Sunday, February 5, 2012

Venice Offshore Fishing Report with Pics

Full moon this first weekend in February and all the charter boat captains were booked up for Saturday because of the potential for a great wahoo bite. That all changed when the waves were predicted to be a rough 4-6' offshore for Saturday. Captain Josh called me up while we were eating at the Holiday Inn Roundhouse Grill Friday night and said pretty much all the captains were cancelling their trips for both Saturday and Sunday due to the weather.

Most sensible, normal people would have canceled too, but Josh knew who he was dealing with, with our group and it took us all of 5 minutes to change our plans and head to Venice early Saturday as opposed to Sunday morning for a deap sea fishing trip! Let me just say Captain didnt pressure us into going at all, he just presented an opportunity and explained that we would be some of the only idiots heading out that day....

We were staying at the Holiday Inn in Gretna and headed towards Venice at 3 am. We left an hour earlier than normal cause we hadn't made that trip before, anyhow we got to the Venice Marina at 4:30 am and werent meeting the Captain till 5:30. We just drank coffee with the one legged marina guard and soaked in the sights and sounds of the ocean air...Also once the marina actually opened up we got our fishing licenses and purchased every kind of motion sickness pill and concoction that they had on their shelves. Dramamine, Bonine, herbal motion sickness cough drops, all natural motion sickness inhalers, and some snickers bars (comfort food).

Only 4 other boats headed out with us that morning on what normally would have been a very busy day at the dock. It was a very foggy and rather chilly ride out the Mississippi to the oil rigs that litter the Gulf of Mexico in that area. We headed out a few miles and stopped off at a rig and put out two rods to see if the wahoo were around...about 5 minutes and we were hooked up with what turned out to be a nice Jack Crevaille:

One more circle around the rig and we were hooked up again with a large fish that fought alot like a big amberjack according to the captain so once it shook our lure free, we immediately changed our technique. Instead of trolling big bomber lures for wahoo we dropped large live mullet down about 50 feet. Overall it was about 130 feet deep at that first rig, but the big amberjacks hang out about halfway down.

It took all of 1 minute for our 1/2 lb mullet to get nailed and 10 minutes later we had our first tasty amberjack in the cooler:

Next Justin dropped down and again 30 seconds for the AJ to nail the bait! Justins fish was about a 15 minute battle and it was a monster amberjack!! By far the biggest we have ever caught:

We basically just took turns dropping the big live mullet down until we each put a big AJ in the fish box.

The limit for Amberjack is one per person so we got our 6 and headed out to try some more rigs for Wahoo. Our fresh live mullet were caught from the marina with just a couple casts of the cast net. Mullet actually isnt the preferred bait, but this time of year bait is a bit harder to come by as opposed to during the summertime....

We were marking lots of wahoo at the rigs, but for whatever reason we could only get this one little guy to actually bite. Yep, this actually is a little wahoo for this time of year around the rigs of Venice:

The other boats out werent able to get the wahoo to bite either so we changed gears again and went to the salt dome for some tuna fishing. The salt dome is an area where 400 feet of water comes up to a basically a big hump about 200 feet deep. The currents hitting this hump causes a bunch of bait to congregate here and you all know what happens when bait congregates.....

This area was absolutely full of all kinds of fish! Amazing, really. The routine was to catch king mackerals, bonita, and various other fish and chop them up to form a chum slick. Then we would hook up a piece of chum and slowly let line out hand over hand to keep our bait looking exactly like a piece of chum slowly falling thru the water column. It usually only took about 2 minutes to get a bite with this method, but sometimes you would watch the fish eat it instantly right under the boat.
Here is a pic of one of the two small yellowfins we caught:

We caught 7 sharks over 6 feet long, king mackeral, bonitas, two yellowfin tuna and a handful of blackfin tuna. You tried hard to get your bait down away from the sharks and king macks, but they were just everywhere we went. We couldnt get away from them, but when they didnt break the line they were alot of fun to catch. About 2 pm and our arms were pretty much shot. We were very tired and I guess our legs were too. By no means were we about to give up though, times like this you just dig deep.....

We took some video of the trip and even quite a bit of underwater video of all the sharks we landed at the boat, but it will take a few weeks to get that footage online. Normally I would have had a billion pictures of all the species of fish we caught, but nobody was interested in posing for pictures, they just wanted to fish.

