This past summer Jake Wells made a trip to Louisiana to fish for redfish, offshore species, and experience the sights, sounds, and tastes of New Orleans. In this two-part post, Jake retraces his steps and casts throughout his week-long summer trip…
Part One: Venice – Fishing Capitol of the World
After we got off the plane in New Orleans, I checked the weather forecast on my phone and was happy to see four upcoming days of sun and little wind. Something that can be a rarity in the fall and winter. After Memorial Day it starts to get hot in Louisiana. There’s no denying that. But the fishing doesn’t cool down. In fact, fishing opportunities are abundant both inshore and offshore throughout the entire year.
With a hurricane being an exception to the rule, the weather really starts to stabilize later in the spring and throughout the summer months – sunny, consistent water and air temperature, and light winds for weeks at a time. All of which you want when it comes to fishing the salt – little change in conditions. That translates to more time on the water with ideal conditions for shots at fish.
There’s so much more to fishing in Louisiana than just catching redfish on the flats. Yes, redfish are king on the fly. But there are many more targetable species on the fly that Louisiana has to offer – black drum, jacks, sheepshead, speckled trout, tripletail, mackerel, alligator gar, etc. And that’s only inshore! Come summertime, anglers can also go offshore and catch tuna, dolphinfish, more tripletail, cobia, snapper, wahoo, more jacks, and even marlin!
We had everything in our favor – right weather, right guides, and right attitudes – and we were excited to hit the road and reach the first stop on our week-long trip.
After an easy two-hour drive all the way down the Mississippi River, we reached the end of the road and pulled into the Venice Marina, which is rightfully known as, the “Fishing Capital of the World.” The Sportsmans Lodge was our base of operations. Although the Venice Marina might not have the best curbside appeal, the lodge was very clean, air-conditioned, and had a make yourself at home feel to it which was apparent with the self-serve open bar, television seating area, and outside patio for socializing.
After an evening of eating crawfish and gear preparation, we arose well rested for an early breakfast buffet of biscuits and gravy, eggs, and bacon. Then just as the first sliver of light hit the horizon, Captain John Cole and his deckhand, Captain Martha Spencer gently slid their 40’ Catamaran next to the Sportsmans Lodge. We boarded and headed for open waters with a full-throttle and speakers turned up. The water color went from brown, to green-stained, to an indigo blue.
The oil rigs dotting the Gulf of Mexico are like underwater skyscrapers for aquatic life attracting dozens of different gamefish targeted by anglers. With the help and off-shore knowledge of Captain John West who tagged along with us, we quickly got everything dialed-in and hooked up on our first yellowfin tuna of the day. The day ended by going 4 for 7 on 30-plus pound yellowfin tuna with everyone onboard getting a fish and a workout. But the sore muscles were well worth the adrenaline rush and the fresh sashimi we had for appetizers that night.
Day two started with the same morning routine. Although conditions out at the rigs were a little less than ideal with a swell that had moved in overnight, we were still able to get the job done and went 2 for 2 on yellowfin tuna. After lunch, we decided on a change in scenery. So we fired up the engines and made a move.
Starting in June, miles of grass beds start to form which provides habitat for baitfish which in turn attracts larger gamefish such as dolphinfish, mackerel, jacks, and more. It’s amazing that while you’re literally in the middle of nowhere, you can find these hubs full of life and action. So just like a guide would row down a western river while having his anglers cast their streamers 30 feet toward the bank, Captain Cole slowly motored parallel to the grass beds while we cast our 9-weights and landed our baitfish patterns right on the edge of the grass to entice whatever might be underneath to come out and hammer of fly. This almost never seemed to fail, as sometimes multiple jacks would fight for a position to reach our fly first.
With our second day in Venice at the Sportsmans Lodge completed, we enjoyed another great meal and went to sleep with full stomachs and memories.
But, the trip was only half-over. Read the conclusion here.