Venice’s fall variety includes lemons and bulls

Impressive cobia and monster redfish can be found in Venice waters in the fall, and Capt. Sal Gagliano shares his tips.

It’s undisputed, an absolute certainty amongst saltwater anglers.

Venice is the fishing capital of Louisiana, especially in the fall of the year.

Just where else can an angler find bull redfish, slot redfish, cobia, tripletail and speckled trout all in locations that are an easy run from Venice Marina and all on the same day?

And back in July, Venice anglers were salivating over the fall prospects.

The Big Muddy gauge at Carrollton was already reading 7.3 feet and falling, evoking visions of upcoming, heavy-action tight-lining adventures with scores of bull reds invading the interior canals and marshes within easy access of Venice Marina.

“In the fall, Venice is just a dream destination for fishing,” Sportsman TV producer Jared Serigne’ said. “The river is low, the water is right and people are catching fish. And to me, Venice is the redfish capital of the world. I have filmed tournaments where anglers ran for two hours just to get down there.”

And as for rod-bending action, Venice is incomparable in delivering a diversity of species for anglers seeking such venue.

“You just can’t beat the fishing in Venice,” Bassmaster Elite Professional and Sportsman TV host Greg Hackney said. “There ain’t no fooling around when these fish hit. Just about everything swimming out there puts on a huge bite and a heckuva fight!”

During the early fall of last year, Hackney and Serigne’ joined Capt. Sal Gagliano of Southeast Charters (504-782-7593) to get into some super lemonfish (cobia, ling) and redfish action.

Hackney had already been in Venice catching wahoo, and Serigne’ later made the 80-mile drive south of New Orleans on Louisiana 23 to join him to film the action aboard Galliano’s vessel.

When not on the BASS tournament trail, Hackney enjoys the early fall saltwater action in Venice every year. The Bassmaster angler-of-the-year contender eases into all the autumn outdoors action Venice can afford — the fishing, gator hunts and the early teal season.

Venice lemons

After a quick run to the nearest satellite rigs, Hackney was the first on deck to cast one of Gagliano’s homemade cobia jigs toward the base of the structure.

The angler worked the jig by moving it along and hopping it in the depths that Gagliano had suggested.

“He’s on,” Hackney said with rod arching and drag spurting.

Hackney was actually running fore to aft on Gagliano’s vessel, his reel metering out line to the fish’s strong antagonistic pull. Suddenly and without warning, his line went dead slack.

Gagliano had another rod ready complete with jig tied on, and in no time Hackney had a second fish on. With his drag screaming again and rod in a huge heaving arch, the angler had a strong battle on his hands.

The lemonfish came up to the surface on a few occasions as Serigne’ filmed and photos were taken.

Hackney’s prize was gaffed and a few minutes later, he stood on the deck showing off his cobia weighing 28 pounds on a Boga Grip.

Moving over to another satellite rig just a tad south of our initial location, Gagliano had Hackney moving that jig again and another fight ensued. This time it was a smaller lemon yet still one meeting the required length of 33 inches. The fish was placed in the cooler.

“These fish will be here in the fall through October and early November,” Gagliano said. “To find them, anglers will have to run to the West Delta rigs.”

And it’s mostly blind fishing for the lemons as these waters do not clear easily and the fish will often be suspended.

And, usually, it’s the smaller satellite rigs that hold their interest, not the larger ones with platforms.

“Look to waters 30- to 40-feet deep, and just ease up to these rigs with your trolling motor,” Gagliano said. “Sometimes you’ll have to work your jig up from the bottom, and at other times these fish can be taken by making shallower casts and just reeling that jig in with some twitching.

“But there’s certainly plenty of lemonfish to be taken at these rigs in the fall.”

For the beastly lemons of Venice, Gagliano uses 7-foot medium/heavy spinning rods complete with Shimano 4000 reels spooled with 30-pound PowerPro braid.

He makes his own lures for lemons, redheaded jig heads with white and chartreuse streamers.

Venice bull reds

The lemonfish bite waned as the skies darkened with rain on the horizon, and Gagliano motored his crew north to a cut on the east portion of a tributary at the mouth of the river. They were surrounded on all sides by vast acres of Roseau cane, and slicks were occurring along the edges of the banks just adjacent to submerged cane stubble.

Gagliano and Hackney began by fishing a series of slicks that were running parallel to the channel. The slicks were wide, and certainly the reds were feasting.

Hackney had tied on a Strike King Red Eye Shad and was working the lure by running it along points and channel edges. Gagliano was working Strike King’s Rage Shrimp that had a generous portion of Rage Tail Saltwater Scent gel applied to it.

“Ohhh, it’s a good one here,” Hackney said as his drag screamed again with line metering out into the depths. Once the 30- inch bull was netted and aboard, photos were quickly taken with Hackney’s trademark grin showing up very well.

Then the unfortunate happened.

During the photo session, a mishap occurred when the redfish made a sudden and unexpected move in Hackney’s hands. As a result, one of the hooks of the Red Eye Shad thrust into the meaty portion of the angler’s right hand.

Gagliano’s experience with such accidents was obvious as he used the loop-pull technique to disengage the hook from Hackney’s flesh.

With a sudden, unexpected yank on a line attached to the bend of the hook, Gagliano pulled up and away from the hook-eye. The hook then came out the way it went in with little pain experienced by Hackney.

