A Guide to Offshore Fishing in Louisiana

Offshore Fishing In Louisiana

Where is the best place to go offshore fishing in Louisiana? There is no better place to start than Venice, Louisiana.  Venice, Louisiana offers some of the finest offshore saltwater fishing in North America! In fact, the Louisiana Gulf Coast is known the world over for providing a wide variety of saltwater fish and fishing experiences; the likes of which are hard to find anywhere else in the U.S. Consequently, from Venice, you have the opportunity to fish for Speckled Trout, Redfish, Flounder, Tarpon, Red Snapper, Grouper, Dolphin, Yellowfin Tuna, Blue Marlin and numerous other saltwater popular species.

Venice, Louisiana: Tunatown

The town of Venice is located on the west bank of the Mississippi River in the southeastern panhandle of Louisiana approximately 77 miles south of New Orleans and is the last town on the Mississippi River that is accessible by motor vehicle. Thus, due to its location, Venice boasts a large, well equipped, offshore fishing fleet with experienced charter boat captains that are intimately familiar with the local offshore waters as well as the preferred habits, locations, and bait preferences of the many saltwater fish species that inhabit the Gulf of Mexico.

Weather and Fishing in Venice

In addition to excellent fishing, Venice also provides fishermen with warm summers and mild winters with an average high of 62 degrees in January to an average high of 89 degrees in July and August. In addition, the months of April and May receive approximately 2 1/2″ of rainfall while June and July average 6 1/2″ to 7 1/2″ rainfall per year. So, not only is the weather mild all year long, but the fishing is also excellent throughout the entire year. However, it should be noted that some months are better suited for catching certain fish species than others and thus, it’s wise to consult an experienced, local, charter boat captain to plan your trip to coincide with the best time of year to fish for your chosen species. All charter’s on the HookM.com booking site are vetted for experience.

Fishing Tips

When fishing for offshore species in the Gulf, it is best to employ the services of an experienced charter boat captain because they not only know the local waters, they also know the habitat and bait preferences of the local fish species. In addition, licensed charter boat captains will have all of the necessary equipment needed to outfit you for your adventure in addition to one or more mates to assist you with rigging bait and landing fish.

However, if you choose to venture out on your own, then it’s wise to first consult with the owners or employees of one or more local bait shops to gain an understanding of where and how to fish for your chosen species.

Another important tip is to locate and fish around structures such as reefs, shipwrecks, and oil rigs. So, to find such locations, you should purchase a nautical chart of the area from a local bait shop and then use it to determine the coordinates of the locations that you want to fish. Then, you can use a GPS navigator to guide you to the correct location and an electronic fish finder to locate the fish that commonly inhabit these locations.

Yet another important tip when fishing Louisiana’s offshore waters is to use the freshest bait possible. Thus, it’s best to purchase your bait from a local bait shop the morning of your trip and to use a live well to keep baits such as pinfish and shrimp alive until needed.

In addition, another important tip when out on the water is to watch for flocks of birds either hovering above the water or diving into it because this inevitably indicates a bait ball of small fish that have been driven to the surface by larger predatory fish such as tuna and marlin. Thus, casting lures or live baits to the edges of these bait balls will often result in a strike.

Also, you should look for so-called “weed lines” which are composed of floating masses of Sargasso grass and June grass (as well as some detritus) because many small fish use weed lines for shelter. Thus, weed lines also attract larger predatory fish species such as dolphin and cobia who feed on the smaller baitfish. So, either trolling adjacent to or casting to the edges of weed lines will often draw strikes.

Last but not least, you should be aware that storms can form very quickly and move very rapidly in the Gulf and that lighting can strike boaters from many miles away. Thus, you should always check the local weather report before venturing out and keep a close lookout for storms when out on the water, and retreat to land if one appears to be traveling towards you.

Top Fish Species:

Red Snapper

Red Snapper are by far the most popular game fish in the offshore waters of Louisiana. Not only are they abundant in these waters, they are one of the most highly prized species for eating due to their flaky, white, flesh and their mild but excellent taste. Also, they are easily identified by their crimson coloration, wide bodies, and sloped heads and they are commonly found in large schools so that once you have located them, catching them can be a non-stop experience for as long as your stamina lasts. Furthermore, the most common length for mature adults of this species is around 24 inches but, they can grow as large as 40 inches.

When to fish for Red Snapper

Although Red Snapper can be caught year-round in the offshore waters of Louisiana, there is a closed season that varies from year to year depending on the density of the population. However, the best time for red snapper fishing is the mid-summer to early autumn months of July, August, and September.

