Fishing offshore in blue water can be a real mixed bag at times. Finding fish migrations at the right time is the key for big game species like tuna and billfish, something experienced charter services make a living doing. Due to massive fish movement in such a huge area, it’s not often that one particular spot in the ocean earns a reputation as a world-class fishing hotspot.
However, there are exceptions. Just 50 miles southwest of Venice sits the famous Sackett Bank, a salt dome commonly called the Midnight Lump by the locals. Located just five miles north of the underwater mountainous range that is the Mississippi Canyon, Midnight Lump is as close to a perfect offshore fishing spot as you can get.
What’s so special about it?
Think of Midnight Lump as being a small underwater mountain, rising up from the bottom of the Gulf to roughly 200 feet from the surface at its peak. There are nearby holes – or valleys, to stick with the metaphor – ranging in 300 to 500 feet in depth that generate some tremendous current, something that disorients baitfish, and consequently draws in all kinds of advantageous predatory fish. Combine all that with its vicinity to an 850-foot drop at the Mississippi Canyon itself, and you’re looking at a whole bunch of structure fish just adore.
Perhaps the most popular species anglers target on Midnight Lump is yellowfin tuna. Seven of the top 10 largest yellowfins caught in Louisiana came from the Midnight Lump, including the state record fish of 240.14 pounds caught back in 2005. There may be no better place in the Gulf, or even the world, for dense concentration of trophy-sized yellowfin tuna.
Late December to March is the prime time for yellowfin tuna fishing in Louisiana. Most anglers find success anchoring their boats, chumming the waters and using live bait. Trolling and chumming works as well. Because of the Lump’s close proximity to shore, wintertime fishing here is quite popular. Even more so, as this Lump is technically in federal waters, anglers from nearby states make the trek here as well for the tuna. It’s not a rare sight to see upwards of 100 boats sitting out on the Lump.
More than just yellowfin
Not as abundant as tuna, but there are some shortfin mako sharks out there at Midnight Lump.
Even if it was just yellowfin tuna that moved in through this area, it would still be a popular spot, but there is much more to offer here.
Apart from yellowfin, wahoo, blackfin tuna, marlin, and several shark species also move through the area in high numbers. Like yellowfin, the January to March period seems to be the best time for these fish as well.
For anglers looking for something a little bigger than a yellowfin tuna, there’s mako sharks, blue marlin and bluefin tuna. Fish for them as you would wahoo or smaller tuna – chumming and trolling – but be sure to use some heavier line and equipment, just in case you catch something monstrous. In fact, the second-largest fish ever caught in the Gulf came near the Midnight Lump: a 1,152-pound bluefin tuna back in 2003. Such a fish is not very common, but just knowing that there are fish like that out there amps up the excitement on the open water. The best time for bluefin tuna is in late May, around Memorial Day.
For anglers without boats of their own, you’ll need to hire out a charter, guide or a kayak. The best launch spots are from Grand Isle or Venice. For more information on these destinations, continue reading.
Venice is a small community in Plaquemines Parish on the west bank of the Mississippi River, and sits as far south as you can travel down the mighty river by car in the country. It’s seen as being a major gateway to offshore fishing in the Gulf, with a variety of different species anglers can target, like sharks, tuna, dorado, wahoo, marlin, and more. The wahoo fishing is particularly terrific out of Venice.
Closer to shore, nearby oil platforms provide a great location for finding other game species. Red snapper, grouper, tarpon, cobia, and amberjacks love the cover that these platforms provide.
Inland marshes are home to such game fish as flounder, striped bass, flounder, and spotted seatrout. Arguably the most popular species, however, is redfish, a favorite not only for its abundance and fighting spirit, but for being great tablefare as well. You can catch redfish year round in the marshes around Venice, and can be caught a number of different ways, such as topwater baits in smaller ponds to deep water jigging in larger bayous.
Venice is one of the most popular destinations for charter fishing in not only Louisiana, but anywhere in the United States.
Grand Isle is a barrier island located at the point where Barataria Bay meets the Gulf of Mexico. The island caters to tourism, and there is a small population of locals who make a living from the seafood and oil industries. It is a hot spot for bird watchers, and hosts an annual migratory bird festival. The fishing around the island is excellent, and the island hosts many fishing tournaments, including an annual International Tarpon Rodeo.
The island’s location on the edge of the Gulf means that great offshore fishing opportunities are always nearby. There are many guides and charters available on the island that can take anglers out to fish around oil platforms. Common catches include tuna, dorado, snapper, grouper, mackerel, wahoo, amber jack and many more.