Tales from the Coast

Filled with numerous boating stories, fishing tales and history, On the Coast is much more than a cookbook – it tells the story of the Mississippi Coast through food, history, culture and boating. The following is a sample story:

The Chandeleur Boats of Biloxi

ChandyDean Gladney has been running his 65′ custom charter boat, the Beachwater II, south and west into the Mississippi Sound from Biloxi for 35 years. Eight other large vessels similar to Gladney’s are known as Chandeleur Boats and they make the unique run to Louisiana’s Chandeleur Islands and the Breton National Wildlife Refuge for what Gladney calls a “paradise of fishing.”

Also known as “motherships,” what’s unique about the Biloxi Chandeleur boats is that they act as a mobile headquarters with six or more 14′ skiffs loaded onboard as well as the ability to tow their charter’s personal boats for long three day tours of non-stop fishing and camaraderie for up to 12 people. Spacious onboard with the feel of a rustic fishing camp, Gladney’s three man crew works non-stop cleaning the day’s hauls of redfish, speckled trout and flounder and cooking massive meals of some of the finest Gulf Coast suppers imaginable. Everything is taken care of – all you have to do is catch the fish.

“The Chandeleur’s really are a paradise even though they have been ravaged by hurricanes over the last 30 years and are a quarter of their size now.” At 22 years old, Gladney started working as a deckhand for his father in 1979 and his institutional fishing knowledge of the area is unrivaled, “There are so many coves, little bayous, points and grassy habitats out there that are magnets for these fish and when they turn on, boy do they turn on. In the late summer we get my charters out on the Gulf side beaches for surf fishing.”

Ideal for large groups of old friends or families, the time on the motherships is a spectacular way to spend a long weekend. Rarely visited and out of cell phone coverage, the sunsets are spectacular on the large stern deck or on the bow for stargazing and socializing or hanging down below for poker games late into the night. In the spring, thousands of pelicans and other sea birds come to the island chain for nesting and the shoreline beach combing is ideal for flotsam and jetsum, but the real goal is the fishing.

Chandy3Running the little skiffs out from the mothership up into the marsh shallows with an ice chest and then drifting along the shore until you find that one perfect spot where the fish start biting is a unique experience. Never far from the floating base, it’s truly a relaxed fishing expedition without the worries of returning to the boat launch and getting home in time for supper.

The season lasts from April until November and it’s best to book early – the Beachwater II and the other Chandeleur boats fill up quick with many repeat customers extending their trips by staying at the casinos adjacent to the marinas. Reflecting on his years onboard the Beachwater II Gladney adds, “It’s really just been a good life out here on the water and helping so many people see and explore these islands with me.”

— For more coastal stories from Troy Gilbert, please visit GulfLatitudes.com