First aid was then applied and both Hackney and Gagliano were back in the fishing business of the day.

Just a little later, Gagliano hooked onto another bull red, and his reel drag was screaming with his rod in an arch.

“This is a good one too!” he said.

When measuring the fish, it demonstrated to be almost a near clone of Hackney’s fish— another one at the 30-inch mark on the ruler.

Hackney went on later to catch yet another bull red on the Red Eye Shad, one just a tad shorter than the other two. All of the bulls were released.

Regarding the Venice bull red bite, Gagliano admitted that it is best under an outgoing tide, but these fish were actually taken during an incoming one.

“Really, we have these fish here all year, but it gets fast and furious in the fall,” Gagliano said.

Locations where the angler has found the famed Venice bulls of the fall include: Main Pass, South Pass, the Southwest Pass jetties, Pass a Loutre, Tiger Pass, Octave Pass and Baptiste Collette Bayou.

Of course location is important, but Gagliano advises anglers that success is tied to an outgoing tide and the presence of schools of mullet in any given area. Roseau patches and rock structures in these areas can hold plenty of these bronze brutes and the baitfish they follow.

As for tackle and lures, Gagliano will use the same rod, reel and line combinations as he would in catching lemonfish.

Strike King Rage Tail Shrimp are his top choice of plastics for these fish. And the angler also enjoys topwater action for bulls when his plugs of choice are chartreuse and bone Heddon Super Spooks.

He will also take these fish with Strike King’s Redfish Magic spinnerbaits.

Venice slot reds

The anglers’ day was not over as Gagliano then ventured to Grand Pass where the anglers were again greeted by acres of Roseau patches.

“There are always smaller redfish here, the ones most anglers like to keep and grill,” he said.

After fishing the area a while with moderate success, Gagliano steered his craft into a bend in the channel with wooded structure near an eroding shoreline.

Gagliano, Hackney and Serigne’ began throwing market shrimp in shallow waters where there was a fast current flowing.

“They’re here,” Gagliano said upon setting the hook on his first cast.

Hackney and Serigne’ were also catching slot reds mixed in with smaller throw-backs.

“Geez, they’re piled up in here,” Serigne’ said.

Gagliano was not surprised.

“This place is very special and always holds slot reds and smaller ones,” the captain said. “When there’s current heading out, limits can be taken very quickly.”

Of course, fishing with live shrimp also attracted the catfish, and Serigne’ enjoyed catching and filming these as well.

Although the anglers continued to use the same tackle for lemons and bull reds, Gagliano said light tackle would take these slot reds readily and give anglers more action to enjoy.

“Besides the market shrimp, these reds will take Strike King’s Redfish Magic spinnerbaits and the Rage Shrimp with the Rage Tail Saltwater Scent gel applied generously,” he said.

Video was captured by Serigne’ and photos were taken during the group’s encounters with the smaller reds.

Once limits of slot reds were taken, the anglers declared the day over and Gagliano motored back to Venice Marina for lunch while the fish cleaning was conducted downstairs.

“I’ve been knowing Sal for quite a while,” Serigne’ said. “He is very knowledgeable and experienced in Venice as he has fished these waters his entire life. He also has a laid back attitude, and it was really cool to get Hackney and him together to make this show.”

According to Gagliano, the Venice bull red bite and the cobia action will continue from now until sometime in November. Cobias will range 15- to 70-pounds near the satellite rigs, and Venice’s famed bull reds can run upward to 40 pounds.

Tripletail lagniappe

Although the anglers didn’t fish for them that day, Gagliano also added that great tripletail action occurs south of Venice in the fall.

He will find the fish, many of them fat and feisty, on the rigs on the east side of the river.

They can be taken by using the same tackle and lures used for redfish — Strike King’s Rage Tail Shrimp as well as the Strike King Redfish Magic spinnerbait.

Other great locations to find tripletail are the Sandy Point rigs.

Louisiana anglers are reminded that the Wildlife and Fisheries Commission has established a five-fish-per-day creel limit with an 18-inch length minimum.

Getting there

It can’t be denied that Venice is truly a very special fishing jewel to Louisiana. It has been hailed more often than not by many major outdoor publications as one of the best fishing locations not only in the United States, but in the world.

Due mainly to other great locations for fishing all along the Louisiana coastline, it still remains underrated by many resident Louisiana anglers.

This vast Mississippi Delta paradise is located some 85 miles below New Orleans, and Louisiana Highway 23 from Belle Chasse to Venice is the major thoroughfare.

With enforced speed limits, anglers should allow approximately two hours to get there from the Big Easy.

There are two major areas of access to fish the Venice area, and both offer launches, lodging and great cuisine.

Venice Marina is located at 237 Sports Marina Road. For more information, call (504) 534-9357 or visit online at

Cypress Cove Marina & Lodge is located at 235 Cypress Cove Road. Call (504) 534-9289 or visit

Some of Venice’s best inside and outside fishing is heating up this month, and now’s the time to plan your adventure.

About Chris Berzas 368 Articles
Chris Berzas has fished and hunted in the Bayou State ever since he could hold a rod and shoot a shotgun. Berzas has been a freelancer featured in newspapers, magazines, television and DVDs since 1989.