The morning started at about 50 miles an hour heading south down the Mississippi River out into the Gulf of Mexico.
To back up a little bit, let me share why we even went. Deb’s parents, Dan and Joan, moved to the northern side of Lake Ponchatrain a few months back. When they did, the day they were moving into their new place Dan ended up getting fairly sick and going to the hospital. Over those next couple of weeks Deb and I helped Joan unpack boxes, organize the house, hang pictures, and just get them settled in. When Dan got out, he really wanted to make sure that he did something to say thank you, which was absolutely not necessary but certainly well appreciated.
The idea he had was to go out on a deep-sea fishing adventure. He knows that Deb does enjoy fishing and so does Chassidy, so he booked this out into the future and planned for a mid June fishing trip.
The company he arranged this through what’s called the Mexican Gulf fishing company out of Venice Louisiana. This company runs six private charter boats that range from 35 feet to about 40 feet.
As the date for the fishing trip neared and the plans got more finalized, it was going to be Deb, myself, Chasity, Dan, and possibly Deb’s brother Daniel. Unfortunately Daniel was not able to make the trip due to work commitments, and Dan ended up not feeling well a few days before the trip and ultimately decided not to go out on the fishing trip with us.
With the trip being paid for already, and arranged without refunds, Dan suggested we go ahead and invite some other folks if they would like to join us. With that, Deb invited Keith and David, two of our neighbors in the marina where we keep our boat. We had a great time, and it was really cool having David and Keith go with us.
Venice Louisiana is about two hours and 25 minutes away from where we have the boat docked now. The afternoon before the date of the fishing trip Deb, Chasity and I drove down to Venice Louisiana and stayed in a little Fishcamp motel right near the marina. There is pretty much nothing in Venice Louisiana other then the marina and a lot of commercial fishing boats and deep sea fishing boats as well as supply businesses for deep-sea offshore oil rigs. (We saw several parking lots full of cars, with 4 or 5 helicopters sitting in the parking lot. I have to assume they fly people to and from the rigs off shore. (For those not familiar with this part of the Gulf of Mexico, it is rich with oil rigs, and to sail at night is very interesting because it looks like your driving across land with the number of lights on the rigs, they look like buildings coming out of the ocean in the middle of no where.
We met Captain Wade at the marina in Venice Louisiana at 5 AM. From there, we loaded up into the boat and started to head out to the fishing grounds. The boat we were on was a 36 foot deep V Center console fishing boat. I’ve never been on a boat that was this fast in the past. This boat had three 300 hp Yamaha outboard’s. As we headed down the Mississippi River as the sun was coming up it was really pretty, the sun was coming up and lighting up the sky with a nice red hue, birds were sort of flying out of the edges of the shallow waters of the Mississippi River, and the water was as smooth as glass.
As we rocketed down the river for about a 30 minute trip to the mouth of the river where it enters the Gulf of Mexico, we saw another boat coming up behind us. We were doing about 50 to 52 mph according to the GPS chart plotter on this particular boat we were on so I was surprised to see a boat getting ready to pass us. As he went by, it turned out to be one of the other fishing boats owned by the Mexican Gulf Fishing Company and as he flew by us I noticed on the transom of the boat there were four 300 hp outboard’s.
We got into the shallow flats just on the south side of the Mississippi River and they shut off the engine and started to catch some bait. They would slowly coast into an area where they could see small fish surfacing and jumping, likely being chased by prey down below.
As soon as they coasted up into that area, one of the crew members would throw a cast net and they would let it settle down a little bit and then pull it back up. In the end they caught about 150 baitfish that were approximately 3 to 5 inches long.
Once we had the bait on board it was time to get comfortable in the boat and head out to the deeper water. We couldn’t have picked a better day for this fishing trip. The sun stayed somewhat behind the clouds for the most of the day, the temperature was warm but not overly hot, and the seas were 1 to 2 feet.
We had a cruising speed of approximately 40 mph as we we’re running through the ocean swell to the fishing grounds. The boat handled it amazingly, as we would come out of the valley of the wave and up on the next swell you would expect for it to sort it launch off (not out of the water) but high enough that it would slam or slap as it came down into the next swell. That never happened, it was just a smooth ride back up the next swell.
Once we got out near one of the oil rigs that we were going to fish at, the crew baited up and setup the Out Riggers with two of the rods and we started trolling for yellowfin tuna. Within minutes we had the first strike and the rod was handed to me as I started to reel it in.
