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Marlin University 2016: Venice, Louisiana

Marlin U's most recent stop really is the "House of Blues"

September 22, 2016
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docks at Venice, Louisiana
Venice, Louisiana hosted Marlin University’s most recent trip. Staff
blue marlin jump in water
A blue marlin greyhounds as a lucky angler hopes for the best during that long initial run. Staff

Over 15 years ago, I wrote an article in Marlin called “America the Bountiful” that highlighted all the best places in the continental U.S. where you could go and have a good shot at catching a marlin. This was before everyone had great big boats that could stay offshore for days at a time, with plenty of fuel to make long runs and still troll for days on end. However, the people I spoke to at that time who put forth the extra effort to make the long, 80-plus-mile runs out of the rigs caught a lot of blue marlin. I ended up calling the bluewater fishery off Louisiana the “most underrated blue marlin bite in the world.” Since then, the availability of bigger, faster sport-fishing boats pretty much proved that point without a shadow of a doubt.

livewell and jigging bait on boat
The local skippers prefer live bait for tuna, so the day begins with the bait jigs. Staff
blue marlin in water
The boats fished as far as 80 miles offshore, well into blue marlin territory. This one’s almost ready for release back into the Gulf of Mexico. Staf

When we made the decision this past spring to put on a Marlin U in Venice, Louisiana, as a replacement trip for an Australia session that wasn’t attracting enough students, I expected that our students would catch a ton of yellowfin tuna and wahoo, and they would be excited about the prospect of carrying home some meat. We never fish for game fish at most Marlin U sessions, so we figured the change of pace — and the stateside location — might attract some new students. I threw in a mini tournament to sweeten the pot. Luckily, the combination proved to be a good one, and it wasn’t long before we had 14 students signed up to attend.

jigging bait around oil rigs
The preferred tuna baits were large threadfin pilchards, which were found around the many oil and natural gas rigs in the region. Staff
fishing for marlin
A Marlin U student comes tight to a blue marlin as his fellow fishermen cheer on. Staff

Our fishing hosts for the event came from the Mexican Gulf Fishing Company; with their fleet of swift Freeman catamarans, we were able to fish as far as 80-plus miles from the marina and still get back in time for dinner each day. Our captains and crew — Kevin Beach, Billy Wells, Jordan Ellis, Zach Lewis, Colin Byrd, Wade Wells, Parker Rodrigue and Richard Draper — couldn’t have been more professional and accommodating than any crew on a mega sport-fisher. Their efforts really made our trip special.

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Freeman 40 on water
The Marin U team included 14 students, fishing from a fleet of swift Freeman catamarans Staff
Freeman 40 on water
One of the Freeman boats, Shockwave, catches bait for a day’s fishing off Venice, Louisiana. Staff

The big surprise, at least for me, was the phenomenal blue marlin bite our students experienced! Our four boats went seven for 12 over the four-day trip, and our boat was luckier than most, going four for five on blues and zero for one on whites. We also jumped off a true beast that probably went 600 pounds when she chewed through the snell on the circle hook.

blue marlin up to boat
One boat went four for five on blues like this one, and missed a chance at a white marlin. Staff
blue marlin in water
The crew managed to get this blue to the boat for a release, but another, estimated to weigh around 600 pounds, chafed through the leader during the fight. Staff

Although our captains said the yellowfin fishing was a bit off, our students still managed to limit out on a few days, and I think we caught somewhere over 50 nice tuna ranging from 40 to 137 pounds. I had four coolers and a 36-gallon trash can full of yellowfin when I pulled out of Venice for the 10-hour drive back to Orlando, most of it vacuum-packed by the fellows at MGFC. On the downside, we never caught a single wahoo!

Marlin U yellowfin tuna
The trip included a good yellowfin tuna count. Overall, the Marlin U group caught around 50 nice tuna ranging from 40 to 137 pounds. Staff
yellowfin tuna catch
Catching blue marlin was the big story, but the yellowfin tuna bite was strong, too. Some students hit the daily limit for the species. Staff

The tournament prizes went to several of our long-time students. Eric Seidelman took home the top tuna prize money and half the wahoo money with a 137-pound yellowfin. Alberto Sedna took home the blue marlin money and half the wahoo money by catching two blue marlin, and “Beto” Canto took home the grand prize and trip to Marlin University in 2017 by weighing in two tuna weighing 224 pounds, a 117 and a 107.

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