Kayak fishing out of Grand Isle, Louisiana.
Chris Holmes

Grand Isle: Louisiana’s Fishing Paradise

There is no shortage of prime kayak fishing areas across the Louisiana coast, but if you could choose only one, Grand Isle is your best bet.

Louisiana’s only inhabited barrier island is a fishing paradise and kayak-friendly community. The island is small, about eight square miles. However, it fishes big.

The southern shore is a hard sand beach directly on the Gulf of Mexico. When surf conditions allow, access to the beach is made over a sand-berm levee at several public access points across the island. Getting the kayaks and gear to the water can be a bit strenuous, but the fishing can be epic. Small rock jetties dot the shoreline and are prime spots to target speckled trout (spotted seatrout) and redfish in the early morning.

In general, kayak fishing occurs on the northern, bayside of the island. Great fishing abounds at the numerous marsh islands, rock jetty structures and an artificial reef. The reef sits a short paddle away from the public kayak launch at the end of Ludwig Lane and is marked by signs and PVC poles. Hopping from island to island provides virtually unlimited fishing, protected from all but the harshest weather conditions.

Catching fish from a kayak in Grand Isle, Louisiana

Grand Isle kayak fishing success.

Kayak fishing for redfish in Grand Isle, Louisiana

Tame the "bull" redfish.

Kayak fishing for redfish and speckled trout off Grand Isle, Louisiana.

Kayak fishing in Grand Isle.

Ride the Bull kayak fishing tournament, Grand Isle, Louisiana.

Ride the Bull fishing tournament in Grand Isle.

Both ends of the island have passes that flow directly to the Gulf — Caminada to the west and Barataria to the east. Barataria pass sees a lot of large marine and commercial fishing vessels working to support the offshore oil and gas industry and trawling for shrimp. The volume of boat traffic, along with strong currents often make dangerous for kayak use and caution should be exercised.

However, Caminada pass offers excellent kayak angling along the bridge to the island, rock jetty shorelines and access across the pass to Elmer’s Island which is known for big trout and reds along its beach.

If it’s bull redfish you’re after, the pass is your ticket with fish in the 30-to-40-inch range regularly caught. Locally termed a “Cajun sleigh ride,” being towed around by a giant bull redfish is a bucket-list experience for any kayak angler. These bronze-brutes are hard-fighting and provide great sport. 

Ride the Bull: Kayak Fishing

The popularity of the Cajun sleigh ride spawned Grand Isle’s own “Ride the Bull,” the world’s largest kayak fishing tournament. Each August, more than 700 kayak anglers travel to the island from across the country and beyond. Kayakers compete to catch the heaviest fish, and the event allows the Department of Wildlife and Fisheries to gain valuable research on the species.

Where to Stay in Grand Isle

Lodging, food, and tackle are available throughout the island. From single rooms to elaborate camps, a kayak adventure to Grand Isle is easy to plan. The Grand Isle State Park offers primitive beach tent camping on the shores of the Gulf and nearby improved sites for tents, campers and RVs. Explore nearby nature trails, large fishing and crabbing piers and an observation tower overlooking the Gulf of Mexico. Salty air, sandy beaches and unsurpassed coastal scenery make Grand Isle State Park a unique camping experience.

Louisiana fishing is legendary, and kayaking angling around Grand Isle provides opportunities to catch redfish, spotted sea trout, flounder, black drum, sheepshead, Jack crevalle, Spanish mackerel and sharks. 

Grand Isle promises friendly folks, hungry fish and a community that welcomes kayak fishermen. If you want to experience the best that Louisiana has to offer, give this island a try.

Grand Isle travel and kayak fishing resources:

The Town of Grand Isle

Grand Isle State Park 

Bridgeside Grand Isle

Grand Isle Marina 

CCA of Louisiana 

Bayou Coast Kayak Fishing Club

Chris Holmes is an outdoor writer and avid kayak fisherman based in Chalmette, Louisiana. He is a field reporter for Louisiana Sportsman magazine.

Learn more about Louisiana fishing and fishing licenses through our Fishing Resources page.