected it to pick up before long.

I put whole shrimp on #4 circle hooks and let them sit on the bottom with my two travel rods. They didn't get any bites. I baited up a sabiki on my micro rod. It didn't get any bites.

Mid-morning two guys showed up with heavy gear. They used cut mullet for bait and cast their rigs out about 50 yards to where a channel was cut for boats entering and leaving the marina. They ended up catching two big black drum back to back. After an hour or two of no bites they packed up, leaving me their leftover mullet. I tried cut mullet for a while, but I couldn't cast my rigs to the channel and didn't get any bites.

Black Drum (Pogonias cromis)

Ruoxi and I took a break for lunch, walked around the state park at the other end of the island, and then headed back to the same pier. We used shrimp again. After several hours of no bites, I finally saw my micro rod twitch, picked it up, and felt a fish on! The group next to us had a net with a telescoping handle and helped us land the fish. It was a sheepshead, a new lifer, and a pretty good sized one at that!

Sheepshead (Archosargus probatocephalus) - new hook & line species #262

The guy fishing on the other side of us caught an interesting fish. He had a pretty heavy rig with a wire leader but didn't expect this little eel to swallow his hook and bait whole. I hope my photos are good enough to ID it.  I'll come back and edit this post if I can figure out what it is.

Shrimp Eel (Ophichthus gomesii)

It was a slow day of fishing, but Ruoxi and I enjoyed our time in Grand Isle. South Louisiana is an interesting part of the country, and I'm glad I got a chance to see it.  I hope you enjoyed our report!