Explore the Water in Louisiana
The Atchafalaya Basin, located to the south, is a most-frequented haunt. There is enough bass, bream and crappie fish in Bayou Pigeon and Grand Lake, to delight every fisherman who comes across its almost 600,000-acre wilderness. Canoeing or merely idling a boat allows ample opportunities to watch alligators, herons, kingfishers and other wildlife in a natural, pristine setting.
For a unique swamp experience, visit White Kitchen Preserve in Slidell. Within the Pearl River Basin, one of the Southeast’s last remaining overflow swamp systems, the preserve boasts a boardwalk over the marsh, and swamp boat tours provide a different perspective. Birds that reside and migrate here include red-bellied woodpeckers, herons and barred owls. A bald eagle’s nest has been in the preserve for more than 80 years.
Those of you who are serious birders might also opt for the Cypress Island Preserve’s rookery 30 miles southwest of New Iberia or Sam Houston Jones State Park, just north of Lake Charles, where nearly 200 species of birds can be seen within a 30-mile radius of the park.
To the southeast of New Iberia lies Terrebonne Parish, where vast stretches of cypress swamps give way to marshes. There are many wildlife-viewing tours in the area, but Ron “Black” Guidry of Cajun Man’s Swamp Cruise puts on a real show.
To provide an up-close experience, Black performs feedings that draw alligators boatside as he discusses the ecosystem of coastal Louisiana. However, it’s when he steers Cajun Man, a fully covered deck boat, under the cypress trees and cuts the motors that the real act begins. Black pulls out a guitar and an accordion and sings a selection of old standards and Cajun music that echoes through the woods. It’s amazing to listen as he seamlessly switches between English and Cajun French.
In Grand Isle it’s almost always time to fish. Favourite ports of call Bridge Side Marina, Caminada Pass and Barataria Bay are just a few minutes away by boat, and both offer anglers ample opportunities to wrestle with redfish, black drum, speckled trout, flounder and even sharks.