VENICE, La. — The shallow, Gulf Coastal waters around Venice, La., are most certainly one of the five top fishing destinations in North America and maybe the world.
Based on quality of fish, variety of species and access, some anglers even argue it is the best fishing found anywhere, yet rarely will you have to share fishing waters with other anglers because there are miles and miles of it.
Many Oklahoma anglers have discovered the fishing bonanza that exists 14 hours south of Oklahoma City, catching record and near record fish on a regular basis.
If planning a trip to this fishing Mecca, here are answers to the five most common questions about fishing in Venice.
1. Should I hire a guide or fish on my own? If sharing water with ships the size of your college alma mater, getting lost or running aground occasionally gives you pause, then consider hiring a reputable guide.
To hire a guide, just Google “Venice fishing guide” then thoroughly check references.
If you're more adventurous, just load up the bass boat and go. Be sure to get a good chart, GPS and compass.
Two boats are better in case of breakdowns. There are several motels in the area.
2. What can I catch? Redfish are the most popular species for anglers but all manner of fish are available.
On my recent fishing trip with Oklahoma Supreme Court Justice Joseph Watt, we caught reds, black drum, amber jack, flounder, pompano, Spanish mackerel, speckled trout, largemouth bass all in about the same water using the same tackle.
Variety is abundant at Venice but big redfish is the king.
3. When is the best time to go? Fishing is good 12 months a year in Venice but weather always is an issue.
In fact, weather can turn ugly anytime down there and a beautiful day can turn into disaster if you're not careful. .
It may be wise to avoid September and October because of tropical depressions and hurricanes, but it's a great time of year to catch fish if you keep an eye on the conditions.
4. What do I use for bait? Tackle is the easiest part. What you use to catch bass in Oklahoma will work well for Venice.
I mostly use spinning tackle with 14-pound Fireline with a 24-inch, 25-pound mono leader, but any bass tackle will do.
A ¼-ounce saltwater jig tipped with Berkley Gulp Shrimp is used by most. A popping cork with the Gulp is also very popular.
Moving around a lot until you find fish is key. I generally go out one of the passes then start working the beaches. It has never failed me.
5. Are redfish good to eat? Redfish taste great. Limits are liberal.
Anglers are allowed to keep five red fish per day, including one over 27 inches.
No fish can be kept less than 15 inches. You can grill them, bake them, boil them or even fry them, if you must. They are good no matter how they are cooked.
Be sure to grab 10 pounds of fresh shrimp on the way out of town.