Target clean water close to passes, guide says
This fall was setting up to be epic for anglers launching out of Venice. The Mississippi River had been nice and low for a couple of months, and its waters were that beautiful shade of green that signals crazy fishing action.
But that’s all out the window now, as torrential rainfalls up north have driven the river sky high. Some forecasts predict it topping 10 feet in New Orleans before the end of September.
You’ll be able to more easily plow the river than catch fish from its waters.
But that doesn’t mean you can’t catch fish out of the popular fishing port. They just won’t be in the river itself.
“If it goes up 7 feet in New Orleans, (the river) will be muddy,” Venice Charters’ Capt. Brent Roy said. “The fish won’t be in the river.
“The fish will start moving into the bays and out into the Gulf.”
He said the rising water stopped the normal September transition that already was underway.
“The fish aren’t going to get into the river until it gets green and salty,” Roy said.
Even on a normal year, that doesn’t usually happen for trout until November. But redfish should be pretty thick by this time.
Roy said this major rise could mean those reds never return to the river during 2018.
“If the river stays up, the fish might not come back in until next spring,” the veteran guide said.
And he isn’t really saddened by the situation.
“For us in Venice, when the river is (low and) slow, it scatters the redfish out so much,” Roy explained.
Sure, initially anglers can sit in one spot and wail on the reds, but as more water cleans up those groups of fish will thin out and make it harder to catch limits.
A rising river, ironically, makes it easier to catch numbers — if you know how to adjust.
“If the river rises, it’s going to initially push them back into the Gulf,” Roy said. “I can remember two years ago having to catch them in the bays.”
And that’s what savvy anglers will do this month: Head to the bays on the edges of the marsh surrounding the river from Empire down to the crow’s foot.
“The fish are still there,” Roy said. “People think they disappear, but they are somewhere. You just have to find them.”
Roy will run the outside bays and beaches looking for the cleanest water possible.
“You’ve absolutely got to find the clean water closest to the passes,” he said.
It’s hard to say where that will be, as it changes day to day.
“That’s going to be determined by the wind,” Roy said.
And this angler knows better than to run from the wind, as many anglers do.
“If you have a hard south wind for three or four days, those banks of the south side will clean up,” Roy said. “The hard winds are going to blow off that less-dense freshwater.”
Take Bay Adams in the Empire area, for instance. Several days of 25 mph winds will make the bay a perfect target.
“That whole east side will get green,” Roy said.
Of course, you have to be offering the right bait, and Roy said the choice is easy: dead shrimp under corks.
“Dead bait is almost a necessity,” he said.