Anyhow it was getting late and we were just about ready to head in about 4:30 pm when we hooked 'the fish'. You know the fish that your out there after, the one you dream about all year long or your whole life! This was the one and we literally hooked it on the last drop.

Chad hooked it and after about 15 minutes he handed the rod off to Dave. Keep in mind we are exhausted from nonstop reeling in fish all day. When you only offshore fish once a year, you just are not prepared for battling strong fish all day long, and I dont care how strong you are or how good of shape your in....Anyhow about 25 minutes later and the sun is setting and Dave hands off the rod to Justin.

25 minutes later and the sun is really setting and is pretty much gone and Justin doesnt really have anyone to hand the rod off too. Dad was too exhausted, and Jared and I just landed 250 lb sharks each during that last drop of Chads. (we actually had a triple header going for the first part of Chads battle. Anyhow Justin decided to man up and fight the fish.

He fought and fought and fought and we were following this fish around with the boat for a long time. By now its about 6 pm and we have the fish within 30 feet of the boat, but its too dark to see what it is. The fish decided to go for one last major run and was able to get around the front of the boat before Justin did and that little bit of friction finally snapped the 130 lb test line! Talk about being oh so close to a fish of a lifetime!!!!

The ride in was very interesting. Not only were the seas rough and it was dark, but the fog decided to roll in as well. Its times like these when your thankful to have a world class captain who grew up in these waters guiding your ship. A weekend guide or pretty much anyone else wouldnt really make it back safely or at all...

Oh yeah I forgot to mention the rain that also came along with the fog, darkness, and rough seas. Yep, it was a very cold and soaking rain. One of those things that make the trip a full blown adventure that will help embed it into your mind forever. One of the jokes in the ride back to New Orleans that night about how I dont remember how long it actually rained for because all I remember is the beginning and ending of the rain because I just found a happy place to get me through....find a happy place, find a happy place.....

I brought a cooler so big it barely fit in the trunk of my mini van and we filled it up completely with some unbelievably tasty fish! I found a dry ice and seafood shipping company in New Orleans where I am going to package up the fish and ship it home Monday morning before getting on the cruise ship. The fish meat will make it home before we do and my grandpa Herman is going to take good care of it for us in the mean time.

Speaking of the cruise, thats really what this family vacation was all about, the fishing trip was just something we threw in at the last minute. Im sure I will throw in some New Orleans details and cruise details in the days to come for those interested in that combination for a family vacation, we really are having a blast and we havent even boarded the ship yet! The guys are happy, the gals are happy, and the kids are happy!

We planned on taking more pics when we got back to the dock, but we didnt plan on it being dark and wet and cold when we got back. (I'm glad I got some while out on the boat, it literally was like pulling teeth to get the guys to hold up a fish for more than 6 seconds). Here is a pic of the amberjacks hanging and some of the tunas to show how one of the blackfins got bitten in half by a shark while reeling it in:

We fished with Captain Josh Howard of Deep South Charters. He flat out knows how to fish and pretty much is the guide all the other guides look to down out of Venice. He has a big network of the best guides out of Venice and knows how to pair up each group of fisherman with the right guide. You want to Tuna fish way off shore at the Lump, he knows the best. You want to bottom fish this region for snappers and groupers, he hooks you up with the right guy. Amberjack, cobia, and the same for pretty much every species of fish including redfish, speckled trout, backwater bowfishing, and even duck hunting- He is or knows the best of the best for everything Venice has to offer. Deep South Charters has you covered from A to Z and can put you on limits of several species all in the same day or weekend!

Here is a cool video showcasing the kind of stuff Deep South does:

We are chomping at the bit to see more of what Venice has to offer during a guys weekend sometime in hopefully the near future! We only barely scratched the surface of everything this place has to offer. Logistically its much easier to get to than the Florida Keys and the deep sea fishing is 1000 times better than Orange Beach/Gulf Shores area! Venice truly is the fishing capital of America and is a very easy straight shot down I-55 from Central Illinois!


  1. ok, HAD to comment,, Your pictures were sooo cool! Too bad, "the fish" got away... wonder what it was? GREAT BLOG!

  2. Sounds like your party had a great trip with Capt Josh Howard. I made a few trips with him last year with basically the same experience. To anybody wanting a true lifetime fishing experience, you can't go wrong with

    Great blog post!