Outdoor Corner: Venice

Lyle Johnson

The ride down La. 23 to the tip of the boot of our state is one that I’ve made many times. Unfortunately, it’s been a while since I’ve done it, and it doesn’t happen as much as I’d like. The chance to do it one more time came last week.

Goosie and I -- along with our host, Mark Kramer -- headed down that highway last Thursday to embark on one more adventure. I knew there would be much discussion about the way things used to be along with the anticipation of what was in store for us this time around. It never gets old.

Goosie and Mark hold up four of the over 30 bass we caught on the first day of our bass fishing adventure in Venice.

I’ve been making this ride for more than 43 years, most of the time with Goosie as I was privileged to be a guest on many a duck hunting trip to their lease on Baptiste Collette. It’s where I got my introduction to salt water fishing.

My favorite memory is setting around the fire, playing our guitars after a meal of some sort that usually consisted of char-broiled oysters that we had picked fresh from a wild oyster reef while fishing that day following the duck hunt that morning.

Ascension Outdoors TV Show was on the road again for some bass fishing. We were a bit unsure of the outcome as conditions for catching fish were probably the worst we could imagine.

The water was rock-bottom low. It was so low that when Mark called a friend who runs crew boats, he told us he’d never seen it so low. Combine that with a full moon and winds blowing 15 to 20 mph with gusts higher, this could spell tough times for us.

The adrenalin was pumping as we turned into the driveway at Cypress Cove where we would launch the boat. It took a little while to get our gear on for the cold ride down the Mississippi river as it was 45 degrees, but we finally got underway.

Just as we suspected, the wind was howling and the water levels exposed way more mud banks than we wanted to see. This made for treacherous driving after we got in the marsh. We didn’t want to spend the day on a mud flat waiting for somebody to come and pull us off after beaching the boat.

Mark is a very skilled driver and knows the area very well, so after a 25-minute ride the boat settled into the area we were going to start our morning. Kramer was very disappointed as the water was a little on the muddy side. But hey, a little muddy water never stopped a bass fisherman from South Louisiana!

We would be using Mark’s tackle this day as he builds custom rods along with the spinner baits we chose. Just like any good angler worth his or her salt, Kramer had about 30 rods in the boat with an ample supply of the baits with various skirt color combinations along with the silver, gold and chartreuse spinners attached.

It’s late winter heading into spring -- and we really haven’t had much of a winter, so the spawning (nesting and laying of eggs) activities are well into action, especially down south where the temperatures are a little warmer.

According to the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries biologists, the spawn begins in south Louisiana when the water temperatures are at least 65°F. Males find nesting sites with firm bottoms in shoreline areas with water 1 to 4 feet deep.

Their coloring becomes vivid to attract females to their nests for mating. Females spawn once a year but may deposit eggs in several nests. They produce between 5,000 and 120,000 eggs and the eggs hatch in 3 to 5 days.

So even though the water was stained and it was cold, the temperature of the water was near 67 degrees so that gave us some hope. As bass prepare for the spawn they go on a feeding rampage to build up fat that helps them endure the annual ritual, especially the females.

The morning started very slow as Mark and I manned the rods and reels while Goosie had the video camera in his hands. The tide was just getting to its low before it began to rise along with the full moon, which means the bite would probably start later in the morning.

Mark boated the first fish and slowly but surely the action picked up as we boated over 30 of the football sized bass. Most of them were caught on the spinner baits while a few were fooled with a plastic worm fished with a drop shot or on a small jig head.

Like always, you never know what might hit your bait in Venice, a pleasant addition of five redfish were added to the catch as well. So back to the launch we headed to take care of our catch, eat supper, get some rest and prepare to do it again on Friday.

Our morning started out a little earlier with much less wind, which made for a pleasant ride and fishing conditions. The pattern pretty much repeated itself with the spinnerbaits and worms catching our fish.

As the morning progressed the bite picked up and we heartbreakingly left them biting because of the long ride home. The numbers were the same but the size was a little better. This was another memorable trip down Hwy 23 to Venice for the books!

Seven year old Sage Bourgeois from St Amant caught this bass in a pond behind her house fishing with worms.

Just a short reminder that the Fishing for Tucker Bass Tournament will be Saturday, Feb. 6, at Doiron’s Landing in Stevensville. The registration fee is $100 per team. The payout will be 75 percent to the anglers, 25 percent to the event. The payout for the first place team will be determined by participation; $1,000 with 50 teams registered and $2,000 for 100 teams and $500 will be awarded for Big Bass.

You can get an entry form at www.fishingfortucker.com and any other information you might need. You can also email fishing4tucker@gmail.com or go to their Facebook page or by calling Ryan Lavigne at (225) 921-9332 or Eddie Hymel at (225) 610-9962. This is a great cause to support and have a good time fishing as well.

We live in a great state with a great bunch of folks that go all out to help their community and those in it. So until next time, remember to keep the slack out and set the hook hard. Have fun in the outdoors, be safe and may God truly bless you!