Plaquemines Parish has much to offer

Lyle Johnson
Steve Gautreau and Bill Toler with two really nice Venice bass.

It’s been a while since I’ve headed down to the end of Hwy. 23 in Plaquemines Parish, but this past Saturday I had the pleasure of accompanying Jeff Bruhl on a bass fishing trip to Venice.

The last time I made this trip was shortly after hurricanes Katrina and Rita. It was really eerie since the electricity hadn’t been restored everywhere, making the morning ride very dark.

The ride home was during daytime, so the full impact of the storms was very visible and it shook me to the core. Along with all the desertion, two things really got my attention. The first was the sulphur plant in Port Sulphur; it was gone. I couldn’t even tell where it was. The second was all the boats that floated up against the bridge in Empire.

This trip was quite different; life was back at near full capacity. Houses had been rebuilt; motels and businesses were at full tilt on this opening weekend of duck season. Satsumas and navel oranges were hanging on the trees and the stands were selling their wares. Venice is getting ready for the Orange Festival on Dec. 4 and 5. Things are pretty much back to normal.

That was evident as we made our way to Venice Marina to launch Jeff’s boat.

Vehicles and empty trailers greeted us on the road to the marina, so that meant their parking lot was full and spilled out on the road. As an inconvenience as this usually is, I didn’t mind the long walk back to the launch as this signaled that business is good.

The ride to the Mississippi River was really enjoyable as we took in the sights of the hustle and bustle of the water traffic; fishermen, duck hunters, commercial fishermen, fishing guides along with the big crew boats nearly made it like an interstate highway. It was a good sight.

We hit the “Jump” and headed down-river to Octave Pass and after that I was pretty much lost. When we stopped, we were in a Roseau cane studded canal and it was on. Jeff’s third pitch in the canes produced a scrappy, three pound bass that fell victim to a Berkley Chigger Craw and that pattern dominated our fishing the rest of the day.

Pitching in the canes can be a little tricky so you have to have the right equipment. Selection of a rod is important and Jeff uses a 7½’ Challenger flippin’ stick to get a good hook set and get the bass out of the heavy cover.

That heavy cover calls for a top rate line that won’t break so his choice is 25 pound test Trilene 100 percent fluorocarbon. The line is invisible underwater and doesn’t have much stretch for a really good hook set. It doesn’t break easily which is a good thing for pulling those big bass out of the canes and can take the wear and tear very well.

A few pitches later, I stuck my first bass of the day on a Strike King Rage Tail Craw that I dipped the pinchers in chartreuse/garlic dye. Both of us used the dye on the craw baits; this color makes the baits resemble bluegill colors as it falls and that’s what they were feeding on in the canes.

We’d stopped on a point that had lots of current, so that went on the memory card and paid off well for the rest of the day. We also found them near run outs but current was the main key as it positions the fish near cover, just out of the running water. Concentrate your pitches in those areas and you’ll make many more casts in productive water, upping your chances to catch more fish.

Our secondary plastic bait that was really productive was a Berkley Power Worm, red shad worm in the 7½” size. Red shad is a really productive color in Venice and the Power Worm is one of the best.

We had plenty of company in the area we fished and a few of the boats had anglers from Ascension Parish in them. Bill Toler and Steve Gautreau were in one of them and David Cavell was in another. We saw them several times and they did pretty well catching some of the bounty of bass in Venice.

After catching around 40 bass, we decided to catch a few redfish to bring home so our tactics changed a little. The river is low and clear, so the rocks on the way back is usually a good place to locate the redfish.

We changed up baits, tying on a Bill Lewis Rat-L-Trap to bounce off the rocks and a Stanley Wedge Plus spinner bait to entice the reds into the live well.

After fishing for a while without any fortune, Jeff let his Rat-L-Trap fall like a worm and “Bam;” he had a fish on but it was another bass.

We spent the next hour or so trying to catch what is usually an easy target but wound up catching about 10 or so more bass. We finished up the day with around fifty bass for our tally; not a bad day at all.

On the ride back I sort of just laid back and recalled memories of the places I’d frequented many times over the past 35 years. Venice Inn was back and full of occupants. Then came Frelichs’ Seafood where we usually buy our bait; it was the fourth or fifth building change. After each storm they rebuilt their family establishment larger each time. You could buy a 10 pound, homemade fruitcake during the holidays back in the day.

Then came La Café Casa where you can still get one of the best hamburgers anywhere. You’ll never know who you might see there. We met Parish President Billy Nungesser who was getting a cold soft drink after a hard day working in his yard. “I finally got a break and my honey-do list was really long,” he told us.

I sat back in my seat and breathed a sigh of contentment. A great day fishing with world-class company and the folks along Hwy. 23 returning to a normal life; Ah, life is good. Remember to keep the slack out and set the hook hard.

Until next time have fun in the outdoors, be safe and may God bless you.

Jeff Bruhl with a 3 pound chunk that was enticed with a Berkley PowerBait red shad worm.