main image courtesy of T. Baker Smith

By Kia Singleton

After the 1856 hurricane that destroyed the resort of Isle Derniere, all that was left on the island were seabirds. Over time, the remainder of the island was separated into five smaller islands known as the Isle Dernieres Barrier Islands. These barrier islands are Wine Island, East Island, Whiskey Island, Raccoon Island, and Trinity Island.

Now owned by the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, the islands are mostly protected space for waterbird nesting. But a portion of Trinity Island, the island farthest east of the Isles Dernieres chain, is accessible for public use. People can picnic, fish, camp overnight, and bird watch in permitted areas, according to the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries.

While the activities on the island are restricted, the waters surrounding the barrier island refuge are a popular recreational fishing destination. Mr. Lance Schouest, also known as Captain Coon, is a Tour and Fishing Guide at the Tradewinds of Cocodrie, which is a marina and lodge northeast of the Isle Dernieres Barrier Island Refuge.

During a phone interview, Schouest said, “It’s a pleasure to see people catching fish and seeing the enjoyment on their faces, and that makes getting up at 4:30 in the morning to work in the heat worth it.” He also explained that he takes all his customers to areas where the fish are most active. He said, “The fish are always biting.”

Trinity Island has more human activity than any of the other barrier islands. On Trinity Island, people can travel by foot or by bicycle. The use of ATVs or other vehicles with engines or electric motors are not allowed on the island. Firearms, fireworks, and explosives in the public area are not allowed. To utilize the public area, a visitor must have a portable waste disposal container for human waste. This means there are no restrooms on the island.

No one can disturb, injure, or collect plants and animals. Fishing from boats is allowed as well as wade fishing in surf areas. Boat traffic is allowed in open waters, like gulfs or bays, and within the California Canal. However, no boat traffic is allowed in any other man-made or natural waterways that extend into the inside of the island. Boat traffic is also not allowed in land-locked open waters or wetlands.

Captain Paul Titus created a GPS tool with coordinates for fishing spots near these barrier islands. These spots are called waypoints. According to an article from LouisianaSportsman.com, “Captain Paul’s Fishing Edge of GPS Waypoints of the Cocodrie-Dulac area is located from Point au Fer Island, Four League Bay to the east of Cocodrie from the Gulf of Mexico by Isle Dernieres to Lake De Cade by Bayou DuLarge.”

This is the southern part of Terrebonne Parish. A location between Whiskey and Raccoon Islands is known for being a great fishing spot; the coordinates are 29 degrees 02.9948’ N. Latitude and 90 degrees 52.7825’ W. Longitude.

There is also a U.S. Geological Survey Benchmark for “Coon Point”. At one time, this was western part of Raccoon Island. The coordinates for Coon Point are 29 degrees 03.5490’ N. Latitude and 90 degrees 57.6655 W. Longitude.

Between Trinity and East Islands is a waypoint with deeper waters than any other locations in the area. The coordinates are 29 degrees 03.7278’ N. Latitude and 90 degrees 41.5423’ W. Longitude.

A location known as “Horseshoe Reef” is said to be a popular summer destination. It is in the northwest part of Trinity Island, which is east of Whiskey Pass. The mouth of the cove at Horseshoe Reef coordinates are about 29 degrees 03.395’ N. Latitude and 90 degrees 44.521’ W. Longitude.

Trinity and Raccoons Islands are more accessible than Whiskey, East, and Wine Islands because of the bird habitats, the designated public areas, and the abundance of fish. Most of these areas are occupied simply by fishermen. If someone would want to spend time on the barrier islands, filing the correct paperwork with the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries is imperative.

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ISLAND FUN

check out the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries for more information on access to Isles Dernières.

ISLAND ACTIVITIES

  • birding
  • picnicking
  • fishing
  • overnight camping