Fishing in Louisiana – “Sportsman’s Paradise”
Braided with thousands of acres of productive waterways, Louisiana is legendary fishing territory. The state’s bayous, rivers, lakes, reservoirs and estuaries are a paradise for freshwater fishermen. And for saltwater action, don’t miss a charter adventure in the Gulf of Mexico. The Louisiana coast—from the easternmost marina in Venice all the way to Lake Charles in the west—is your jumping-off point for some of the world’s best deep-sea fishing. Plus, each year, south Louisiana fishing grounds lure thousands of pros who participate in dozens of major fishing events. Between tournaments, vacationers can enjoy that same great fishing year-round. Cast a line and reel in some of the best catches you can find here in Louisiana.
Located on the Sabine River straddling the Texas line, the 185,000-acre Toledo Bend Reservoir boasts a 1,200-mile shoreline filled with endless opportunity to enjoy the great outdoors. The main attraction at the largest man-made body of water in the South is undoubtedly the fishing. The bass are biting and they’re larger than life. Based on trends seen in past years, now’s the time to find your own big catch in the waters of west-central Louisiana. When the water starts to warm up in late spring, only the biggest bass are left swimming and spawning starts. After a few weeks, the newly hatched fry begin to take over and the big fish move down to deeper water. The smaller bass travel in schools and feed on increasingly larger food as spring turns to summer. As summer progresses, there’ll be more fish in the water, but it’ll be harder to break your personal record for the biggest catch. Toledo Bend hosts fishing events all summer long. With $440,000 given out in prizes over the course of three days, the Big Bass Splash tournament, hosted by Sealy Outdoors, lets amateur anglers win like professionals. The action takes place in early spring and other events throughout the year. Plus, North and South Toledo Bend state parks offer fabulous fishing and boating, surrounded by forested camping, hiking, biking and recreation areas.
For many fishermen, Venice isn’t the best place for Louisiana fishing; it’s the only place – consistently recognized by saltwater fishing experts among the top deep-sea fishing hot spots in the world. The town has achieved such a mythical status as a destination for outdoorsmen, that you have to wonder—is it really that good? No question it is. Year after year, magazines like Field & Stream and Outdoor Life put Venice on their best-of lists, thanks to the fish that are caught year-round in the freshwater, saltwater and brackish channels just outside of town. You’ll find dozens of charter boat companies, like Voodoo Fishing Charters and Deep South Charters, through the Venice Marina.
Home to the oldest fishing tournament in the U.S., Grand Isle sits at the top of many anglers’ must-fish list. The International Grand Isle Tarpon Rodeo is three days of saltwater fishing fever, and is a testimony to how big the Gulf’s sea monsters can get—the current record for largest tarpon caught at the rodeo is 208 pounds! Other big game fish lurking beneath the surface include wahoo, blackfin tuna and the Cadillac of trophy fish—blue marlin. Head down to Grand Isle and catch one yourself with the help of Bridge Side Marina and the handy local charter companies. And because Grand Isle is a barrier island, fishermen in search of a shallow-water experience can paddle in nearby Caminada Bay. Bonus: Every April, Grand Isle hosts Ride the Bull, the world’s largest extreme kayak fishing tournament. Don’t miss this one!
Port Fourchon, similar to Venice and Grand Isle, has direct access to the open waters in the Gulf of Mexico. Fishing offshore from Port Fourchon will take you into the deep waters where many of the nation’s oil rigs sit. And there’s a whole art and science to fishing near these structures. Get ready to reel in marlin, tuna and wahoo, amberjack, cobia, grouper, and snapper. Head to the Port Fourchon Marina to get all the gear and have a bite to eat before you head out fishing. Outfitters such as Cajun Made Charters will ensure you have an incredible day of fishing.
Jean Lafitte, a village named after Louisiana’s most infamous pirate, has plenty of attractions that set the town apart. The inland saltwater fishing is phenomenal, with redfish and speckled trout making up much of fishermen’s catches. Also, its location makes the village an easy drive from New Orleans. Imagine spending the morning enjoying café au lait and beignets, and by noon, easing into a canoe and cruising past Spanish moss-draped cypress trees. The Lafitte Public Fishing Pier is a great spot for those looking to cast a line as quickly as possible. For visitors interested in charter fishing, Jean Lafitte Fishing Charters are the experts. And for those who are just looking for a casual day kayaking, Jean Lafitte National Historical Park and Preserve can be found on the north end of town.
To get an idea of why Cocodrie is so popular among fishermen, just look at a map. Cocodrie sits close to miles of marshland and beaches that spotted sea trout and red drum love. South of town sits a string of barrier islands that serve as havens for flounder and snapper coming in from the Gulf of Mexico. The local charter boat captains know this maze of waterways better than any GPS. Tradewinds Marina offers overnight accommodations, a bait shop, charter services and a restaurant and bar for relaxing after a day on the water.
In Cameron, the long sandy stretches of Louisiana’s southwest coast are perfect for surf fishing. No need for a boat—just show up, cast a line, and see what you can snag. Make sure you’re up for the challenge, though—bull redfish caught on shore frequently weigh more than 30 pounds. One of the more popular spots among anglers is the Cameron Jetties Pier. Others include Holly, Cameron and Constance beaches. Crabbing is another big draw to the Cameron area, especially during the summer months. Head inland a couple of miles and you’ll find calmer waters in Lake Calcasieu. Explore the Creole Nature Trail, a 180-mile-long series of roads that connect visitors with hiking and wildlife viewing destinations. Here you’ll also find inland saltwater fishing opportunities galore. Hook up with Bayou Charter Service to set up your southwest Louisiana fishing trip of a lifetime.
Plaquemines Parish tracks the final miles of the mighty Mississippi River into the Gulf. The parish is home to some 80 fresh and saltwater lakes surrounded by hundreds of miles of coastline. Looking to hook a prized Bull Red? Try your luck from towns such as Empire, Buras or Pointe a la Hache (the end point of the Great River Road National Scenic Byway).
If you’d rather not travel to the Gulf to cast a line, don’t miss such south Louisiana playgrounds as Bayou Segnette, Chicot, Lake Fausse Pointe and Palmetto Island state parks. These and other areas also offer excellent non-fishing recreation, along with overnight options ranging from tent camping to well-furnished cabins. Farther north, discover the allure of the Red and the Ouachita rivers, which cut through the green hills near Shreveport and Monroe and are revered for their big bass and catfish. Water sports of all kinds are popular in recreation areas from Lake Claiborne and Lake D’Arbonne to Chemin-a-Haut and Lake Bruin state parks. Pick your spot just about anywhere in the state, and soon you’ll understand why locals say that the fish are always biting in Louisiana.