Updated: May 22
It comes around once a year, and it is a mixture of fishing, food and friendships that all collide in Venice Louisiana for one of the greatest fishing trips ever. It's called Marsh Madness.
Eric and Artie Cosby of Top Brass Tackle started this event 20 years ago as a way to get fishing product manufacturers and outdoor writers together to test out new product in one of the best fishing places on earth…Venice Louisiana. It has tuned into the best of the best of these type of events as far as I’m concerned. As a rep for Top Brass Tackle I have been lucky enough to have been invited to this amazing event on several occasions and the day my invitation arrived for the 20th anniversary was a very happy day around the Matthews' house! I was like a little kid getting an invitation to the circus. I quickly RSVPd and started counting down the days. It’s amazing that a grown man can still get this excited about a fishing trip, but man-o-man it was like waiting for Christmas..I thought it would never come.
Late September finally arrived and I boarded the plane in Portland, Oregon for the trek to New Orleans Louisiana. While on the plane I thought about the awesome adventures that Marsh Madness has given me over the years. So many great memories, almost too many to recall. But through them all three things stood out above all others; the fishing, the food and the friendships.
Venice, Louisiana is nothing short of amazing for fishing opportunities. From Redfish to Tuna there is always something to target. This is the reason we congregate here - big strong fish and lots of them! This year at Marsh Madness I spent all three days fishing for Redfish and it was incredible. The boat rides alone were awesome!
On day one I fished with Tony Taylor of Louisiana Sportsman Magazine. We rode in the lap of luxury in his 28 foot aluminum "yacht" across tidal saltwater mud flats. We had five people in the boat and never felt crowded. We caught redfish on popping corks, Z-Man DieZel Chatter Baits and Gold Rat-L-Traps.
On day two I rode with Pro bass Fisherman Brian Latimer. We rode in his Bass Boat going 60 mph through skinny canals cut through the Marsh. I was very thankful for my new Wiley X Omega Kryptek sunglasses - not only are they an amazing pair of glasses, but they offer outstanding protection from bugs when going 60mph in a bass boat! We were flipping and pitching Z-Man Chatter Baits and Top Brass Jig Heads along the walls of grass and caught our limits of redfish by noon.
On day three I rode in a Bay boat with Tracy Echols across his beloved Tiger Pass to get to the fishing grounds where I watched world renowned outdoor writer Keith Jackson put on a clinic catching bull reds on Rat-L-Traps. The three of us had an incredible day of fishing, even if we did have to remove a hook from Keith (twice).
Every day upon our return to the Lighthouse Lodge ( Marsh Madness HQ and a place I highly recommend to stay if you go to Venice) I was delighted to hear all the other awesome fish tales of the day. I think most everyone caught some type of fish every day. The various types of fish included Redfish, Blackfin Tuna, Yellowfin Tuna,Catfish, Sheep head, Jacks and sharks. One of my friends even got bit by a shark on this trip (but that is a different story)
This is my sixth trip to Venice, and the fishing never fails. This is a place that needs to be on every Anglers bucket list
The food is top shelf, from a canoe full of fresh Louisiana shrimp to a full on BBQ Pig, these guys know how to eat. A couple of cold brewskis and some good cajun cooking go a long way to rejuvenating you after a long day of fishing!
The Friendships. By far the greatest part of Marsh Madness is seeing old friends and making new ones. Many of them I see often, but others I only see once every few years at this event, and I always come away with some new friendships that I know will last a lifetime. Simply put, these are some of the finest people in the fishing industry and I am proud to be a part of it.
One last note, be sure to visit a website called Vanishing Paradise. The Vanishing Paradise program was launched in 2009 by Ducks Unlimited and National Wildlife Federation to advocate for restoration of the Mississippi River Delta by nationalizing the issue, raising awareness, and educating members of Congress. This organization is doing great work to preserve this special place for generations to come.
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