Potential No. 2 mutton snapper in the state

When Lisa Schlitzkus booked her September charter trip, she was planning on catching tuna. But storm-churned waters had something else waiting to be hooked – a 20-pound mutton snapper.

“We’ve been here before,” said Schlitzkus, who hails from Lake City, Fla. “We come to Louisiana all the time to fish; we love it. We were originally coming to catch tuna, but because of the storm, we targeted bottomfish.”

Schlitzkus said the change in plans had her and her crew searching for big grouper in the Gulf out of Port Fourchon Marina; she was shocked when she reeled in a massive mutton snapper.

“It’s not the biggest fish I’ve ever caught,” she said. “But it’s definitely the biggest mutton snapper.”

Joey Maciasz with Down the Bayou Charters facilitated the trip. He said paperwork on the catch is being processed, as it has the potential to be the No. 2 mutton snapper in Louisiana history at 20 pounds.

“She is from Florida, so it’s cool because we caught a Florida fish,” he said of Schlitzkus and the snapper. “They’re normally caught in Florida and the Bahamas … really any Caribbean area because it’s a reef fish. We caught it in about 250 foot of water.”

Maciasz said the seven-minute or so fight Schlitzkus waged for the catch yielded surprising results.

“It was such a big mutton snapper that we thought it was a hybrid,” he said. “It was so large that we had never seen a mutton snapper that big. Once we got back to the dock and had a biologist identify it, we were pretty shocked.”

Unique catches

Maciasz said it is probable that the hurricane season, which frequently churned Gulf of Mexico waters, brought the fish in.

“That’s the cool thing about us,” he said of his company, which he launched in 2017. “We go really far out west to areas untouched by fishermen … the style we do and the places we go – it’s far, but it’s very rewarding.”

Daniel Rainbolt, Josh Sparks, Micha Rainbolt, Chris Williams and Lisa Schlitzkus after their September trip with Down the Bayou Charters.
Daniel Rainbolt, Josh Sparks, Micha Rainbolt, Chris Williams and Lisa Schlitzkus after their September trip with Down the Bayou Charters.

Maciasz said many clients this year have had a chance to hook unique catches.

“They get a chance to catch a fish that really nobody in Louisiana has ever caught, and that’s cool in itself,”  he said. “It makes it more exciting and keeps it interesting. Honestly, that’s why because I’ve been able to expand really quickly with the business …  the clients really get a kick out of it.”

Schlitzkus said the trip was definitely not her last.

“It was a great time,” she said. “We caught a ton of fish and everyone was really happy. It was a good trip. We want to come back and catch yellowfin.”

Current Top 3 state record Mutton snapper

Rank    Weight  Angler                    Where Caught          Date Caught
1.          22.31   Michael Clement    Green Canyon            April 2019
2.          17.60   Jason Marks           Main Pass                   Aug. 2002
3.          14.38   Brian Thibodeaux  Mississippi Canyon    Oct. 2006

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