I quickly turned the rod over to Chasity, so she could have the first fish. She wasn’t quite able to hold the fishing rod given the amount of fight this particular fish, so they went ahead and asked me to take the rod back and to reel it in myself.
The fish came in for a little while, maybe 100 feet or so of line. I was able to get back on the reel and at that point the fish wanted no more part of coming toward the boat.
He turned and ran and the fishing reel continued to whirl as the drag and line went out. It would go out for three or four minutes at a consistently steady speed and then stop and I would pull back putting my back into it. I might get 3 to 5 cranks on the reel of him toward me and then it would take off again. At one point the captain asked to see the rod for a moment and when he handed it back he told me to hang on tight and keep the rod tip up as it was likely over 100 pound tuna on the other end.
I worked on that fish for about 20 to 30 minutes but unfortunately he ended up breaking the line where the monofilament was connected to the leader and I lost that fish.
The next fish that got hooked went to Chasity and she was determined to try and get this one on the boat even if she couldn’t hold the fishing rod on her own. Debbie and David both took turns holding the rod while Chasity cranked on the reel. That turns out to be a really hard thing to do because it means you’re not really holding the rod in a place where you can use your body to give yourself additional leverage. I am certain that both of their arms were very sore by the time they got that fish all the way in. So Chasity ended up landing the first of the tuna fish. I say it was Chasity, however there is no doubt that David had a prime play in making sure this fish came up. It was about a 35 pound yellowfin tuna and ended up being the first fish on board of this particular trip.
The next one that hooked up a fish was Keith. Keith cranked and cranked for quite some time and that was a good fight on the end of this rod as well. After about five or so minutes he said his shoulder was starting to really hurt him. As it turns out, Keith has some shoulder issues and the additional strain of holding up the rod as well as cranking it did a number on his shoulder if he had to work a fish for more than about 10 or 15 minutes. I took the rod back and fought that fish for a while and after about 20 minutes had him fairly close toward the surface and quite ready to give the rod back to Keith. I was shocked at just how tired my arms were after fighting the first fish and then this one shortly after.
I gave the rod back to Keith and he ended up reeling it in the rest of the way so that the captain and the crew were able to gaf the fish. When they pulled this fish in it ended up being a 65 pound yellowfin tuna and was awesome and fun to catch. There’s no doubt it’s the largest fish I’ve ever caught in my entire life and it was really really fun to catch.
After having over 100 pounds of yellowfin tuna on board we decided to go ahead and fish in a place where we could all fish and we can limit out on red snapper because they had been really hitting well the last few days.
We motored over to another set of oil rigs where we bottom fished for a while. This consisted of dropping a fairly heavy weight down to the ocean floor and then ensuring you continue to let enough line out as the boat dragged in the current so that the weight and bait didn’t leave that particular place on the ocean floor.
The water was about 200 to 240 feet deep in the areas we were fishing. It was kind of interesting because the red snapper don’t bite like a lot of freshwater fish and hit hard, but rather just sort of slowly absorb the fishing in their mouth and then start to swim away in which time you set the hook and then the fight is on.
We caught a total of 10 red snapper that we brought aboard. One of the largest of the red snapper ended up not being brought completely on board because a shark decided that it was a good dinner. As David was fighting the fish all of a sudden the line let loose and he thought that he lost the fish, as it turns out a hammerhead shark was following right behind it and decided to make a meal out of it instead. It was likely one of the larger Red Snapper we would have caught judging by the size of the head. That was the reason in the video you can hear the comment to Keith that he caught the largest “whole fish” of the day.
We fished for approximately 10 hours total that day and had an absolute blast before heading back up the Mississippi River and into the marina in Venice. Once at the marina, the crew cleaned and fileted all of the red snapper except for one that we suggested they leave whole so we could bake it that way.
They also cut tuna steaks out of all of the tuna and we ended up with well over 150lbs of cleaned fish to split 4 ways between all of us.
The next day we baked the whole red snapper and enjoyed the fruits of the fishing trip and that was followed with Tuna steaks a few nights in a row. I was determined to also try some fresh raw tuna from a fish that I caught and that was really good also. It felt like some kind of right of passage for a live aboard sailor. It was amazing how fresh and clean it tasted. I look forward to doing this more in the future, but want to have fresh tuna sushi from the stern of my own boat on an ocean crossing.
In in the video below you can see the fishing trip and if your looking for a fishing trip like this, I would absolutely recommend the Mexican Gulf Fishing Company because they were wonderful and had us on the fish all day.