Louisiana Gold: Yellowfin Tuna and Redfish

An overflowing Mississippi River couldn't stop Marsh Madness participants from experiencing inshore and offshore success.

October 26, 2014

Louisiana’s Famous Redfish

The first days of October brought together anglers from the fishing industry and other walks of life at the annual Marsh Madness, an invitational event in Venice, Louisiana. Fall’s first legitimate cool front played havoc on local waters, but that couldn’t stop anglers such as Capt. Mike Frenette from targeting Louisiana’s abundant redfish. (Photo Credit: Sam Hudson) Sam Hudson

Mullet Hidey-Hole

Though it’s hard to discern here, a fresh north wind was blowing at a steady 20 to 25 knots, making small, protected, shallow pockets like this among the few fishable spots that Capt. Travis Paige nosed his 24-foot Blazer Bay.We found lots of mullet and a few redfish, but the latter weren’t in a rush to strike, perhaps feeling a bit of the cold front’s chill. Doug Olander

First Fish of the Day

Between the open Gulf of Mexico and maze of inshore marsh, Brian Evans, Capt. Mike Frenette and Sam Hudson slow-drifted and cast artificial plastics near menhaden schools, searching out large, bronze redfish. Evans, of Seaguar, cast out a popping-cork-and-jig combo in three feet of bay water to hook and land the first red drum of the day. (Photo Credit: Sam Hudson) Sam Hudson

Murky Waters

Storms brought tons of fresh water down the Mississippi River, diluting and clouding Venice waters that often allow sight-fishing opportunities. Instead, we blind-cast popping corks to attract the redfish. Pictured, Frenette lands another healthy redfish. (Photo Credit: Sam Hudson) Sam Hudson

Too Long for the Net

Capt. Mike Frenette lands the biggest red drum of the day, a fish that had trouble staying in the net. After a quick de-hooking and picture, he released the drum back into the bay. The captain later hooked a hefty fish — presumably another redfish — in the same area that spooled his 15-pound braid. (Photo Credit: Sam Hudson) Sam Hudson

No Break from the Wind

Windy conditions forced anglers into marshy waters; one popular spot close to Venice is known as the Wagon Wheel. Buddy boats, mostly made up of a group of bass fishermen from Mississippi, guided media members and company sponsors along the endless shorelines. (Photo Credit: Sam Hudson) Sam Hudson

Off to a Good Start

Skeeter Boats Ben Jarrett kicks off the first morning of the madness with a respectable red. Apparently Jarrett’s strategy of using a bright, noisy Z-Man Chatterbait paid off in the muddy water. A GoPro offered the striking perspective. Doug Olander

A Red for the Smilin’

Ben Jarrett pauses with his new-found buddy for a quick pre-release shot. Doug Olander

Chatterbait Strikes Again

Another red that couldn’t resist the sound and fury of a Z-Man Chatterbait worked slowly on light braided line. Ben Jarrett

Reds are Softies for Soft Plastics

To target redfish, we used heavy jigheads and soft plastics, up to half an ounce in weight, tied underneath a cork. The baits pictured were from Strike King. For more stealthy presentations in the marsh ponds and creeks, we favored baits from Zman. (Photo Credit: Sam Hudson) Sam Hudson

Slimy Surprise

Yeah, gafftopsail catfish (sail cats) leave a coat of nasty slime on your leader, but the damn things strike lures and fight like crazy. Even experienced anglers like Ben Jarrett can be fooled by a good sail cat’s speedy and tencacious runs into thinking they’ve hooked a redfish. Doug Olander

Venice – The Panorama View

The ultra-wide point of view of a GoPro takes in a good chunk of the “skyline” of Venice on a grey, weather-transition day. Doug Olander

Commercial Netters

One unsettling scene was the high number of commercial menhaden boats targeting the vital baitfish so close to Louisiana’s estuary waters. A small net boat (pictured, foreground) scouted for a place to deploy its seine net, just yards from where we were fishing. In the background, notice the main processing boat that handles the large hauls of menhaden, Not pictured, a second net boat, plus two spotter planes, were part of the operation. I can only imagine how the menhaden take and dead bycatch affects Louisiana marshes. (Photo Credit: Sam Hudson) Sam Hudson

Can You Spot It?

That night, back at Venice Marina, Brian Evans pointed out a strange object in the marsh. Can you spot and identify it? Apparently, the car found a new resting home after Hurricane Katrina. (Photo Credit: Sam Hudson) Sam Hudson

Tail of the Tuna

With the cold front bearing down on the Bayou State, Capt. Travis Mayeux, of the Mexican Gulf Fishing Company, took a chance to head offshore for yellowfin tuna. Dodging two big storms early on, the crew caught blue runner baits quickly and journeyed 45 miles out of Northeast Pass. Waters and wind calmed down enough to excite the tuna bite. Pictured, Mayeux gaffs a yellowfin caught by Mustad’s Steve Tagami. (Photo Credit: Sam Hudson) Sam Hudson

Flip It into Low Gear

Sport Fishing’s Sam Hudson locks down on a 50-pound fish circling below the boat. The actual fight started on top, much closer to the oil rig in the background. Most fish averaged 45 to 60 pounds, with the largest tuna of the day weighing 85 pounds. Steve Tagami

Take Your Turn

Capt. Travis Mayeux hauls in Sam Hudson’s yellowfin with a single lift. Throughout the day, doubles and even triple hookups had the cockpit in a frenzy. Daniel Nussbaum, of Zman, Steve Tagami, of Mustad, and August Debyser, of the Wounded Warriors Project, took turns on the rod to battle tunas. Next man up! Steve Tagami

Reach Out and Touch

Capt. Travis Mayeux uses every last inch of his gaff to reach out and snag Daniel Nussbaum’s yellowfin tuna. This particular tuna made a series of runs, tiring out Nussbaum in the process. For this tuna to have reached the bottom, it would have had to swim 4,300 feet straight down. Nussbaum’s yellowfin was one of eight fish kept between the four anglers. (Photo Credit: Sam Hudson) Sam Hudson

Prize and Glory

Yellowfin tuna fight so hard that your back, arms, legs and even wrists will likely hurt after a day’s fishing. The satisfaction on Daniel Nussbaum’s face is obvious. (He was actually recovering from surgery during the trip, but we won’t tell his doctor.) All the yellowfin tuna caught averaged about the same length, so 45-pounders and 85-pounders differed by how much meat was packed around their circumference. (Photo Credit: Sam Hudson) Sam Hudson

Boiled Shrimp: Pop ‘Em ‘Till You Drop

Part of dinner on the second night of Marsh Madness included only a bit less than a metric ton of shrimp. To die for! Doug Olander

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