Capt. Brandon Carter watched several 8-pound speckled trout cross his gunwales this spring, supported by a rubber-coated landing net. Does that mean Venice is reclaiming its mantle as one of the premier trophy trout destinations along the Gulf Coast?
Time will tell, but Carter thinks it might.
“Up until 7 or 8 years ago, this was normal,” he said. “In the last 7 or 8 years, we’ve had a lot of high rivers, and the numbers of bigger fish have been more scarce.”
Carter, who has been guiding at the extreme southern tip of Plaquemines Parish for more than two decades, began seeing evidence things were picking up 3 years ago.
“Our fishing was kind of tapering down until 2017, and then it kind of exploded,” he said. “That was the best year in at least the previous 10. We had guides who were targeting redfish in redfish spots, and they’d leave a couple hours later with their limits of speckled trout. On the radio everyday, we’d talk about how it was like the old days.
“Then, in ’18 and ’19 we had even more days like that. The last couple of years, we’ve seen glimpses of the old days. I had a few days last year that would rival any bite I’ve ever seen in Venice in my entire life. I had one day in particular where we were catching no 5-pounders, but no 2-pounders. Every fish was between 3 and 4 pounds.
“It was like they were jumping out of the water to catch the bait, and when you reeled a fish in, there would 10 or 12 fish swimming in with that fish trying to get the bait from it.”
Numbers are back
Not every day this year has been THAT productive, but Carter said the fishing has been good even on days when it really shouldn’t have been.
“I don’t think it’s been as consistent this year as it was 20 years ago, but we’ve caught a lot of fish this year despite the wind being absolutely horrific,” he said. “The conditions have been terrible, but we’re still catching fish. That tells me the numbers are pretty strong.”
The 8-pounders Carter and his clients have caught this year haven’t come on any special baits designed specifically for trophy trout. Every single one has been caught on either a live shrimp or midnight mullet-colored Matrix Shad, he said.
But they have come from areas that historically produce trophy trout.
“Certain spots are going to hold bigger fish in general,” Carter said. “All the big fish I’ve caught this year have come from spots where I expected them to be. We haven’t just lucked up and caught any in a place where I thought, ‘Man, what is a big fish doing here?’ They’ve all been in places that they should have been.”
A strong July?
Will that strong action for big fish continue into July? Quite possibly. Carter said most anglers don’t think of July as a prime trophy trout month, but he’s seen STAR winners hit the scales down in Venice in July. The fishing, in general, benefits from a falling Mississippi River.
That doesn’t mean the fish move inside yet, however. Quite the opposite, Carter said.
In May and June, he was still catching trout in interior bays, but that’ll change in July.
“They’ll still hold small trout, but they won’t hold any quality fish,” he said. “(In July) I’m fishing the extreme outer edges of the delta, I’m fishing the rigs, and I’m fishing the islands.”
Which of those features he hits on any given day depends on recent action, he said.
“Usually we’re on a 3- to 4-day pattern,” Carter said. “For three or four days, everyone will be fishing the islands, the fish are stacked up like cordwood, and then things thin out a little bit. Somebody will go poking around at the rigs and find them, and for the next three, four, five days they’re at the rigs, and then you have to find them again.”
Located at the end of Highway 23, the waters around Venice are accessible from two full-service marinas: Venice Marina and Cypress Cove Marina.