Best fishing in the bay

There is no shortage of evidence in Louisiana of catching redfish from the bay’s large, fast boats. The results are often remarkable.
Sam Hudson

Sugar-sand beaches, swaying palm trees, turquoise waters, and upscale resorts are often associated with fishing paradise—but you’ll find none of that in Venice, Louisiana. Instead, you’ll find a few homes on stilts in an unincorporated community (population 162 per 2020 census) and a dingy skyline dominated by oil and petrochemical refineries, factories, storage tanks, oil derricks, smokestacks and tall stacks of kindling, spewing blazing flames like enormous torches. It is a background that few would describe as attractive.

However, visitors travel to this industrial estate at the southernmost end of the road in Plaquemines, a two-hour drive south of New Orleans. Why? That must have been a pretty big draw to get them there.

The answer in one word is fishing. For some species of game fish, the fishing here ranks as some of the best in the world. In these productive waters, around and beyond the mouth of the Mississippi River, red and yellow rule. That is, the red drum near the beach and on the beach; Yellowfin tuna in blue waters around deep oil rigs. There is no shortage of guides for catching redfish and more from the bay’s big, fast boats. Likewise, charter captains in large, multi-engine center console boats (massive boats are especially popular) promise quick access to the river and to the blue waters where large numbers of oil rigs serve as heresies swarming with bait fish and predators – along with big game fish. The menu includes red snapper, gray snapper, cobia, tri-tail, jacks (amber, mako, crevalis), grouper and more.

Good size tuna caught in the Gulf of Mexico
Yellowfin tuna of all sizes can be relied upon near offshore oil rigs. Local captains have central consoles and fast moving boats making day trips easy to accomplish.
Sam Hudson

Venice, in essence, sticks to the Gulf of Mexico. It is surrounded by fishing areas on all sides. That’s good for the fishermen, except when it’s bad: when hurricanes roam the Gulf in late summer and fall. Since 1930, more than 30 named storms have struck southern Louisiana. Some major strikes such as Camille in 1969 and Katrina in 2005 left Venice devastated to the tune of $108 billion, with more than 1,500 people killed. However, the gun always returns, as do the hunters who can’t stay away.

It should be noted that although Venice has a unique location in the Gulf, a number of small communities in southern Louisiana are home to great marine and marine fisheries as well, such as Grand Isle, Lake Charles, Port Fourchon, and many more.

A large tuna caught near the oil rig off Venice, Louisiana
In blue waters, where large numbers of oil rigs act as contraptions, bait fish and predators abound.
Sam Hudson

Planning a trip

when are you going: The two things that are certain are that you can find good fishing any month of the year, and winters are more likely to be stormy. However, winter can be a good time to fish outside when conditions permit, not just for really big tuna, but also for big wahoo in numbers around the famous Midnight Lump (a 200-foot salt dome, known as Sackett Bank on NOAA maps). Summer offers good fishing opportunities for marlin, as well as yellowfin and blackfin tuna, as well as mahi.

Redfish action can be great throughout the year. While the summer months can be hot, in the heat of summer a good guide can take anglers back to the clear “ponds” in the shallow waters of the hinterland to spot the reds. October is hard to beat for fishing in Venice. For one thing, usually in October the really big red bull fish (30 to 40 lbs.) move into the inshore waters to join the smaller schooling fish. Offshore, skippers can fish large yellowfin and black-fin shrimp boats for non-stop action. Swordfish are caught here all year round, although spring through early summer is peak time.

Where to go and how to get there: As mentioned above, getting here is really simple. Whether you rent a car from Louis Armstrong International Airport in New Orleans or drive down, you’ll take the only highway you can take – Louisiana 23 South via Belle Chase (which is about a half hour in light traffic south of the airport) and then another 65 miles ( Just over an hour) down to Venice.

Redfish were caught on the beach around Venice
Back in the swamps of Louisiana, redfish (pictured), black drum and largemouth bass are popular light fishing catches.
Sam Hudson

what are you expecting: You’ll find many Venice fishing charters fishing in the blue waters and also in the inshore deltas, as well as guides for fishing in the “swamp,” as the inshore waters are widely known. As for accommodations, they are somewhat limited. Many fishing operations own their own accommodations (rooms, sometimes entire house boats) or work with others who have homes locally, and routinely set up their clients as part of their offering. Many of the charter tour operators who provide accommodation also arrange meals. With a little luck, you’ll enjoy an arrangement like this, and that often means unforgettable Cajun cooking.

A reliable all-inclusive option is Cypress Cove Marina & Lodge. A full marina and launch ramp is available, as well as 45 hotel rooms and a limited number of townhouse rentals. Cypress Cove runs out of land and sea captains, so it’s never a problem to find a captain who specializes in tri-tail, redfish, trout, swordfish or yellowfin tuna.

Out-of-state anglers will need a non-resident hunting guide/licence; Owners of private boats fishing offshore must obtain a free recreational offshore landing permit. Other than fishing in Venice, there isn’t much to do, although duck hunting in the fall is an option for some.

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(tags for translation)travel fishing

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