Even though Louisiana has a vast coast line, we have comparatively very few surf fishing opportunities.
That’s the result of having very soft-bottomed marsh as opposed to hard sandy beaches in Texas and the rest of the Gulf Coast states. We in Louisianan are pretty much limited to the barrier islands like Chandeleur, Grand Isle and Fourchon.
Another is Timbalier Island, which is located west of Grand Isle and accessible by boat from there, Leeville or Cocodrie. You might be surprised that the quickest route is the one we took from Lafitte!
It's a 28-minute run from Bourgeois Charters in Lafitte. That’s because we traveled by seaplane. You see, not only is Captain Theophile Bourgeois a licensed charter guide, but he’s also a licensed pilot. Although it has limited storage for rods, reels, tackle and one small ice chest, his 4-seater has more room for the fish in the twin pontoons than anything else.
Once the plane sets down and is moored in place, anglers immediately start casting lures under feeding birds and big schools of mullets and other bait fish.
There’s no using cumbersome live bait. It’s strictly a game of artificials but that’s all you need. We fished exclusively with topwaters which are very effective for specks and redfish, but soft plastics will draw even more strikes.
There’s some specialized gear required like wading belts with pole holders and pockets for other gadgets like a landing net, pliers, spare baits, etc. A stringer with a float to keep the fish is also a must.
There are some hazards associated with surf fishing including being wary of sharks getting a little too close to the fish stringer, stepping on stingrays or in surprise holes and, last but not least, carefully avoiding hooks when removing a struggling fish in its own element.
Wading shoes made for the job are critical.
Sunglasses and clothing that will shade out brutal rays of the sun and dry quickly will make this peaceful way to fish more enjoyable.
The best surf fishing at Timbalier seems to be on a strong incoming tide.
“Speckled trout here seem to be more plentiful but smaller than those in Breton, Chandeleur and Goshier Islands to the east,” Bourgeois said. "I know it’s a long run by boat here and that’s why the short flight is so appealing. It also gives me the flexibility to fish either the islands to the east that are 32 minutes away or here, which is a little shorter. That way when the water might be dirty in one spot, I have the option to fish the other.”
Not only is this a convenient and unique method to fish, the opportunity to view the south Louisiana coast from a birds-eye view is worth the trip. Bourgeois also says for groups up to 12 passengers, he has other planes available.