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October 03, 2013

Louisiana Offers America's Best Redfish Action

Prime fishing grounds upon the Red Delta.

As Capt. Scott Sullivan steered the bay boat out of Cypress Cove Marina in Venice, Louisiana, I settled in for what I believed would be a lengthy ride. Being a newcomer to those parts, I assumed the prime fishing grounds would lie in some remote and pristine area far away. Little did I know. 

Sullivan drove less than a mile downriver in one of the western tributaries of the Mississippi River before abruptly pulling back the throttle and lowering the boat’s twin Power Poles near the junction of the main canal and a much smaller side canal leading to a few houses. “We’re here,” he said.

The spot didn’t look very promising to me, but I’ve learned not to argue with local knowledge, so I grabbed a light spinning rod armed with a Gulp! shrimp tail, and fired off a cast toward the point. “Put it close to the shoreline, but not too close — there are some stumps and stuff in there,” Sullivan advised. I had cast right to the shore, so I assumed I had hung one of the stumps when my rod bent over after only two hops into the retrieve.I soon realized that this “stump” had begun racing along the shoreline, taking lots of line with it. I fought the fish as our crew began speculating on what it might be. “There’s only one thing around here that fights like that,” Sullivan said. “Bull red.” The fish made several strong runs before submitting to the pressure applied by the tackle, and sure enough, a nice bull red popped up from the murky water, right next to the boat. My first cast of the first day had produced a chunky redfish much larger than those I’m used to catching at home.

Business as Usual

But that’s Venice. While we Floridians oohed and aahed about the size of the fish and its rich coloration, Sullivan simply shrugged as he removed the hook and released the fish back into the water. Redfish like that one are a dime-a-dozen in Louisiana, and the locals don’t get that excited about them. In fact, as we came to learn during our trip, locals much prefer speckled trout over reds because they’re viewed as better to eat, and you can keep a pile of them — 25 per person per day.

Visitors like the reds just fine, and in recent years, Venice has become one of only a handful of spots in the U.S. where you can expect consistent action with big redfish, and lots of them. We had come to Louisiana to film an episode of Sport Fishing Television, and asked Sullivan to guide us. He’s more at home in the fertile waters offshore of Venice, but proved himself to be a worthy inshore guide as well during our time with him.

Vast Habitat 

Fishing for redfish around Venice often involves a great deal of prospecting, although the fish do seem to hang around certain spots with regularity. Moving pays dividends, however, as Sullivan proved over the course of several days. We ran from spot to spot, and covered miles of creeks and waterways. These branches of the Mississippi seem to go on forever in all different directions, so local knowledge is essential when trying to decide where to stop and fish.

Sullivan favored points where two or more tributaries merged, a logical ambush spot where one would expect to find predators. The method involved setting up a stake-out point with the Power Poles where we could fan-cast the points on both sides and right on the ­extreme tip of the point itself.