Being good at fishing in Louisiana means understanding the lay of the land, how things once were and why they came to be.
It’s what I do. I get to hear their successes, failures, passions and fears. Almost all inshore anglers voice the same concern: accidentally running aground in their boat.
For me, the concern is somewhat trivial; my boat is relatively slow when cruising at 23-25mph.
If I do hit something, it’s really not that bad.
It’s not the same as hitting something at 50, 60 or even 70mph. At those speeds running aground can be catastrophic. Also, because I run an aluminum flatboat, she can run “skinny” water with ease to bang that U-turn before it gets worse.
Not to mention I’m a grown, red-blooded American man. I have run my boat clean onto sandbars and into mud. Pulling her out with my own strength isn’t incredibly difficult. Mishaps here and there are affordable.
Being 31 helps, too.
However, some people aren’t 31. Most run boats much heavier than mine. Last but not least, not everyone wants to jump in the water! There’s all kinds of crazy critters from alligators to sharks to stingrays. Not to mention that evil flesh-eating bacteria.
Louisiana’s coastal marshes are rife with shallow water, but it seems that Delacroix comes up the most. As it should! This is because Delacroix went through a catastrophic makeover during Katrina. The marsh from Bayou Terre aux Boeufs to the Mississippi River suffered in a way other marshes did not.
When Hurricane Katrina rolled through in 2005, she relocated vast swaths of the marsh. Quite literally, a layer of topsoil and grass was rolled up like a carpet and thrown down somewhere else, where it died. This ripped-up grass is referred to as “marsh wrack”.
You can also see the difference between the Delacroix marsh before and after Katrina in this video I made awhile back.
If it’s not already obvious, the hazard lies within water that deceivingly looks deep enough to run your boat in. The boundaries of navigable bodies of water are no longer easily seen by a shoreline. It is really easy to make a wrong turn and run into shallow water that used to be land.
I have a trick up my sleeve. Break out your computer because it’s….
Nothing beats experience, but there is a solution you can use. This solution is great because it works even if you have never been to Delacroix!
The key is historical imagery in Google Earth. In case you’re not familiar with it, Google Earth is an excellent tool for exploring and navigating the marsh. I highly recommend you read my article on how to create custom GPS routes.
With Google Earth you can “go back in time” to view satellite imagery of the past. This way we can see where the actual shoreline is and create routes based on that information. Then you can follow that route to give you a baseline as to what is navigable and what is not.
How do we get from Sweetwater Marina to Little Lake? Seeing so much of the land around Bayou Gentilly was converted to open, shallow water by hurricanes there is a good chance someone who is new to the area may run aground.
NOTE: The screenshot depicted here is a screenshot of the Google Earth program, just in case you have never seen it.
This is an easy problem to solve. In Google Earth I can roll back to 1999, well before Hurricane Katrina struck. There I can see the actual shoreline of Bayou Gentilly and create a route to navigate my boat down. For more info on how to do this, please click here.
Now I can scroll back to the most recent satellite imagery and see where it is I must drive my boat to avoid getting stuck.
Using the Custom Route Tutorial I linked to earlier, I can take this route off of Google Earth and upload it into my GPS. Then I am ready to rock and roll!
Pretty slick, huh?
This trick works in other places that also have shallow water due to hurricane damage. However, it’s not completely fool-proof. It’s still up to you to take responsibility for yourself and anyone riding with you. Honestly, it’s best to go slow in new areas. Use common sense and be cautious.
This isn’t bowling. It’s inshore fishing. There are no gutter guards and you can’t reset the game if things go awry.
This is only one of many ways I use Google Earth to my advantage. There’s more this resource has to offer! That knowledge is what I teach in my class, Inshore Fishing 101.
Inshore Fishing 101 is a course I designed and built, from scratch, for anglers to establish a solid foundation in inshore fishing. It is that foundation I build all of my other skill sets off of. The course comes with a lifetime subscription and updated content is free!
“A must have for the newbie inshore angler. The Google Earth stuff is worth the price of admission.”
Of course, there is more than navigational knowledge in Inshore Fishing 101. Everything else you need is included in the course. This includes items like knot tying, how to effectively fish each location, which bait to use and more.
Inshore Fishing 101 also comes with instructor support. If you have a question or need clarification, I am there to help you out.
Think about it, for the price of a fishing rod you get the expertise of a former charter captain and tournament angler.
Want to step up your game? Click the button below.
Devin is a Marine veteran of the Iraq War, entrepreneur and a hardcore inshore angler who enjoys chasing limits of specks and sight fishing redfish.