Chandeleur Islands Bucket List Fishing Trip

Chandeleur Islands Bucket List Fishing Trip

Ever since I was a youngster I can remember reading and hearing tales of fishing adventures at the Chandeleur Islands. At the time I didn’t know much about them; wasn’t even sure where they were, but if the fishing could live up to its reputation I knew I wanted to go. Fast forward to the present and I’m happy to say the stories were true, and not a word of exaggeration.

Earlier this year a good buddy decided it was time to take the plunge and get married. As we all celebrated the news, we talked about what he might want for his bachelor party. He threw out the idea of organizing a mothership excursion to the Chandeleur Islands and, being avid fishermen, we all readily agreed it would be a fun trip to a bucket list destination. Everybody pitched in to do some research on available charter services and ended up booking with Sunrise Sportfishing.

A few months passed and we were finally headed east to Point Cadet Marina at Biloxi, Mississippi. Checking in, we grabbed our gear and were welcomed on board the Macie Ann by the captain and his deckhand. The guys were immediately accommodating and showed us around the boat as they got a few last minute items tidied up. As the sun was starting to set, they informed us that we could hang out on the boat, look around Biloxi and grab dinner, or whatever we would like. They would be back at midnight and the boat would be leaving to the Chandeleur Islands. Right on cue, the crew arrived and at midnight we exited the marina and began our three hour ride across Mississippi Sound to the Islands.

Naturally, as most first day fishing efforts go, we were all up early and excited to hit the water. The crew was up well before us and had coffee and breakfast ready. While we ate they unloaded the skiffs from atop the mothership, fueled them up and had us a cooler iced down with drinks, ready to go. We discussed fishing options with the captain and he pointed us in a direction with instructions to look for grass flats and keep moving until we find some fish. Pretty basic stuff, so we all jumped in our skiffs and took off to explore in our own directions.

My buddy Stu and I have fished many days together and it seemed logical to pair up and begin our day by checking out the captain’s game plan. A short boat ride took us into the back of a protected cove where the wind direction would allow making a long drift along the shoreline. The water was almost gin-clear across a huge grass flat that seemed endless, prettier even than the picture I had imagined in my head. I started off throwing a Johnson Silver Minnow spoon and Stu had a Down South plastic tied on. It didn’t take long until we doubled up with a pair of really nice reds, obviously having found a school. We got on the VHF radio and had to rub it in to our buddies, being that we were already up and leading with the most fish.

We continued on and picked up a few more reds and a handful of trout while sticking to the same program of making long drifts across the grassy flats. Along the way we ran into the other skiffs of our buddies and learned they had some trout in the box as well. Around midday we headed back to get some air conditioning and lunch.

As had been announced, the mothership crew were in the process of getting food ready when we arrived back to the Macie Ann. As we enjoyed our lunch they went to work on our skiffs again, unloaded our catch, refilled the fuel tanks, and iced more drinks. Following lunch we discussed what our next move was going to be and I had the idea to make a run to the far tip of the island and fish my way back.

After quite a long run, Stu and I noticed a few birds hitting the water and decided to check them out. I threw a topwater into the middle of them and instantly had a huge blowup. No small fish, after a long fight I reeled in a really nice jack crevalle. We continued on and found another nice flat and spotted a few redfish but didn’t have any takers. With the afternoon heat kicking in we got on the radio and called everyone over to a nice sand flat we’d found and decided to get out, enjoy a few drinks, and cool off a bit. We waited until well into the afternoon to try fishing again and the group picked up a few trout right around dark. When we made it back to the mothership to find the captain and deck hand preparing to grill steaks. After a hearty meal and a long day of fishing, early bedtime was inevitable.

We were up the next morning, not quite as early as the day before, and as promised, the coffee was ready and breakfast was waiting. A couple of our guys decided to sleep late, so Seth and I paired up and fished together. Believing fish could be found just about anywhere, we headed the opposite direction from the day before, mostly for a look at different parts of the island chain.

It didn’t take but a few minutes into our first drift and Seth’s popping cork disappeared. He set the hook and as the fish turned sideways, so did about thirty other nice reds. Excited to get into them, I completely fumbled my first cast and ended with a terrible tangle, too much to mess with at that moment. I exchanged it for another and quickly hooked up. The fight was on and we landed a pair of upper-slot reds. Copper-colored and just as pretty as could be.

Once again we got on the radio to pass the word, but come to find out one of our other buddies was on a nearby flat with plenty of trout. A quick decision was made and we headed that way to join his drift with hopes to pick up a few trout. After making several passes and enjoying plenty of action we decided to find another sandbar. Time to cool off and enjoy our last evening in the Chandeleur Islands. With the sun sinking in the west, we made our way back to the Macie Ann for a lovely dinner of fried fish from the previous day’s catch. It just doesn’t get any better than that!

Overall, the trip was an amazing experience and everything I could have expected. The Chandeleur Islands is truly a unique place, one that I believe every angler should visit at some point during their career. While the Islands have their own beauty and the fishing experience was all anybody could wish for, I must add that the service we received while on this trip was every bit as enjoyable. The accommodations aboard the Macey Ann were first-class, we ate well at every setting, our catch was expertly cleaned and packaged, and the crew were kind and attentive to our every need. Our only chore was to go out and catch fish. I can’t say enough good about the whole experience and I am certainly looking forward to making a return visit.