Venice matters: Why 2011 Bassmaster Classic field should look south for success

The last two Bassmaster Classics that were held in New Orleans opened some eyes as to just how good we have it here in South Louisiana. This one will open the rest of them. February is a far cry from the syrupy and stagnant Louisiana summers in that just about all the bass in the marshes surrounding New Orleans will be either gearing up for the spawn or actually spawning rather than seeking relief in the shade.

Prominent fishing patterns might not be much different because, let’s face it, bass trying to survive in the marsh don’t have time to think about whether what they see in front of them is a shrimp, shad or a spinnerbait.

In other words, this Bassmaster Classic won’t be nearly as much about what contestants are casting as it will where they are casting. To think that this tournament will come down to who can better punch a jig, who can better burn a blade or who can better flip a worm is nothing more than a perverted pipe dream.

This Bassmasters Classic will come down to which contestant can find that one magical spot that can give up three consecutive 15- to 20-pound five-bass limits.

Putting all eggs in one basket is risky because of all the variables of the Louisiana Delta, but the contestant that finds the spot that can weather a north wind, tame the tide and withstand the Mississippi River wildcard will win.

After all, the Louisiana Delta isn’t a perfectly manicured man-made reservoir with neat little boat houses all lined up in a row; it is a labyrinth that confines largemouth bass more suited for receiving human sacrifices than the paparazzi treatment.

Make a wrong turn at the wrong time, and you’ll be eaten alive. Make the right turn at the right time, and you’ll get to ride around the floor of the New Orleans Arena with the Classic trophy in one arm and an American flag in the other.

Venice bass will be in dead-ends

Venice was not so secretly one of the hottest bass-fishing destinations in all of Louisiana last summer and fall. As crazy as it may sound, anglers were catching more than 100 bass a day with lots of 3- and 4-pound fish.

Many veteran bass anglers believe that as long as the Mississippi River doesn’t flood and the wind doesn’t blow hard out of the north, Venice will offer that three-day consistency that the Classic competitors are looking for.

Capt. Cade Thomas is more known for putting his customers on the speckled trout and redfish bite down the river, but actually he and his dad Donnie Ray got started chasing bass at Venice.

And when he gets the time, Thomas trades in his popping corks and leadhead jigs for plastic worms and spinnerbaits to get in on some of the best bass fishing Louisiana has to offer.

“Bass are getting ready to spawn down here during February,” he said. “That means the main pattern will pretty much be fishing in dead-end canals. The Wagon Wheel and Delta Duck will have a lot of fish. Venice Marina and Cypress Cove will hold fish in February. And there are some dead-end canals up around Fort Jackson that are also pretty good in February.”

Depending on the conditions, Thomas says bass could be at the beginning stage of the spawn when they gang up at the mouths of the dead-end canals all the way to the actual spawning phase when they will spread out on the flats in the far backs of the canals.

“I like to get as far back in the canals as I can get unless the tide is falling,” Thomas said. “If the tide is falling, it’s good to start on the outside of the dead ends and pick the corners and work your way in as long as there’s enough water to get in.”

Thomas says the three main baits to use in Venice during February are spinnerbaits, black/blue 3/8-ounce jigs and Texas-rigged red shad plastic worms with 1/4-ounce weights. The spinnerbaits work well at the points and around any grass in the canals, and the jigs and worms are for pitching to the cane and other isolated pieces of cover.

“One of the keys this time of year is to look for dead-ends that run due north or east to west,” Thomas explained. “If I’m around 15 or 20 dead-end canals and I didn’t have time to fish them all, I’d definitely stick with these. The ones to the north don’t get all the cold wind and the water doesn’t fall out as quick, and the ones that run east to west get more sunlight.”

Thomas concluded by pointing out that he believed if somebody were to go to Venice and the conditions were right, he could expect anywhere from 20 to 25 pounds a day that would probably be made up of four 3- to 4-pound fish with maybe a 6- to 7-pound kicker in the bag.

Previews of the other areas Classic anglers are likely to fish are available on the dedicated Bassmaster Classic Updates page.

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About Chris Ginn 778 Articles
Chris Ginn has been covering hunting and fishing in Louisiana since 1998. He lives with his wife Jennifer and children Matthew and Rebecca along the Bogue Chitto River in rural Washington Parish. His blog can be found at