Idled for months by the Deepwater Horizon disaster, charterboat captains and anglers in the Gulf of Mexico have finally been given the green light by NOAA to once again fish offshore and Outdoor Life was on the scene on Saturday and Sunday for one of the first offshore trips. The game plan was to fish for swords on Saturday evening with good friend captain Devlin Roussel of Reel Peace charters, but after spinning out a prop on the way to the swordfish grounds, we were forced to fish some of the close-in rigs for snapper and amberjack. And it didn't take long for the fish to eat. The first fish in the boat was a nice amberjack expertly reeled in by Jessica Cremer (left).
Frenzied fishing action in Venice, Louisiana continued both inshore and offshore with the fishing crew of Marsh Madness. This annual pilgrammage conceived, arranged and executed by Eric and Artie Cosby of Top Brass Tackle seemed very much in doubt this year due to the Deepwater Horizon disaster. However, manufacturers including Plano, UnderArmour, Skeeter Boats, WileyX, Mustad, Realtree, Seaguar, The National Wildlife Federation and Live Wire Electric were all eager to support the event once the all-clear was sounded on fishing in an effort to bring a little bit of good news to the region. And the news is very good indeed. The fishing has been nothing short of outstanding. Click here to see Day 1 in the Gulf
When last Outdoor Life reported from the Gulf, the news was indeed sad. With the Horizon still leaking oil into the Gulf, we saw oil in the marshes and tar balls washing up on beaches. While it’s certainly too early to know the long-term effects of the spill and the widespread use of dispersants, we did not see any visible evidence of oil. That is not to say that there is none. Oil in some areas of Plaquemines Parish is still washing up on shore and the clean-up efforts continue. But life in the marsh seemed vibrant.
Including an ever-present number of gators…
and the occasional coyote…
or two.
But, of course, we were here for the fishing in a land where redfish are king. There was no shortage of reds back in the marsh.
Fall is big bull redfish time. Eric Cosby and James Hall headed out to Southwest Pass–where the Mississippi meets the Gulf–and had an epic day.
Jig heads and soft-plastics seemed to hammer the fish best.
James Hall, who is the editor of Bassmaster Magazine, has been around the fishing block a time or two and took his best-ever red out of Southwest Pass.
A stud redfish for sure.
Cosby didn’t really even have to struggle to keep pace.
With a few Spanish mackerel thrown in for good measure.
Once word spread amongst our group of a hot cobia bite just a bit offshore, we decided to try and get in on the action. I joined Hall, buddy Eddie Permenter and Sport Fishing editor Chris Woodward for a day near the close-in rigs. Woodward was the hot hand and put two 45-pounders in the boat. Hall didn’t do too badly either.
Even I got lucky on the cobia. It was fascinating fishing with fish seemingly cruising near the legs of the oil rigs in 40 feet of water. We cast heavy jigs to the legs, let them hit bottom and jigged to the surface. When a fish hit, the battle was on and often other cobia would tag along seemingly excited by the tussle. Pitch them a jig and they’d inhale one, too.
A fine day’s work–and several good meals.
There was no “give-up” for the tuna-chasers who remained on the lookout for shrimpers.
Tuna, both yellowfin and blackfin, eagerly chow down on shrimp boat bycatch.
There are few prettier–nor more welcome–sights in fishing than finally seeing “color” after an hour-long battle with a big tuna.
The gap to the gaff gets closer.
The critical last move can spell the difference between victory and an agonizing defeat.