Louisiana’s Timbalier Bay
an angler’s nighttime oil rig fishing paradise!
Find out where, when, and how to fish Louisiana’s Timbalier Bay.
According to a survey taken by the Louisiana Conservation Magazine,Timbalier Island and its bays rate the most productive for speckled trout out of all the other US states along the Gulf of Mexico combined.
What makes this area so productive is not exactly known, but one contributing factor is the many estuaries that lay to the west,north, and east that nurture the bays.
East Timbalier Island, Timbalier Island, and Last Island (further west) are the main sheltering land masses that form a barrier to the Gulf of Mexico. The marsh areas surrounding Timbalier Bay and Terrebonne Bay are considered main nursery grounds for shrimp and many other types of fin fish which find their way to and from the Gulf on strong moving tides.
At one time this area was notable for its nighttime flare fishing thanks to the oil and gas companies,but nowadays most of the flares are not in operation. So, anglers now resort to fishing the vapor lights that dot the many rig structures throughout the bays and interior of East Timbalier Island.
On a bright,sunny day–if you can ignore the industrialization–the area closely resembles a tropical paradise,but at night the scene changes into a brightly lighted city which can be seen form miles around. Many of the the catwalk-linked rig installations,some of which are literally several blocks in length, are abandoned but act like fish-attracting reefs.
This fishing paradise is easily accessed via the public launch located at Pass Fourchon. Access to the backside of East Timbalier Island can be made from Bayou Lafourche traveling north, then left at the Havoline Canal.Markers mark the way out into Timbalier Bay where the Havoline Canal joins it, and it is important to follow these markers up till the last one to avoid hitting a sandbar.
After leaving the last marker and heading south, you will see the first tank battery–grayish cylinder tanks atop a concert,bargelike platform. This particular installation will be the second tank battery from the back side of East Timbalier Island. Four vapor lights run along the bridged section of this structure, and at night speckled trout and white trout gang up under these lights near the catwalk piling supports.Anglers fishing these structures make their best catches during the longest moving tides, either incoming or outgoing.
Night fishing the bay gives anglers more than one advantage: besides beating the daytime heat, fish are more concentrated, and there’s less anglers out on the water to contend with.
Naturally,like with any trip to open water, it is advantageous to check the weather forecast beforehand since Timbalier Bay is a large, shallow body of water averaging four to eight feet in depth. Bays of such like depths are prone to getting really rough if the winds exceed 15 mph. This would be of more concern,no doubt,to those with smaller boats.
For comfort and better fishing, it’s best to choose a night with light winds. Winds that blow too hard and too long will of course make the water murky and the fish harder to catch. This, however, doesn’t mean you cannot find a good alternative fishing spot if the winds are too high. You just have to know where to look. For example,some lighted installations that are less effected by the wind are those located on the backside and within East Timbalier Island, and access can be made via the island’s service canal.
However, caution is needed when maneuvering about the backside of the island and near some of the tank batteries.Here is where sporadically low-lying pipes and gas valves make it necessary to use a spot light– even if you happen to have radar.Obviously, you want to avoid running over one of these barnacle-covered protrusions. Besides this, there are many pilings that mark the entrance into the backside of the island, some of which are devoid of lights or reflectors.
Moving about within East Timbalier Island can be easy, if you use the service canal that runs along the backside of its length(some branch of into the interior). Oil companies dug these canals to allow easy access to the rig installations. Besides the tank battery aforementioned, there are other good night fishing spots located inside the island. One in particular is the installation located on the west end section along the south side of the canal.
All of these structures have lights on them but look for the ones that make for the best fishing. These would be the ones that are rectangular in shape and point down toward the water.
You can enter the service canal along side of the island by following the marked pilings located at each end of the island, as well as at some marked points in between. Keep in mind that the canal isn’t as well defined as it once was due to recent hurricanes which washed out some of the sections along the route. A rock barrier located on the gulf side also has various sections washed out that enter into the island and canal at certain sections. These are not passable either in or out to the gulf.
The first tank battery, located on the west end side of East Timbalier Island, has a vapor light on its corner. This rig is a very productive fishing spot. White trout, speckled trout, and redfish can be caught by free lining cocahoe minnow lures. The preferred colors are chartreuse/red tail with silver glitter or black back and chartreuse with silver glitter on ¼ oz.jig heads.
Located a few hundred yards farther down from the first tank battery are four other structures with lights, but these have smaller lights and don’t produce as consistently. Nevertheless, don’t rule them out; there are occasions when the larger specks prefer a more subdued lighting like this.
Another hot spot, located between East Timbalier and Timbalier Island, is the Union Cal 76 rig–identified by its bright lights and tall tower. However,you will not be able to make a straight run from East Timbalier Island’s west side to this rig, due to the fact that a shallow sand bar is located between them. To avoid running aground, you’ll have to travel northwest for about 10 minutes at 20 mph and then southwest to the rig.
This rig is located just inside the sand bar that is part of the eastern tip of Timbalier Island. If the wind is southerly, you can see the waves breaking over it. The brightest lights are located on the south side of the rig.
Other areas that also produce very good catches of trout at night are nearby Terrebonne Bay and Lake Pelto, but these areas are best accessed from Cocodrie.
East Timbalier Island & Timbalier Bay: These islands offer night fishing anglers a variety of lighted rig structures to fish.
Speckled Trout: Often hang around the lighted areas of the tank batteries and rig structures.