Oil spill impact on business taken straight from ‘the horse’s mouth’

Lyle Johnson
Two couples from Florida enjoy some of Louisiana’s bountiful fishing with Captain Ryan Young.

Oh well, back to the oil spill. There’s quite enough responsibility for this (put in your own description) to go around. From the folks who caused it to those who have the responsibility to make decisions for the cleanup. Those things are about as bad as it gets with lots of work yet to go.

As bad as the above is to the folks that lost loved ones, our wetlands and our way of life for the foreseeable future; I have a little something still stuck in my craw. It’s the media coverage or lack of it as it concerns the sport fishing, commercial fishing and tourism that could be taking place right now.

Only a few days after the spill, people started canceling fishing trips with guides and rental property. Restaurant owners outside of Louisiana are having problems convincing their patrons that the Louisiana seafood they are serving is healthy to eat. It really makes a bad situation lots worse.

I made some calls this week to get some info from the “horses’ mouth” via a few folks where the action (or inaction) is taking place.

Ryan Young, owner of Avid Angler Fishing Charters, operates out of the Dularge area. “We are heading offshore in the mornings to catch specs and if we have a little time left over we’ll catch redfish on the way in.”

“Fishing is actually pretty good,” answers Young. “Bay Chovies and the Deadly Dudleys in Opening Night or Blue Moon with the chartreuse tails are providing all the action. Fishing is actually pretty good. There’s no oil in the area but our guide trips are down.”

Ryan is doing about 60 percent of his normal business. You can access all his information on his Web site at, e-mail him at  captryanyoung @ or get him on his cell phone at (985) 855-5909. The day I spoke to him, four anglers from Florida caught 82 specs on a charter trip, so give him a call to schedule a fishing trip with him; you won’t regret it.

While we’re down in Dularge, I checked in with Wendy Billiot, owner of Wetland Tours and operator of Casual Charters. Billiot also owns Camp Dularge, an 80 year old cypress house renovated to house eight people.  “Lyle, at first my rentals began to cancel at nearly a 55 percent rate because of the bad publicity. The fishing tournaments began to cancel their events and they are a lot of my renters. Ironically the Dularge area has never been shut down for fishing and Camp Dularge is back up to 65 percent of normal because people are coming here to fish because their local fishing areas are closed. But it’s still bad.”

Her wetland tours are about normal or maybe up just a little because of the publicity. Folks are not going down to see oil, just the beauty of our great marshes. Contact Wendy by phone at (985) 688-7965 or her Web site

The best way to get to know Wendy is her blog, I am a regular visitor and believe me, it’s worth the visit. Wendy is also an author, penning the child’s book “Before the Saltwater Came”. By the way, Casual Charters specializes in women’s charters and operates out of a pontoon boat.

A little closer to home, Captain Greg Schlumbrecht operates To Fish Charters in Lake Ponchatrain. I spoke to Greg by phone, “The fishing is really good right now as the specs have moved up to the bridges and it’s on! We’re catching most of our fish on live shrimp using a Carolina rig. But if you’re really good at detecting a very light bite, plastics are working as well.”

Captain Greg was at The Dock, a first class marina and boat launch after a charter trip. “I get all my bait here and use this launch as well.” The Dock is in Slidell and sits right on Lake Ponchatrain. You can get fishing tackle, live bait, and ice while only a five minute ride to three bridges where the specs are tearing it up right now.

“The spill is affecting is all, my business is running at 63 percent of normal right now but we’re hanging in there. It could be worse.” Captain Greg is booked up for the rest of June but July and August are wide open. Give him a call at 985-960-1709 or visit

Not so good news comes from the Lafitte/Barataria area. Captain Scott Poche operates Crescent City Fishing Charters and is running at 20 percent or less of his usual business. Barataria Bay is a big part of the Lafitte area and all of that is closed all the way to Grand Isle.

Most of the guides in the area are trying to get work associated with the spill. “All five of Theophile Bourgeois’ boats are operating with spill related work,” said Jim Owen, a part time guide in the area. “I haven’t fished at all in three months. Grand Isle is completely closed.”

I realize that things might be a little tight for all of us, but if you might have the opportunity, give a fishing guide a call and book a trip with them.

Let them do all the work and you relax and have a good time!

Remember to keep the slack out and set the hook hard. So until next time have fun in the outdoors, be safe and may God truly bless you.

Three happy guys show off their catch of redfish and bass with a flounder to boot.