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John Burrell Reports on Sport Fishing from Louisiana’s Southernmost Point
Posted on September 25, 2014

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From Argentina to Africa, Eddie Bauer Sport Shop guide John Burrell has fished, hunted, and guided in some spectacular locations as the owner/operator of his High Adventure Company. So he has a high bar when lodge operators sell him on the epicness of their location. But the Port Eads Marina at the mouth of the mighty Mississippi fits the definition so much that Burrell signed his company on to operate the prime marlin and tuna sport-fishing destination on the Gulf of Mexico. It’s a deep story of post-Katrina recovery and a FEMA-funded rebuild of a state-of-the-art marina in the southernmost parish in Louisiana. This is JB’s report on an environment he describes as “some of the most fertile waters on the planet.”—LYA Editor

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Words and Images by John Burrell

“It’s a brand-new facility, built on the south channel of the Mississippi River, right on the edge of the marsh, in sight of the Gulf of Mexico. A full marina, just five miles from the deep-water shelf! Aside from the trout and redfish, this is the best marlin and tuna fishing in America.”

I’m used to sales pitches, but this was a phone call that got my undivided attention. In the course of running a large international outfitting business, I get a lot of calls from property owners and lodges who, shall we say, often “oversell” what they have to offer. I had a sneaking suspicion that this was not the case when I received the call from Jacque Kuchta, the president of the Port Eads Fishing Refuge board, and boy, was I right.

After a site visit and some of the obligatory haggling, a deal was struck for the High Adventure Company to operate the historic Port Eads Marina and its fishing camps. There are few places in the world that deserve the word “epic,” and Port Eads would have to be one of them. Port Eads became famous in 1876 when James Buchanan Eads developed a wooden jetty system that effectively opened up the Mississippi River for year-round commercial trade. Today it’s famous as the fishing capital of the Gulf of Mexico.

Sitting at the mouth of the mighty Mississippi, 24 miles beyond the southernmost roads in Louisiana, the waters off Port Eads have been described as the most fertile on the planet. The combination of these nutrient-rich waters, in close proximity to the continental shelf, sets the stage for one of the world’s most incredible fisheries. During the hot summer months, the giant pelagic species like blue marlin, white marlin, yellowfin tuna, and bluefin tuna come to the northern Gulf in large numbers. These species are drawn to the area by the prolific bait-fish populations found along the “rips” or weed lines, and the structure provided by the many oil rigs that call that part of the Gulf home. Rips are formed when the Mississippi current meets the Gulf Loop Current, creating grass lines that can stretch for tens of miles. These are the perfect places to observe the food chain in its rawest form.

It’s not just the billfish and giant tuna that draw anglers from around the world to the northern Gulf. Each year, thousands of anglers come to the region in search of the fine table fare provided by red snapper, amberjack, and other species. These species flourish in this part of the Gulf due to the perfect habitat created by the many offshore oil rigs, wrecks, reefs, ledges, and gas platforms. As summer temperatures start to cool, huge schools of tarpon arrive at the mouth of the Mississippi. Unlike some of the traditional tarpon haunts in places like Boca Grande, this fishery remains largely unknown and underutilized to everyone but the hardcore locals.

What is well-known in fishing circles around the world are the incredible redfish and speckled trout that inhabit the marshes of southern Louisiana. These marshes have become known as the redfish capital of the world, and they’ve earned the title for good reason. Each fall, as the river starts to clear up and the Gulf waters push north, huge bull reds move into the mouth of the Mississippi and surrounding marshes. Feeding in the nutrient-rich waters, these bull reds can grow to become giants, with anglers regularly catching fish up to 40 lbs. Favorite techniques for catching these redfish include casting flies, tailing fish, or using a popping cork and live bait.

There are few places in the world where you can enjoy the food, music, hospitality, and culture that New Orleans and southern Louisiana are known for, while experiencing the best offshore, inshore, and freshwater fishing found anywhere. This is a one-of-a-kind fishery, and I’m lucky I listened to the sales pitch.

 

Sunset over South Pass with the oil rigs in the distance.

To find out more about the Eddie Bauer Sport Shop line of fishing and wingshooting apparel guide-built by John Burrell visit our Sport Shop page.

Author: - Thursday, September 25th, 2014
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  1. Dutch Prager

    Good morning John–Excellent commentary on Port Eads. Yes, I for one, am certainly pleased that you saw fit to Settle in at Port Eads. Our Group worked many years, long and hard, rebuilding, with the Help of the Parish, after many Huricanes. But, it all paid off and I, along with many Late Members, enjoyed years of fishing out of Rivers End Lodge, then Plaquemine Parish leased Lodge. If you wish many articles on Early South Pass-Port Eads, send me your mailing address. Yes, it is (was) a life I will never forget. It was my Pleasure meeting you at the Opening. I doubt if I will fish there, but my Heart and Best Wishes will always be with you. May you have a Very Successsful Opertion. Best regards Dutch Prager < tag em !


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