Fishing Tips Delta Delights Posted 1/10/2014 PACK UP YOUR TACKLE AND HOOK UP THE TRAILER FOR A WORLD-CLASS FISHING VACATION While most tourists consider a visit to New Orleans the highlight of any trip to Louisiana, if fishing is your passion aim your sights a little further south to the famed Mississippi Delta and the town of Venice. The quality and variety of the fishing opportunities available from Venice are quite simply unsurpassed by any place in the United States, or many of the heralded fishing destinations around the world. The little town is the southernmost outpost in the state, but from a base at Venice Marina you will have access to a variety of passes leading into the open waters of the Gulf of Mexico, where the variety and abundance of gamefish is truly mind-boggling. Bull redfish, red snapper, grouper, kingfish, blackfin and yellowfin tuna, wahoo and marlin, to name a few, are available seasonally and some are in residence year round. Mike Butler shows off a nice red snapper caught from his skiff a couple miles from the mouth of the Mississippi River. If you’d rather fish inshore or on more sheltered waters, you can explore the endless miles of channels, bays and bayous where you can sight cast to redfish, catch a limit of beautiful sea trout, stalk massive tarpon and encounter drum, flounder and even largemouth bass. The fishing for redfish and tuna out of Venice is so incredible, the marina has earned two enviable nicknames: “Tunatown, U.S.A.” and the “Redfish Capital of the World.” Bottom line—it doesn’t matter if you trailer a boat that is offshore capable, a simple aluminum skiff or pretty much anything in between—the Delta has you covered, and so do Mike and Bill Butler, your hosts at Venice Marina. Venice Marina was already a well-known fishing destination when the Butler brothers purchased it about 12 years ago and began making renovations to the tired facility. A few years later, it was flooded by Hurricane Katrina’s massive tidal surge, but Bill and Mike, both natives of the Delta, were not going to let a hurricane smash their dreams. They rolled up their sleeves and set to work undertaking a massive cleanup and rebuilding project. The main buildings at Venice Marina include the Crawgator Bar and the Grill (upsairs, left), the tackle and marine store (upstairs right); ice, live and frozen bait (ground level right) and the fish cleaning and shipping service (ground level left). This fronts the main part of the marina and the docks where charter boats pick up their customers each morning. The result is a totally new facility from the ground up that offers visiting anglers pretty much everything they need to enjoy the amazing fishing the surrounding waters have to offer. The new complex includes 120 slips; parking for trucks and boat trailers; two concrete launch ramps; fuel, ice, bait, a huge fish cleaning facility, fish cleaning, packing and shipping service; a marine supply and tackle store; Crawgator’s Bar and Grill; and multi-room cabins that can house a group of fishermen or your family available for rent. The marina is also home to dozens of the finest professional guides and charter boat operations on the Gulf, and there is even a condominium complex for fishermen who wanted to own a summer place close to the action. This coming June, the marina will have camper pads and hookups available for sportsmen who like to travel in more self-sustained luxury “Down here it’s all about the fishing,” said Bill Butler. And he should know. In addition to being the operations manager of the facility, he also competes on the SKA® Professional Kingfish Tour. His tournament boat is a Yamaha-powered 42-foot Invincible center console, which also happens to be an ideal boat for fishing the nearby Gulf waters. On a recent fishing trip with Bill, yellowfin tuna were the target but each day on the way back to the marina the crew took advantage of the open season for red snapper, catching limits of these tasty and abundant fish in a matter of minutes. Bill Butler (left) and Donald Bourgeois (right) show off a pair of redfish caught fishing a nearby pass. You can do battle with monster reds outside in the open waters of the Gulf. The fishing in this area of the Delta truly knows no season. There are gamefish to be found year round. Yellowfin tuna are abundant twelve months out of the year; the hotspots just change along with the prevailing size of the fish being caught. During spring, summer and fall the best tuna action takes place around the many oil production platforms, with live bait and surface lures the prevalent technique. The tuna will range from 20-pound blackfin to yellowfin breaking the 100-pound mark. Summertime is also your best bet for billfish, including blue marlin and sailfish. It’s also a great time of year for incredible dolphin fishing. In the fall, even bigger yellowfin invade the area with many exceeding 200 pounds, and most years they can be caught all winter long. At that time, chunking with dead bait becomes a primary tactic. The tuna fishing is so good that Sportfishing Magazine® ranked Venice in the top five places in the world to fish for these great gamefish. Fall also sees an influx of big wahoo that can be caught along the many rip lines that develop offshore. Depending on weather, wahoo might be around though the winter, but prime time for big bruisers is during March and April. The region also plays host to abundant schools of king mackerel that consistently include the largest found anywhere in the fish’s range. And if that’s not enough, try deep dropping for a variety of species of grouper. Speckled trout and redfish abound in the weather-protected backcountry waters pretty much year round, and the area is also home to massive tarpon that gather here to feed on the abundant baitfish that swarm in and out of the vast, nutrient-rich marshlands that make up the Delta. When you need a break from the fishing, the entire region is a naturalist’s playground. Flocks of exotic birds including spoonbills and flamingos can be found foraging through the marshes and during fall and winter the waters are filled with ducks on the southern leg of their migratory path. There are endless miles of scenic beauty to explore. Venice is truly a sportsman’s paradise and an ideal place to spend an incredible fishing vacation. Venice Marina, www.venicemarina.com, with hosts Bill and Mike Butler, is at the epicenter of the action. Bring your own boat or take advantage of the fleet of charter boats and backcountry guides that call Venice home. Y A visiting boat from Florida cruises down the lower Mississippi from Venice Marina to the Gulf of Mexico to chase yellowfin tuna.