Capt. Martha Spencer of Southern Catch Outfitters and co-host of Bayou Wild TV said 2020 has been a banner year for yellowfin tuna out of Venice.
“The last two years, the loop current didn’t push in,” she said. “People were trying to figure out why. We weren’t finding any tuna. This year, they have been anywhere from the shelf rigs to the floaters, abundantly. There has been more bait around and fish to be found. We’ve noticed, month by month, the fish getting bigger and bigger and bigger.
“Shrimp-boat season was okay. It didn’t last very long, in contrast to past years where people shrimp-boat fished. The difference this year is that the rig fishing has been better, and that’s been the focus. There has been a lot of triple-digit fish caught on the rigs this fall thus far.”
Spencer (southerncatchoutfitters.com) said this has been the best year she has seen in 5 or 6 years.
“It’s been a good, solid year, all year,” she said. “There were tuna caught every month. What’s really neat about this year, also, is the big-eye tunas that migrate through came in a bit earlier. Several were caught in October, when they usually start getting caught in November.”
Predictions for December
Spencer said December is the transition out of live bait and onto cut bait.
“Live bait will start to thin out around this time, so you can start thinking about cut bait and chunking again,” she said. “Barracuda, bonito, blackfin all work. There’s still mullet around, but I really wouldn’t use those on the rigs. That’s not to say you can’t have success with mullet, but always have a Plan B in terms of bait.
“Have a few pink MirrOlures on hand. We start to use those more in the winter. They are always a go-to and a good lure to use. Always carry a popper, too. Have a rod ready, just in case you come across open-water fish. Be on the lookout for open water fish when you are heading to rigs. Pay attention to the birds. A lot of times in the early season, the tuna are just migrating around and aren’t at a rig.”
Spencer said in December, people start thinking about Lump fishing again.
“They have been caught as early as December, so it is a place to consider, but there are no guarantees,” she said. “We’ve caught them as early as late December, early January there. So it is always a place to check out. After all, it’s only 24 miles or so from the Northeast Pass. There’s a chance they can come in early since the big-eye tuna came in early.”
Spencer said weather is going to be your biggest concern in December.
“In terms of fronts, the fishing has been pretty good ahead of the fronts,” she said. “The days that we fished before weather comes in, the fish have been pretty good. Post-front fishing is tricky. With the pressure change, they will lock up.
“You have to get a good weather window. I would look for a 3- or 4-day window where it looks like it is starting to calm down. I wouldn’t try to fish a 1- or 2-day window, because it can change so quickly this time of year, and you don’t want to be caught out in that. Make sure that you are confident in your equipment, your radar. These are the months it matters more.
“And remember, you need to think about yourself in addition to fishing. It’s going to be colder, so bring layers.”