Northern Mississippi River gauges key to Venice fishing, Hackney says

Sportsman TV host and Elite Series pro shares key to epic bite

Fall is here. Temperatures have finally started to moderate, and some of the year’s best fishing will be available without getting heat stroke.

And Bassmaster Elite Series pro and Sportsman TV host Greg Hackney said he launches his boat at Venice as often as possible.

“You’re getting in that time of year when the (Mississippi) river gets green,” Hackney said in a live Facebook feed from Venice Marina early this morning. “The trout start showing up in the Jump (and) they show up on the jetties in the main river.

“You can catch bass, white bass, redfish and trout — all on the same stuff.”

Of course, prime fishing is all about water clarity, and that’s dictated by the rise and fall of the river. A low river (generally below 4 feet at the New Orleans gauge) means water should be green and clear, while a higher reading hints at muddy conditions.

“The funny thing about the Mississippi (River) is that up the river (when there is) a big rise the water gets up high and spreads out, but when you get in this part of the country, basically you don’t see a huge rise in the water level — it just speeds up the amount of fresh water that’s blowing through places, and it dirties up the water,” Hackney said.

And there’s nothing worse than making the long drive to the end of Highway 23 in the wee hours of the day only to find the river rolling mud. Sure, you’ll likely still catch some fish (it IS Venice, after all), but the fishing will be nothing like when the river is right.

The good news: Hackney said there’s a way to know if you should even bother with the trip.

“Because I spend a lot of time on the river, I … watch (river gauges) way up the river,” he explained. “A lot of times, if it’s going to be two weeks before you come down here — or a week — you can look several stages up the river and tell if there’s any water coming.”

It’s pretty obvious that a rise up north means that water will eventually arrive at the mouth of Old Man River, but Hackney said you can pretty much pinpoint when a rise will happen.

“You about figure if it’s rising 10 gauges up (the river) it takes it 10 days to get here,” the veteran angler said. “It’s typically about a day between each gauge.

“So if the Greenville (Mississippi) gauge came up 10 feet, you just count the gauges down to the New Orleans gauge.”

Since there are seven gauges south of Greenville, Miss., you can figure that big wave of water will take roughly a week to hit New Orleans.

So don’t go to Venice blind: Look upriver and plan to hit the area when conditions are prime.

Editor’s note: Keep up with today’s fishing by watching for live-feed notifications on the Louisiana Sportsman fan page.

About Andy Crawford 863 Articles
Andy Crawford has spent nearly his entire career writing about and photographing Louisiana’s hunting and fishing community. While he has written for national publications, even spending four years as a senior writer for B.A.S.S., Crawford never strayed far from the pages of Louisiana Sportsman. Learn more about his work at www.AndyCrawford.Photography.