If you think meeting a sea captain at a bar and planning a rendezvous the subsequent day on the southernmost tip of Louisiana is fishy, well, you’d be right.
But all judgement aside, it was about 150 pounds worth of delicious fish, and one of the most memorable trips I’ve taken in my life.
Last Thursday afternoon my friends and I were headed seaward, aimed for the oil rigs. We were on Venice Offshore Charters’ 26-foot double hull with Captain Brett Ryan and three of his friends.
Our excursion began in Venice – a town which lies roughly where Highway 23 forfeits its pavement to the Gulf of Mexico. It’s a small fishing village of anglers and dock dogs, where charter boat captains like Brett make a humble living out of taking their patrons to sea in search of red snapper, marlin and yellow fin tuna.
Venice Offshore Charters’ boat launches from Venice Marina at 6 a.m. So, customers often seek shelter at the marina the night before in order to avoid an absurdly early morning commute from New Orleans.
Other Venetian lodging options can be found by clicking here.
Fishin’ the Rigs
Day excursions, lasting anywhere between 6 and 8 hours, will take you deep into the tuna grounds of Mississippi Canyon. Cpt. Brett prefers fishing by oil rigs which, as I’m sure you’ve heard before, are scattered across a large portion of the Gulf of Mexico.
The rigs, which are teeming with marine life, are located at depths of up to 5,000 ft. Since they provide shelter for bait fish in open water, they are, ironically enough, a very industrial version of a pescetarian’s heaven.
Cpt. Brett will typically head for the oil rigs via South Pass or West Delta. After launching from the marina, we opted for South Pass stopping near quiet patches of river grass to catch menhaden, or poagies, for bait along the way.
On our way to the tuna grounds, we stopped at a rig a little past the 3-mile line, fitted our rods with poagies, and fished around 100 feet for snapper which Cpt. Brett would later grill for us under the starriest sky I’ve ever seen.
While you’re fishing for snapper, make sure your line is – at the very least – 100 feet deep. Otherwise, you’ll be catching young, inedible shark pups. If you catch one, don’t be disheartened. The good stuff is swimming just beyond that.
Jiggin’ for Black Fin and the coveted Yellow Fin
When the sun started setting, we headed toward ATP Titan, an oil rig 78 miles out of South Pass, located in one of the Mississippi Canyon’s deepest blocks. There are only three more rigs beyond this monstrosity.
We were fishing for tuna until we could see marlin fins slicing through the gray hours of the early morning. During our time at Titan, we hooked a few decent-sized black fin, but failed to jig the elusive yellow fin, which is prized for its flavorful meat.
On the way back from the tuna grounds, Captain Brett likes to stop at Moxy, which is good for amberjack and snowy grouper. Snowy grouper, which haunts the depths at around 600 feet, is best to catch with an electric reel.
How to Book a Charter:
There are six boats in Venice Offshore Fishing’s fleet. So, the captains can usually meet any accommodations.
Adhere to rules of the sea:
Bring pre-made food and drinks in your own ice chest.
Even with sea legs of steel, it’s best to take it easy on the fire water. Sea swells take a toll on a belly full of booze. With that being said, bring dramamine to battle the possibility of any sort of nausea.
Put sunscreen on every bit of exposed skin repeatedly, and unless you want to look like you got slapped on one side of your face by the fiery hand of Ra, remember not to fall asleep on your side.
Keep an extra ice chest at the marina so you can take your catch home. Also, bring a camera so you can easily back up your fishing tales with photographic evidence because you’ll probably eat all of it before most of your friends see.
Weather at sea is volatile. Layer your clothing. Bring rain gear, a hat and non-slip shoes.
Be superstitious. Don’t bring bananas. Throw away your change. Abandon your redheaded friends (Sorry, Alex). Get naked if you’re comfortable doing so. (Apparently, Neptune rewards those who shed their clothing in moonlight with a bounty harvest.)
Pray before launching.
Regardless of what you believe on land, all these things are a part of the maritime experience. Since you spend so much time following the laws of the land, you might as well allow the rules of the ocean to govern your seaward self for a singular day.
Who – David Byrne & St. Vincent
Let’s Go Surfing – The Drums
Waterloo Sunset – The Kinks
Still as the Night – Crystal Stilts
King of the Sea – Shannon & The Clams
Moon on the Sea’s Gate – Milagres
On the Sea – Beach House