Where to fish for Red Snapper

Red Snapper are a common fish species in the offshore waters of Louisiana and they like to inhabit waters from 50 to 300 feet where they tend to congregate around structures such as offshore reefs, large rock formations, shipwrecks, and oil drilling platforms. However, the larger specimens of this species are often found hovering over large expanses of flat, sandy bottom. In addition, it should be noted that the smaller specimens of this species tend to inhabit the upper layers of the water column whereas the larger specimens tend to inhabit the lower layers and, the larger specimens seldom mix with the smaller ones.

How to fish for Red Snapper

The best way to locate schools of Red Snapper is to use a nautical chart to locate appropriate bottom structures such as offshore reefs, rocky bottoms, ledges, drop-offs, shipwrecks, and oil drilling platforms. Then, once you are on location, you should employ fish finder electronics to locate the schools.

However, it should be noted that these fish are generally caught above the bottom instead of on it and they tend to prefer live bait such as croakers or white trout. So, once you have located a school of fish, you can either troll for them using live bait or dead drift while trailing a chum line.

Grouper

Grouper are another extremely popular game fish found in the offshore waters of Louisiana and they are also a highly prized species for eating because, like Red Snapper, they too have flaky, white, flesh and a mild taste which makes them excellent table fare. They are often one of the most expensive selections in many seafood restaurants. Also, there are several unique species of Grouper that inhabit the offshore waters of Louisiana and they commonly range from 10 to 20 pounds but, they can grow as large as 50 pounds. However, you should be aware that any grouper caught in the Gulf of Mexico must measure at least 20 inches to be of a legal length to keep.

When to fish for Grouper

Although Grouper can be caught year-round in the offshore waters of Louisiana there is a closed season that ranges from February 1st to March 31st. However, the best time for Grouper fishing is the month of April.

Where to fish for Grouper

Grouper are a common fish species in the offshore waters of Louisiana and they like to inhabit the same type of waters as Red Snapper. Consequently, they are most often found near bottom structures such as offshore reefs, large rock formations, shipwrecks, and oil drilling platforms.

How to fish for Grouper

The best way to locate schools of grouper is to use a nautical chart to located appropriate bottom structures such as offshore reefs, rocky bottoms, ledges, drop-offs, shipwrecks, and oil drilling platforms. Then, once you have located an appropriate structure, you can use a fish finder to locate the schools. Then, once you have located the fish, the best method for catching them is to fish near the bottom using heavy gear with a 50-pound test line and some heavy weights. However, like Red Snapper, these fish are also generally caught above the bottom instead of on it and they tend to prefer live bait such as Pinfish over most other baits. However, Grunts, Cigar Minnows, or Spanish Sardines will also work.

Dolphin

When people think of Dolphins, they commonly picture the Bottle-Nosed Dolphin which is a mammal instead of a fish. However, there is also a fish species called a Blunt Nosed Dolphin (aka Dorado or Mahi Mahi) that are characterized by their wide, sharply sloped, heads and their brightly colored blue, green, and yellow bodies that continuously taper from the back of their head to their tail. Also, these fish are sleek ambush predators who like to lay in wait for their prey and then use their startling speed to dart out from cover to seize their prey and, when hooked, they present a mighty battle to the offshore angler. In addition, because they are one of the fastest-growing fish in the world’s oceans, adults commonly range from 20 pounds to 50 pounds and can reach 5 feet in length.

When to fish for Dolphin

Although Dolphin can be caught year-round in the offshore waters of Louisiana, the best time of year to fish for Dolphin is the months of May through September.

Where to fish for Dolphin

Because Dolphins are pelagic ambush predators, they commonly inhabit waters ranging from 12 to 60 miles from shore and they can most often be found under or near floating objects such as buoys or mats of seaweed where they like to hide in the shadow created by these floating objects. However, they can also be found on the edges of tidal rips where they also like to lay in wait for prey struggling in the fast currents.

How to fish for Dolphin

The most common method of fishing for Dolphins is to first locate floating masses of seaweed or other floating objects such as buoys and then troll around them at a rate of 4 to 7 knots using either live or artificial baits suspended either just below the surface or skipping along on the surface. However, they can also be caught by dead drifting with a live Ballyhoo or by kite fishing with the same bait as well as casting either live bait or artificial lures to the edge of the weed mats.

