My first fishing trip to Venice—an angling Mecca at the point where the Mississippi River meets the Gulf of Mexico—was more than an opportunity for me to catch speckled trout the size of my leg and redfish so large and strong they could be compared to a bull, it was my chance to fish where history and fortunes had been made.
After making the approximately 70-mile trip from New Orleans down La. Hwy. 23, anglers have the choice of launching at Cypress Cove Marina or the aforementioned Venice Marina. Both offer conveniences like back-down ramps, tackle, fuel, snacks, beverages, restaurants, on-site lodging and professional guide services.
After leaving the boat harbor of either marina, a confusing maze of passes, bayous and canals spreads out in all directions. This isn’t the place for novice navigators, so inexperienced anglers should think about booking one of the many reputable fishing guides that work out of Venice.
I always fish with a guide. And one thing that guides like Captain Owen Langridge with Big “O” Charters has taught me is that the best fishing during May is along the bays and beaches at the ends of Pass A Loutre, Southeast Pass, Dennis Pass and South Pass.
East of South Pass, Captain Langridge suggests fishing Blind Bay, Redfish Bay and Garden Island Bay. He also sometimes fishes below Port Eads and East Bay. Although there are some good areas west of Southwest Pass, Captain Langridge says they are much better during June than May.
“These big bays hold tons of big spawning trout, but you really can’t go through them fishing without a plan,” Langridge says. Savvy anglers watch their prop wash while idling through the outer bays because the spinning action of a propeller pulls the water near the bottom up towards the surface. The best spots are where the prop wash behind your boat is good, green water.
Captain Brent Roy with Venice Charters Unlimited begins his mornings by quickly fishing the beaches between the bays. “Good baits to try are purple/chartreuse or black/chartreuse cocahoe minnows and chartreuse sparkle beetles. Fish them 18 inches under your popping cork,” Roy advises.
Redfish are often caught within the schools of speckled trout, but anglers can frequently move in to the more interior marsh and catch big reds from points, grass flats and drains by fishing dead shrimp or plastics under a popping cork, gold spoons and spinnerbaits. Plaquemines Parish hosts numerous redfish tournaments throughout the year.
Greg Watts, half of the Watts Brothers fishing team, one of the most consistent redfish tournament teams in the nation, is a professional redfish angler who loves to see Venice on his upcoming tournament schedule. “When the redfish are active at Venice, you can catch them on a shoestring tied to a hook,” he says. “We fish from New Mexico to North Carolina, and I can tell you there’s no place like Venice, La.”
Breton Sound Islands – Breton Sound, the large water body east of Plaquemines Parish and directly south of St. Bernard Parish is full of scattered islands that offer exceptional fishing throughout the summer. Three of the most popular, Belle Island, Iron Banks and Stone Island are great early-morning topwater spots, but they quickly get crowded on the weekends.
Block 69 Rigs – Some of Venice’s best big trout anglers prefer fishing the oil rigs out from the Mississippi River passes. Try fishing live croakers on the bottom or bouncing soft plastics on the bottom, but be aware of the many snags that can hang lures.
Empire Rock Jetties – Rocks attract saltwater fish, and the jetties at the end of the Empire Canal west of Plaquemines Parish are no exception. Live bait catches trout and redfish, but it will also catch more hardhead (saltwater catfish) than you’ll want to take off.
Shell Island Bay Beaches – Shell Island Bay is positioned about halfway between Scofield Bayou east and Four Bayou Pass, the entire stretch is a lengthy beach that offers excellent fishing during the late summer by fishing topwaters and soft plastics on bottoms (inside the gullies) that run behind the beaches. Cuts that drain the interior bays during a falling tide frequently stack up speckled trout.