The Chandeleur Islands were created some 4,000 years ago when the mouth of the Mississippi River discarded into the area just east of present day New Orleans. Deposits of nutrients and sediment carried by the river created an offshore paradise that stretched from the Mississippi Gulf Coast of the new Mississippi River Delta off the coast of southeast Louisiana.
Few fished these barrier islands until the early 20th century when several charter boat operations began making short runs to Ship, Cat and Petit Bois Islands. As the for-hire of “head boat” industry became more competitive in the 1930′s, some captains began making exclusive trips to this crescent shaped island chain where anglers returned with boxes and tales of monster specks and reds.
The changes to the industry and the island have been profound. gone are the Biloxi luggers that once ferried passengers to the islands. The Chandeleurs encompassed hundreds of thousands of miles. One can only imagine what it looked like on February 1, 1700 when Pierre Le Moyne Sieur d’Iberville anchored here and named the islands.
Although abbreviated by Katrina’s wrath, the remnants of the islands are still very beautiful. Mangroves and eel grass cover the sand and shell islands and exotic birds nest in the sanctuaries. Flocks of seagulls feast on shrimp and baitfish in the interior bayous and cuts. The waters are clear enough to see beds of sea grass five feet down.
Barrier islands like the Chandeleurs are dynamic entities that constantly shift, build and erode under the normal actions of winds and waves. But the great force and magnitude of Hurricane Katrina produced dramatic changes to the islands that would have otherwise taken years, maybe decades to reach. Much of the land mass has been lost, but what is left is truly paradise. And the fishing is good as it ever was.