Water was lapping the top of the Venice Marina docks Monday when we launched the boat, a surprise because winds were howling out of the east for most of Sunday and all night. We figured the east side of the Mississippi River would be unfishable because of high water, but we expected water levels to be fine on the west side.
So we weren't sure what we would find when we turned the boat into Tante Phine Pass and headed for the Wagon Wheel.
But redfish were waiting, and three of us ended the day by catching about 25 fish.
The keys were 1) clean, clear water, 2) current and 3) shallow, freshly flooded mud flats.
"These were mud banks yesterday," said Bassmaster editor James Hall, who was in Venice for an annual writers event known as Marsh Madness. "This high water has covered them up."
Reports from the Wheel were pretty good yesterday, but I thought the reds would be pushed into the canes because there was plenty of water for them to do so.
Instead, Hall, Rat-L-Trap's Wes Higgins and I anchored at one intersection and cast baits next to the roseaus and caught red after red.
The fish seemed to have pushed onto the mud flats to feed on the ample baitfish infesting the intersection. If one of us threw a bait past the scaterred line of milfoil and retrieved it into the deeper water, that angler was going to catch fish.
Success came on pretty much anything we threw. Hall and Higgins insisted on using live and dead shrimp: They caught fish. I refused to stoop to that level, sticking with a Z-Man ChatterBait with an LSU-colored Swimmin' Trout Trick — and I mauled the reds.
Higgins even caught one fish on his company's new downsized StutterStep, which the fish absolutely engulfed.
After catching our three-man limit, we hopped around the outer ring of the Wagon Wheel, focusing on similar locations. We caught fish wherever we found shallow mud flats with milfoil and some bait movement.
The forecast this week calls for 15 mph winds through Thursday, slowing to 10 mph or less over the weekend. That means weekend fishing should be wide open — but if you have a day off during the week, don't let the winds stop you from heading to Venice.
Just focus on shallow, milfoil-covered mud flats holding baitfish, and you should find plenty of action.
South Carolina FLW pro Brian Latimer said he and another angler caught 40 reds each in the roseaus off Red Pass. Every one of his bites came off of the ChatterBait.
"It was the best fishing day of my life," Latimer said.