If you plan to head down to catch reds in the Mississippi River this fall, here are some things to keep in mind:
1) You shouldn’t be afraid of the Mississippi River, but you should definitely respect it. It’s not a place for flat boats, and it’s unsafe for any recreational-sized boats in a hard southeast wind that blows straight up the river.
2) You will definitely encounter some big wakes. Make sure you stay far enough off the rocks that these waves don’t push you into them.
3) If the current is light — and it should be when the river’s low — troll upcurrent to slow your pace and make sure your boat’s back end doesn’t want to constantly pass you up.
4) A trolling motor with well-charged batteries is just about essential. If you don’t have one, park at the mouths of cuts and fish the corners. You will definitely catch many more fish, however, with a trolling motor.
5) Bring extra spinnerbaits because you may lose some in the rocks.
6) Cast as close to the rocks as possible. Baitcasting gear makes this much easier, but you can still accomplish it if you’re experienced with spinning tackle.
7) You’ll catch a bunch of undersized redfish. Be sure to let these fish go. You’ll boat more than enough reds between the 16- to 27-inch slot to take home your limit for dinner.
8) You also may run across some flounder, stripers, bass and speckled trout. The flounder and stripers will get much more active as the weather cools.
9) Fog isn’t usually an issue in September, but it frequently is in October and November. The fog at the mouth of the river can get so bad that you can barely see the bow of your boat from the transom. It should go without saying, but don’t venture out into it. Stay at the dock and wait until it breaks.
10) If you want to make a weekend of it, Cypress Cove Marina (504-534-9289) and Venice Marina (504-534-9357) offer lodging.