“Louisiana has, by far, the most bountiful waters in the lower 48 states,” says Captain Daryl Carpenter, owner of Reel Screamers Guide Service in Grand Isle and president of the Louisiana Charter Boat Association.
“The tremendous brackish water estuaries that we have across the state form the most fertile breeding ground for the fish and the prey that they eat. The thousands of oil platforms in the Gulf make for the best manmade reefs and house countless numbers of fish that other places only wish they had.”
To make the most of your Louisiana saltwater fishing adventure, consider hiring a licensed charter guide, like Carpenter, who knows the locations of local reefs and wrecks as well as where the fish are and what they’re biting.
You’ll also want to decide on an inshore or offshore fishing excursion, and both can be found all along the coast, in spots like Lake Charles, Cocodrie, Grand Isle and Venice.
Inshore fishing trips along the coastal areas and marshes typically mean catches of speckled trout, redfish and flounder.
A popular spot for inshore fishing in southwest Louisiana is Lake Calcasieu in Lake Charles, home to Captain Mary Poe of Big Lake Guide Service, which offers inland and Gulf trips, plus lodging and meals for their guests.
“Calcasieu is known as one of the premier destinations for trophy trout in Louisiana, if not the premier destination,” says Poe. “We have quality fish year-round in our area, but if you are traveling a great distance to fish, May through December is the time to come, as the weather is more predictable.”
To the east, Captain Stu Sheer of Cocodrie Inside Charters is the longest-running charter boat operator on the Louisiana coast and the only captain in the Louisiana Outdoor Hall of Fame.
For 40 years, he’s been guiding trips around Chauvin, and he says it’s not just our prolific waters that draw fishermen. “Louisiana has the most liberal [bag] limits in the country,” says Sheer.
Once you head offshore, the number of species increases and so does the size of the catch. “Offshore is a whole new world,” says Carpenter. “A variety of snapper species ranging up to 30 pounds; groupers up to 300 to 400 pounds; tuna pushing the 200-pound mark; wahoo, dolphin, swordfish, marlin—you just never know what you are going to catch off Louisiana’s coast.”
In Houma, Captain Tommy Pellegrin agrees that a trip off the Louisiana coast can be, well, unlike any place else. Take, for example, a trip he made last year.
“We were filming a TV show to tell the world how good the fishing is off the Louisiana coast,” says Pellegrin, owner of Custom Charters. “We first started off fishing by one of the many shrimp boats, and we were catching cobia. Then we bartered for some very nice, extra-large shrimp from the guys on the boats. We then ventured out a little farther and caught tuna, amberjacks and almaco jacks."
“While in this area, we noticed some whale sharks and went in and videoed them under and above the water. We then came in close to shore and caught red and mangrove snapper. ... Catching all the fish you care to, swimming with whale sharks and bartering for shrimp to cook for supper. These kinds of things happen on a daily basis out in the Gulf of Mexico off the Louisiana coast.”
With liberal bag limits, waters flush with fish and some of the country’s best guides, Louisiana has been and will continue to be a draw for sportsmen.