Catch and release in water or grease

Follow the advice of the state’s former deer study leader, and you’ll make your small property the one place every buck wants to come to.

My pick for September as the best place to catch bass is Venice. I like bass fishing out of Venice then because of the very hot weather, and this area has plenty of moving water. The Mississippi River runs current through Venice, and the tide moves in and out 365 days a year.

Often, Venice has wind then too — elements that cause the water to move and the bass to feed.

Normally by September, the river’s down, and the water has turned green. The bass begin pulling out of the backwater ponds and moving to points and cuts on the main river. This moving water makes the bass easier to catch.

As the Mississippi River slows down in September, the water becomes saltier. You can catch bonus fish — sheepshead, speckled trout and redfish — as well as limits of largemouth bass on the same types of lures in a day.

Louisiana is blessed with an abundance of saltwater fish, and I certainly won’t throw back that limit of speckled trout and redfish when I’m bass fishing. I’m all about catch and release on bass, but those speckled trout and redfish fillets are delicious to release in grease for a Friday night fish fry. I’ve been raised catching and eating those species.

In the morning, I’ll start with Strike King’s Premier Elite buzz bait and spinnerbait. My spinnerbait has two willowleaf blades on it — one gold, the other nickel. The skirts on my spinnerbait and buzz bait will be white/chartreuse. I’ll catch every fish that swims whether I’m in fresh water or salt water on these lures early in the morning.

I’ll primarily target the cuts and their mouths that run out of the backwater into the main river channel. The crazy thing about fishing in September at Venice is that the bass, the speckled trout and the redfish all will school up together in breaking water on points.

I’ve pulled up on points in September and caught bass on every cast before catching a bull red or a trout. I’ve even caught big freshwater catfish in September at Venice.

Fishing Venice is so addictive in September that it’s not a place where you’ll be happy fishing for one day. You’ll have to stay two or three days.

To locate big bass at Venice, look for moving water and thick vegetation like milfoil, hyacinths or other cover where the fish can hide. Remember, you’ll get some 100-degree weather at this time of year, and those bass will be looking for cool, shady places. Be sure to carry plenty of drinking water to stay hydrated.

Although big bass will be hanging on the edges of the grass early in the morning, as the day and the sun get hotter, the bass will bury up deeper in cover. Then, I’ll start flipping.

Under that grass, bass will be eating crawfish, crabs and various baitfish. I’ll use my 7-foot, 11-inch Quantum flipping stick and 65-pound-test braided line. I’ll use a 3/8- to 1-ounce slip sinker, depending on how heavy the cover is.

I’ll either flip Strike King’s new Space Monkey, the Rage Craw or a Bleeding Bait Tube. I’ll often fish the Bleeding Bait Tube in junebug or black-neon colors in the dark-green water because it goes so easily through cover. I can get by with fishing a small weight.

Fish at Venice during September are super-aggressive. In most waters where you find bass, the largemouth is the apex predator. At Venice, however, there are many fish that classify as apex predators, compete for food and feed aggressively, including redfish, speckled trout, alligator gar, catfish and bass. When you throw a lure in the waters of Venice in September, the lure will enter a fish-eating world. Anything that hits the water will be attacked. You’ll probably get many more reaction strikes at Venice than any other place in the country.

Our state has had another year without a huge storm hitting the coast, so the coastal bass fishing has improved. Plenty of bass were left around Venice following Hurricane Katrina. However, the storm seemed to take the heaviest toll on the larger bass in this fishery.

This September, you’ll find numbers of bass weighing from 1 to 3 pounds each and occasionally a 5-pounder. At this time of year, catching and releasing 25, 50 or 100 bass in a day isn’t uncommon at Venice.

You may catch more redfish than bass. If the water’s good quality and extremely salty, the speckled trout will come.

Generally, I like to fish from the Wagon Wheel to Head of Passes, and anywhere up and down the east side of the Mississippi River where you find green water with 1 to 1 1/2 feet of visibility. I like to fish the last two hours of a falling tide.

The fish at Venice will bite all day long this month, but they’re easier to catch on a falling tide. There’s not a better place in Louisiana where you release 25 to 100 bass per day into the water, and also catch speckled trout and redfish to take home, fillet and release into grease.

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