Four years ago we were camped at Grand Isle State Park as the Deep Water Horizon exploded and caught on fire. Soon afterward the skies darkened and rain fell on us and our camper, covering the rig with small black spots from the raging fires and the fires set by the Coast Guard as they attempted to burn off the gushing oil.
The wind changed and so we kept on doing the things we always do here, fishing, birding, and beach walking. We didn’t understand the magnitude of the disaster or the changes that would take place. No one, except BP realized how much oil was being released and the effect it would have on the sea life and birds.
It’s been four years since the spill and Gary was taking us on aboard his fishing boat for a day of fishing and, for me anyway, I day in which I hoped to see some positive signs of nature rebounding. The waters were choppy at first before the wind died and the seas smoothed out allowing us an easy day to circle all the familiar places.
Launching the boat we first went to Bird Island where we saw brown pelicans using their familiar rookery. From there we fished some gas and oil platforms and while the fishing is always great the catching was only ok as Gary and Dave landed some nice sheephead for a meal.
Next was Beauregard Island and everywhere we went we didn’t see the stained plants and rocks once covered with sludge. The water clarity wasn’t the best but it wasn’t from the spill but from the muddy bottom, the result of winds and waves from a passing cold front. We didn’t catch any speckled trout, (which was what we were after), but we did see another boat land one keeper.
The seas went flat and crossing to Grand Tere we fished a cut where I saw the best sign of recovery. An oyster catcher was nesting on a sandbar and the biggest danger to her and her mate was a flock of American white ibis that landed and pushed her off her nest.
A least tern flew by and dolphins were everywhere, feeding on the schools of mullet. Dave caught a keeper red and Gary had one on, but no matter what I did my offerings were only bothered by small fish and hard head catfish.
A dark stain that resembled oil marred the beach but Gary said it looked to him like it was only small dark broken pieces of vegetation and wood. We didn’t land to check it out as we didn’t want to disturb the birds. No matter really as it was so good to see the birds were returning.
We circled the island and motored past the never occupied fort. One of the biggest surprises of the day was how much of Grand Tere had disappeared into the sea. Water was lapping at the pillars of logs that supported the old fishery research station. It has been replaced by the new facility on Grand Isle and that was a wise decision as the sea will soon reclaim the old buildings.
We fished a couple more places during which the tide went slack and so did our lines. A slack tide is usually poor catching and the fish quit biting. It didn’t matter really as it had been a fun day of fishing and more importantly a day in which we didn’t see evidence of the mammoth spill. Thank you Gary for the fine day! Clear skies