Charter boat business still struggling after spill

Published: Apr. 24, 2012 at 11:11 PM CDT|Updated: May. 8, 2012 at 7:11 PM CDT
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Wendy Billiot fishes Bayou Dularge from the banks and her boat.  You don't have to go far to catch just about anything.

"From right here in this bayou, you can go west and then go north and you're fishing freshwater bass, white perch, brim," says Billiot. "And if you leave from here and go south, you're fishing saltwater, saltwater species. And right in the middle in the brackish zone, we catch largemouth bass and redfish in the same waters on the same baits."

Billiot runs the website, which reaches an audience around the world. One of the things she blogs about most is how great Terrebonne Parish is for fishing.

Billiot says people outside the state don't seem to know that.  "What I get are comments on the blog after I make a post, a comment saying, 'Oh my goodness, I'm in Texas and I had no idea that things could be that great in Louisiana,'" she says.

Billiot says business is still down for both her charter company and fishing lodge two years after the oil spill.

Lieutenant Governor Jay Dardenne says it's a problem statewide. He says charter fishing is down about 30 percent around Louisiana, even with commercials promoting the Gulf Coast nationally.

Captain Bill Lake runs a charter fishing service from Bayou Dularge.

"Every day, I get phone calls, 'Are you open for business? Are the fish good to eat?'" he says. "We get tired of hearing this but you know, people around in other states, they just don't have a clue. They don't know what's going on down here and all they got to go by is what the media told them back in 2010. "

Lake thinks it will just take time for his out-of-state customers to return.  Both business owners agree that word of mouth from happy Louisianans can't hurt.

"If you don't believe us, just come on down for the weekend," says Billiot. "It's just a little day trip from Lafayette. It's a day trip from Baton Rouge and it's less than a day trip from New Orleans so all of those people can just come on down and see for themselves."