The southern Louisiana coast offers not only the world’s best gumbo, but the third southern-most point in the United States in Venice, La., offers the some of the world’s best fishing for giant bull redfish. The fall fishing is so good it’ll make you want to slap your Momma.

“There are other places you can catch big bull reds, but no other place where you can catch them out of such shallow water,” said Texas Fish & Game editor and host of God’s Outdoors Chester Moore. “It’s an aberration. A 30-pound bull red in 3-feet of water is an experience you have to come here for.”

Guide David Iverson agrees. The longtime angler has fished all over the world, won largemouth bass tournaments and experienced almost everything that fishing has to offer, and picked Venice and its fishing as what he wants to do the rest of his life.

“I’ve done a lot of fishing,” he said, “but catching big bull reds still blows my skirt up. I get excited every single day.”

As a plus, fall brings some of the best fishing of the year to his area where the Mississippi River flows into the Gulf of Mexico. The area offers anglers the opportunity to fish the weedy marsh or in the river itself, where the focus can be flats, jetties or irregular areas that provide current breaks. While there will be fish in both types of habitat year-round, the best marsh fishing generally occurs in late fall and winter.

“Fall is the spawn for redfish,” Iverson said. “At no other time of year will you find bigger schools of fish, and they school according to size, so when you catch one 30 or 40 pounder, chances are that there are more that size there.”

The Place is Poppin’

Iverson’s go-to technique for fishing the river flats and jetties is the popping cork, and like every good guide he’s experimented and tinkered until he believes he’s got the exact rig fish want. His rig consists of a ¼- or ½-ounce jighead rigged with a 5-inch Bomber Mud Minnow suspended only about 10 inches under the cork, which is a shorter distance than many guides and anglers use. The fish are attracted to the popping and splashing of the cork, he says, and he wants the jig where the fish see it immediately when they investigate the disturbance.

He prefers the ½-ounce jighead because the weight sits the cork upright quicker than the lighter version, and only uses the ¼-ounce head when conditions are calm or the fishing is tough. The smaller jighead allows the bait to swim more slowly, which can be a key when the fishing is slow.

“I add a ¼-ounce split shot to the bottom of the cork when I use the smaller jighead,” he said, “so I can still cast without tangling and the cork stands up quicker every time I twitch the rod.”

Iverson has also perfected the act of popping the cork. He uses the Paradise Popper Xtreme, which features multiple beads to create the clicking sound of shrimp and other crustaceans and a stainless steel wire that takes the abuse of a bull red, and holds the rod at about waist level pointed at the cork, then twitches to the side (across his body) while pulling his hands toward his body, adding more force and creating a more effective fish-calling pop. His rhythm and pace depends on the fish’s mood.

Super-Shallow Reds

Other productive tactics for bull reds on the flats and jetties depends on whether fish are feeding super-shallow or in the mid-depths of 10- to 15-feet, or if they’re actively chasing baitfish on the surface. When the fish are right up against the jetty rocks, Iverson and fellow Venice guide Carl Smith throw a subsurface walking bait like a Badonk-A-Donk SS, a spinnerbait or a plain jighead with a curltail.

“The Badonk-A-Donk SS sinks very slowly,” said Smith, “so you can throw it right up on the rocks and not get it hung up. If the fish want a slow presentation up shallow, about the only ways you can get that is with this bait or a popping cork.”

If fish are a little deeper, Iverson throws a big 1- to 1 ½-ounce lipless bait like the Super Pogy, allowing it to sink to the bottom and retrieving it with quick lifts and drops. The drops should be on a semi-taut line to feel the strikes.

If redfish are actively smashing baitfish on the surface, it’s time for Iverson to tie on a big topwater. He throws Super Spook, a cigar-shaped walking bait that measures 5-inches in length, and works it through the melee. Anglers never know when the fish will surface, so most keep the big topwater handy.

See Dat? Who Dat?

Depending on weather patterns, as it cools into winter it’s often the marshes that hold the most fish, and they can be very shallow – so shallow that many anglers “sight-fish” for them. Alabama redfish tournament pro Barnie White specializes in it and uses a collapsible tower on his boat to gain a better view. It’s a tactic he uses a lot when fishing Venice marshes.

“If the water’s clear enough you can see the fish,” White said. “Other times you’ll see the tail come out of the water or the swirl where a fish moved. Use a lure you can keep shallow and doesn’t get hung in the weeds – a spinnerbait or Who Dat weedless spoon. If the water’s murky the spinnerbait puts out more vibration and flash and seems to work best, but anytime it’s clear enough the spoon catches just as many.”

If the marsh water is very clear, a more subtle presentation of plain jighead and plastic gets the nod from both pros. They also agree on color selection, with the classic black-and-chartreuse getting the nod most of the time, with baitfish hues a great alternative. White also likes a purple body with a white tail.

Regardless of whether you’re fishing the marsh or the mouth of the mighty Mississippi, when you’re fishing in Venice you stand the chance of catching not only the biggest red of your life, but other gamefish as well. In recent years, sharks of various makes and models have become more prevalent, and there’s also flounder, Spanish mackerel, jack crevalle and other fish. About mid-fall, the speckled trout show up in the area, and the chances of doing battle with a trophy is a real possibility.

But those other fish are just supporting actors. The big, shallow-water bull reds are the stars of the show. For more information or to book a trip, contact:

David Iverson, 225-774-0986
Carl Smith, 225-937-0873