Yellowfin Tuna

Yellowfin Tuna are one of the most highly prized game fish the Gulf of Mexico has to offer anglers. They are also one of the fastest-growing tuna species and it’s common for anglers to catch yellowfin tuna weighing as much as 80 lbs. in Louisiana’s offshore waters. But, they have been known to reach 200 pounds in the Gulf and they can grow as large as 400 pounds and reach a length of over 6 feet! In addition, these fish are exceptionally strong fighters and thus, anglers who plan on doing battle with one of these monsters need to be in good physical condition. But, anglers who are up to the challenge can expect explosive strikes, long runs, deep dives, and a titanic battle to land their catch.

When to fish for Yellowfin Tuna

Although the fishing for Yellowfin Tuna is excellent in the Gulf of Mexico all year long, the best time for catching world-class Yellowfins is during September, October, November, and December as they congregate to begin their annual migration to their spawning grounds in Central and South America.

Where to fish for Yellowfin Tuna

The offshore waters of Louisiana are well known for harboring large schools of Yellowfin Tuna and many hotspots can be found as little as 20 miles offshore. There, the water can reach depths of 1,000 feet or more which provides excellent shelter for these fish to retreat to where they use both the depth and the lack of light as shelter to rest safely between feedings. Then, when hunger compels them to seek out food, they can suddenly rise to the surface in pursuit of large schools of baitfish which they herd into “bait balls” and then attack with abandon in a frenzy of feeding.

How to fish for Yellowfin Tuna

Fishing for Yellowfin Tuna in the Gulf of Mexico generally involves one of two methods. The first, and most popular method, is to toll for them using multiple lines or “spreaders” to which brightly colored artificial lures consisting of plastic baits with skirts are used to simulate a school of excited or agitated baitfish. The multiple targets attract the tuna by gaining their attention through noise and flashy movement and then, it entices them to attack by triggering their chase instinct. The other, and less popular method, is to dead drift while suspending live bait or cut bait such as Mackerel, Menhaden, or Herring on multiple lines within a chum line.

Blue Marlin

In addition to world-class Yellowfin Tuna fishing, Louisiana’s offshore waters are well known for their excellent Blue Marlin fishing. This fish species is one of several pelagic billfish species found in the Gulf of Mexico which include Black Marlin, Swordfish, and Sailfish, and they are only found well offshore in deep, blue, water and, although rare, Blue Marlin can reach weights of 1,000 pounds or more. However, like tuna, Blue Marlin are extremely strong fighters, and thus, anglers who plan on pitting their endurance against one of these leviathans of the deep need also to be in good physical condition. But, anglers who have the patience to wait for a strike and the stamina to withstand their long runs and deep dives can expect spectacular airborne displays as the fish attempts to dislodge the hook to win its freedom.

When to fish for Blue Marlin

Although the fishing for Blue Marlin is legal in the Gulf of Mexico all year long, the best time for catching world-class Blue Marlin is during July, August, and September.

Where to fish for Blue Marlin

Because Blue Marlin are a pelagic species that inhabits deep water and feeds on deepwater baitfish, the best places to look for them are near floating masses of seaweed, oil drilling platforms, and other places that attract schools of baitfish. However, like Yellowfin Tuna, Blue Marlin can also be found in the open ocean where the water can reach depths of 1,000 feet or more. There, they too use both the depth and the lack of light as shelter to safely rest between feedings. Then, like tuna, when hunger compels them to seek out food, they can suddenly rise to the surface in pursuit of large schools of baitfish.

How to fish for Blue Marlin

Fishing for Blue Marlin in the offshore waters of Louisiana consists exclusively of trolling because these fish invariably feed on live, fast-moving, bait such as Flying Fish and Ballyhoo, and finding a bait ball of these fish is next to impossible. Therefore, like fishing for tuna, most anglers use multiple lines or spreaders to which they attach brightly colored artificial lures or live baits with artificial skirts to simulate a school of excited or agitated baitfish. This attracts the Marlin’s attention with noise and flashy movement and the fleeing bait triggers their chase instinct.

So, if you are considering an offshore fishing trip in the Gulf of Mexico, then the city of Venice is a wonderful place to stay as well as an excellent place to find both licensed charter boat captains and local bait shops. Plus, with its central location in the Gulf, anglers are well-positioned to access the many reefs, wrecks, and oil rigs located in the Gulf as well as the deep blue water preferred by pelagic fish species such as Tuna and Marlin. Consequently, with easy access and such a wide variety of fish species to fish for, it is no wonder that many anglers consider Venice to be an offshore fisherman’s paradise.

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