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LIP GRIPPER [DEST I NATION] THE CHANDELEUR ISLANDS T


NON-STOP ACTION IN A VANISHING NATURAL TREASURE BY JOSE CHAVEZ


he Chandeleurs. This necklace of frail barrier islands stands bravely isolated


40 miles east of the Mississippi delta, a shrinking national treasure that’s suf- fered many hardships. Protected as the Breton National Wildlife Refuge, the isles were scoured by the storm surges of Hurricane Katrina in 2005, then further insulted in 2010 by BP’s spilled oil. Although much reduced in size and perhaps living on borrowed time, the remote islands still somehow house a vibrant ecosystem and near-virgin fish- ery. Even on a slow day, your arms will wear out before the specks, redfish, black drum and flounder give up. Too far offshore to reach by paddle, kayakers can only come this way via mothership. The trip aboard Chande- leur Charters’ 65-foot trawler Double Trouble takes four relaxing hours, time best idled away with friends on the front deck, cold brews in hand and old fish stories on the wind. The morning lights up the sawgrass shoreline and showers sunshine on the pelicans that pepper the beach. Step into your kayak; it’s time to fish. Summon speckled trout out of the turtle grass into the once again gin-clear water where you can see the action as it happens. Beckoned by dozens of waving tails, take your pick between the plump redfish and black drum that scour the rich tidal flats for their next meal. The day done, head back to the moth- ership for a warm shower, southern cook- ing, cold beer and good company. You won’t need a vacation from this vacation.


CHART YOUR COURSE


Chandeleur Charters, Biloxi, Mississippi: There’s room for six kayaks and up to 12 friends aboard the Double Trouble. A typical two-and-a-half-day trip averages $525 per person; www. chandeleurcharters.com.


BEST MONTHS April and May


BEST BAITS


ABOVE: AN ANGLER MOMENTARILY RESTS RUBBER ARMS AFTER CATCHING A SCHOOL-SIZED SPECKLED TROUT IN FRONT OF ONE OF THE SAND SPECKS THAT PASS FOR ISLANDS AT THE CHANDELEURS. RIGHT: SAYING HELLO TO A BLACK DRUM (TOP); THE DOUBLE TROUBLE, A KAYAKER’S COMFORTABLE HOME AWAY


FROM HOME (BOTTOM). PHOTOS: JOSE CHAVEZ


26 …KAYAK ANGLER SPRING 2012


Key Lime D.O.A. C.A.L. shad tails threaded on 1/16th-ounce Owner Twistlock hooks; Aqua Dream Living ADL Weedless Spoons; Yo- Zuri Sashimi Slider topwater.


DON’T MISS


The sunrise and sundown topwater trout bite.


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