Recreational fishing reopens at the mouth of the Mississippi River today at 6 p.m., the Governor’s Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness announced. The area has been closed since early May when oil from the destroyed BP Deepwater Horizon began making landfall.
“Miracles never cease to happen,” die-hard Venice angler and camp owner Ed Sexton told LouisianaSportsman.com. “For me it’s a big deal. My camp is at the mouth of the river, so that means I’ll be able to stay close to my camp now. I’m really excited it’s open.”
The opening means anglers can catch and keep fish caught between Pass a Loutre on the east side of the main river channel southward to Southwest Pass – and area that had been opened only for catch-and-release fishing since July 15.
Click here for the latest map of closures in the area. Remaining closures in Terrebonne and Timbalier bays can be viewed here, while closures in St. Bernard Parish are shown here. An interactive map can be accessed here.
The opening was announced without comment, but the Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Commission reopened the bulk of the state’s coastal waters to catch-and-keep fishing July 15 after tests hundreds of tissue samples were found to be contamination free. The area south of Venice, along with some other isolated areas, were kept closed because of concerns surrounding heavy oiling.
Sexton said he’s run through the area during that past couple of weeks, and said he hasn’t found much in the way of oil.
“My camp is in South Pass, and I’ve ridden all the way to Main Pass across Redfish Bay and I have not seen any oil,” he said. “You still see some boom out and you still see some oil in the cane, but there we haven’t seen any floating oil.”
And Sexton, who is one of the experts cited in the book “Trout Masters: How Louisiana’s Best Catch the Lunkers,” said he will be working the waters this weekend and expects the fishing to be fantastic.
“I’m going, without a doubt,” he said. “They haven’t seen a bait in three months.”
The waters he’s fished since fishing was reopened in upriver waters have been almost devoid of anglers despite excellent fishing, so Sexton said he hoped anglers will hit the water in full force this weekend.
“I hope everybody will take advantage of it,” he said. “I’m not sure what lodging will be like, but at least the opportunity will be there, and I think the fishing will be great.”
And there’s plenty of live bait available.
“I know that Venice Marina has a lot of bait and a lot of shrimp,” Sexton said. “Frelich’s has a lot of shrimp. I’m sure Delta Marina has a lot of shrimp.”
While some have continued to worry over the wisdom of eating fish, Sexton said he has and will continue to eat them until tests prove there is a concern.
“All the tests have come back saying they’re safe,” he said. “I use the smell and taste test: If it doesn’t smell or taste bad, I eat it.
“I’ve had zero fish smell or taste bad, and I eat fish on a regular basis at my house, once or twice a week.”
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