Venice, Louisiana’s Mixed Catch Hotspot
When the lower Mississippi River make its annual fall, anglers head to
Venice, Louisiana, for a real
Learn the methods,tips, tactics,how to, and techniques for fall fishing the lower
Mississippi River for a variety of fresh and saltwater species.
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My old fishing buddy’s face had a perplexing look upon it when I told him we had caught a real mixed catch. But when I explained that the fish were both saltwater and freshwater species, all taken from the same spot, the look became more transfixed.
This in itself is not an unusual occurrence in Venice, Louisiana, during the fall season when the Mississippi River begins its annual fall. It is during this time of year the river stage drops below 3 feet, allowing saltwater to move north up the river, bringing with it saltwater species.
Though weather conditions both locally as well as up north have a bearing as to the time the river stages reach their lowest levels, it generally occurs in late September. It will stay clean and low through fall, and then around December it will routinely rise and muddy up again. As this occurs, it gradually pushes the “saltwater wedge” back out into the Gulf of Mexico, taking with it its resident species.
Nevertheless, upon hearing the report, my old fishing buddy invited himself to my honey hole. And to ward off any consideration to my declining, he volunteered his boat with me at the helm.
Now how could I refuse such a bribe, since his boat was a much newer, faster,and fancier model than mine?
After launching at Venice Marina, we headed south down the east side of the Mississippi River toward the location designated on a map as the Delta National Wildlife Refuge. This spot is situated right before Main Pass and is identified by a tall, red and white lookout tower and a concrete bulkhead that boarders the river’s edge.
Once we arrived at the spot, I hardly turned the ignition off, let alone anchored, when my vivacious old friend had already hooked up with two nice sized largemouth bass on a tandem sparkle beetle rig. His audible reaction could be heard way back at the launch, as he continued reeling in amazement.
Feeling left out after making two casts and coming up blank, I began to wonder why I showed them this spot to begin with. On the third cast I became more frustrated, when I hung up on the bottom and had to break my line free.Re-rigging wouldn’t have been so bad had they ceased catching and swing fish past my nose.
Using tandem, clear/silver flaked sparkle beetles with ¼ oz. jig heads can put a hurtin’ on the fish in this area––both fresh and saltwater species alike. The reason being is that these old-faithful lures closely resemble live river shrimp, a crustacean predator fish can’t seem to resist.
It’s a good idea to keep up with the type of fish species being boated and the limit for each, since the area produces a wide variety of freshwater fish that you may not be readily familiar with. Certain freshwater species, like white bass and small striped bass, can sometimes be difficult to distinguish between the two. To overcome such a problem, brining a book or chart that has color illustrations of different fish species, and always consult with the local *Wildlife and Fisheries for the bag and size limits before you plan a trip. *(web site addresses at the end of article)
In any case, a live well can prove handy if you want to cull through the fish in order to keep the larger ones. This is particularly useful when catching stripers and largemouths (black bass) that usually run small.
As alluded to earlier, the water in this area is both freshwater and saltwater during this time of the year. Therefore it’s to be noted that the saltwater––being the heavier of the two––will remain below the freshwater. Thus, it is good to know the location of each species preferred haunt. First of all, both species can be caught within forty feet of the wall. But more specifically, saltwater species are taken in the deeper and lower levels of the water table, while the freshwater species prefer the shallower water closer to the wall structure. Average depths range near the wall is 14 to 25 ft.
One of the more productive areas is close and parallel to the concrete and wooden bulkhead where it joins together near the south end. Fish like hanging here because of the protection that is provided by the wooden stumps and other debris that lurk below. Also, bait-carrying waters flow in and out between the broken wooded planks and concrete wall.
Therefore, fishing on the bottom where most of the fish like to hang, you’re going to experience a lot of snags. That is why it is advantageous to bring plenty of pre-made, tandem sparkle beetle sets, and fish them just off the bottom with a slow retrieve and light twitching action.
Passing ships necessitate proper anchoring when fishing this area. To prevent hitting the wall with your hull, anchor the boat on the least amount of rope as possible, keeping it clear of the wall. If you have at least 8 ft. of chain on your anchor, this can be accomplished without it breaking loose.
Ship wakes are usually slow, non-cresting type rollers, but cargo vessels and crew boats can produce a bit more of a punch. For this reason it’s beneficial to keep one eye on the lookout, ready to sound a warning to hold on if you see one approaching.
After fishing this area for many years, you figure out how to prevent the loss of too much tackle and at the same time avoid getting shaken up by the wakes. If you’re the adventurous type, you might want to try getting out of the boat and fishing on top of the wall. If you decide to do this, however, you want to leave someone aboard the boat that knows how to drive, just in case it breaks free. From this vantage point you’ll probably catch more freshwater species but experience less hang-ups.
It wasn’t long before certain crew members decided to get on the wall and join one of their fellow fishing companions as they observed him hauling in an eight-pound striper, followed by several black and white bass. Certainly,Louisiana isn’t exactly noted for striped bass, no more than the crew was noted for freshwater fishing, but you’d never know it just by looking.
Casts made away from the wall and toward the deeper water often produced saltwater species that you wouldn’t expect catch in such a location. For instance, there were times when one angler hooked and landed a Spanish mackerel or speckled trout, while at the same moment his fishing companion–fishing closer to the wall–grappled with a white or striped bass.
Even while such action unfolded, it wasn’t uncommon to see passersby looking at you as if to say “what in the world do you think you’re going to catch here?” But when you see them back at the launch, and they gaze inside your ice chest, their attitude changes quickly.
At noontime we just about had our 98 quart ice chest full with fish, reaching our bag limit for stripers and largemouths. But the ice chest also boasted of specks, redfish and a few Spanish mackerels––a real mixed catch in anyone’s book. Or should I say box?
The Wildlife Refuge wall is not the only place in Venice that you can reap such a mixed catch in fall. Two other nearby spots that can easy be found on a map are Tiger Pass, on the west side of the river, and Baptiste Collette Bayou,on the east side of the river. The only difference between the wall and these other two places is that redfish dominate the latter. Also, the many other passes and tributaries that lie off the main river stem produce similar catches, but if you aren’t familiar with how to navigate them, you could get stranded on a sandbar.
At the end of the trip, we approached the launch where four boats waited in line to be picked up by the hoist. As we positioned our boat for pick up, the operator turned toward us with a curious smirk and blared out,”How’d y’all do?” In response my old fishing buddy opened the ice chest lid and gruffly bellowed, “Just a real mixed catch, cap! Just a real mixed catch!”
This article is in memory of my beloved fishing friend Mr.John C. Wagner, Sr.
NOTE: Check these Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries web sites for the latest creel and bag limits for species mentioned herein:
FRESHWATER SPECIES: http://www.wlf.louisiana.gov/fishing/freshwater.cfm
SALTWATER SPECIES: http://www.wlf.louisiana.gov/fishing/saltwater.cfm