I've been planning this trip to Venice Louisiana for six months. Our original plan was to head out with Mike Ellis aboard Relentless 7/29, and and fish 7/30-7/31 on a overnighter on my friend TJ's boat. The original plan was to come back with a mess of tuna and mangroves, but even the best laid out plans don't always work out. It wasn't all bad, as you will read on our hail-mary (touchdown) in the 4th quarter worked out just fine, along with a 6x onside kick with 6x quick recoveries followed by 6x more hail-maries and 7 total touchdowns in the 4th quarter, won us the game.
Id like to start off saying this trip almost became a no go due to weather, TS Don landed on Thurs and Mike cancelled Fri due to 6 foot seas. My crew consisted of a couple RN's that had to take leave a couple of months back and really wanted to catch their first yellowfin tuna, so I made a few phone calls and booked us for Paradise Outfitters with Captain Josh on Sunday. They had a offshore rodeo this weekend so all of the popular charters were already booked, I was extremely lucky Josh had a cancellation.
We left Palm Harbor Thursday morning and made to New Orleans around Six PM. Quick stop by at Perino's for an Insanely good eating and hot Crawfish and Crab Boil.
Finally made to our friend TJ's fish camp in Buras right around 11 PM. Luckily TJ owns the fish camp which saved us big $$$ on lodging and ice.
First day out was really rough. It was 2 ft waves even the pass. We even saw a 33ft charter with Captain William Wall, that turned us around and told us "I would not go out there on that one" meaning our 26 foot Sea Chaser with twin engine wasn't enough with the rough weather. There were at least 3 40+ foot sport-fishers who were anchored close to the mouth of the river and were waiting for the weather to die down so they could fish the tournament. We tried to get out of the south pass, and we were churned around like we were in a washing machine by angry seas right at the exit.
So the captain turn around and head in to look for some Redfish. We fished the Spillway for two hours but all we caught were Catfish. Decided to go out to SW pass and the seas was actually looks better with waves of high rollers in 2-3 foot range. Then we went on first small rig we saw about 1 mile from the entrance about 30 feet of water. We were surprise to catch Red Snappers in 7-10 lbs range. Red snappers in 30ft of water, 1 mile off the coast, and stacked, ridiculous... Decided to head out 7-10 miles to some oil rigs a little deeper but all we caught were ARS and a shark. We chummed, flatlined and put baits on the bottom. Very unproductive day.
Day 1: Tuna 1/Mangroves 1 Team Reel Thrill 0
Second day, Sat July 30th, head out early about 6am at the dock. Expecting to catch our Tuna but our captain who owns the boat and fish camp is having a difficult time locating bait. While fishing for bait, he was as happy as can be catching Almaco Jacks using his jigs. We caught a few big nerfball sized Blue runners for bait and finally head to our tuna spot by 11 am. At this time there were already 8 boats at the Rig when we get there.
Everybody was live baiting but we didn't know they were using "crack size baits". Baits we found out later on during the charter that you can catch right out there at the rig. We could have saved 3 hours looking for bait and been the first boat to tuna town. (fishing is just a big gamble).
We saw two Tuna caught all day at this rig. We learned later on, all our bait were too big and we fished it wrong by slow trolling around the rig instead of holding his position at the spot and learning to just let the baits swim and look normal on the surface with outriggers, after marking tunas.
After trying for at-least 3-4 hours without anybite. We checked one rig that we thought we saw far from the distance. We were dismayed to see as we came close that this "rig" is actually a Giant Ship laying a gas line. We wasted 2 hours and we head right back to same spot and tried everything, Chunking, chumming, jigging, popping, and live bait but no avail.
Another David, well call him Marine, West Coast Dave on the boat was a red snapper virgin so we head back in and stop by to tangle with them and some 40 plus pounds AJ's.
We ended up catching 8 40+lb AJ's I land 4 of them in a row before I tapped out. Then TJ took us to his ARS hole that bent our poles in every drop. WE used dead bait, cut bait, jigs both butterfly and diamond and even a weighted home made extra large gotcha lure, everything got slammed. We drifted a 1/4 mile off the spot and were still catching snapper on every drop, half way up if you loose your snapper, another would hit your jig before you bring it to the surface. I never seen ARS this thick in my life...
We could have sank the boat if we were allowed to keep them. This fish were big also, all in 10 to 15 lbs range. So the end of second day Tuna less we felt the pressure. Our hopes crushed and Luis started to get mad at me for promising the godly tuna bite Venice is famous for. Damn you TS Don!
Day 2: Tuna 2/ Mangroves 2 Team Reel Thrill 0
Third day Sunday. Got to the dock at 6 am for our Charter The Renegade. The boat is made of solid aluminum. Designed almost looked exactly alike a Freeman with twin Yamaha 300 horses (a bit underpowered).
The reels were great from a spinning Saragosa, Torsa's and 50 wide Tiagras on bent 5'6" crowder rods. Standard operating gear for Venice Charters. As soon as we got out of the pass we look for baits. Caught about half a dozen crack baits then off for the races to our spot. When we arived there were atleast 3 other boats, alot better then 8 yesterday.
My stomach dropped to the floor when I realized it was the same rig we were at the day before. I didn't say a word but you could read the dissapointment in my face, lol what Todd said to me haha. These guys got it figured out. They set up our bait on their outriggers and not even 10 minutes passed we have a hook up. We were the 3rd boat at the rig this morning but first boat to hook up. We caught our seven Tuna, singles and doubles in less than 1 1/2 hours period. We had seven Yellowfin in the boat by 10:30 From then on we have not caught fish. They let their buddies get a few fish from the spot. I had to get in early to make the exhausting long drive back to Orlando to take my Finals the next morning or we would have hit up some mangroves on the way back. But we all caught some very nice fish and I learned a lot from these guys. As you can see we had a hell of a 4th quarter, and alot of luck.
Final Tally 7/7 on YFT and 1/1 on Blackfin
As TJ always says, "Venice is the Hook Up, Holla If You Hear Me!"
Here are our pictures: