I was extremely excited to be invited to attend Marsh Madness 2017 October 1-3 as a guest of Skeeter Performance Boats.
Marsh Madness is three days of fun, food and information. This event features fishing industry representatives with their latest products, outdoor writers, pro anglers and some of the best cooks anywhere. I actually ‘over ate’ the first day and my roommate, Kevin Polston, (Skeeter’s Area Sales Manager) went out on a rainy night to fetch a bottle of Pepto. After a sleepless night and a half bottle of Pepto I started to feel like a human again the next day and ready to fish on day three.
My invitation to March Madness was through JoAnne OBryant and Kevin Polston. OBryant is Skeeter’s Manager of SR Marketing Projects and Polston is an area sales manager. I have been associated with Skeeter for almost 20 years as spokesperson, outdoor writer and guide on Toledo Bend and Sam Rayburn. The event was held in Venice, Louisiana which is located about an hour south of New Orleans. Unless you have been to Venice one would think that there is no way you can drive an hour south of New Orleans without a ferry. Venice is on the bucket list of numerous anglers. This was my first trip to Marsh Madness but I came away extremely impressed at how well it was organized and the comradery of 80 people with so much in common. It was great to see old friends plus make new ones.
It was good to see a good friend I hadn’t seen in awhile, Andy Crawford, and we were able to swap fishing and life stories. Andy is former editor of the Louisiana Sportsman which is one of the most successful outdoor magazines in the nation. With Venice’s location hurricanes have taken their toll but this area just keeps coming back. One reason is the resiliency of its people and another is the incredible fishing. The Venice Marina seems to be thriving and The Lighthouse Hotel and Villas where we stayed had a 4.2 star rating with many ammenities including an excellent breakfast.
One of the main reasons everyone attended was the excellent fishing so the attendees were paired with area guides. South Louisiana has some of the most ‘fish filled’ marshes anywhere and basically every angler I know is familiar with Venice, LA. Mother Nature does what Mother Nature pleases so all three days we were there we had to deal with winds 20-30 mph which prohibited any offshores fishing so we had to stay inland in the marshes. Fortunately, we had a super guide, Skeeter Pro, Captain Cade Thomas, who had guided the area for several years and knew numerous areas where we could get out of ‘part’ of the wind: At least enough that allowed us to fish. It was a little early for the big speckled trout to move in so we caught reds, flounder and bass as the water is brackish.
I had the privilege of fishing with Kevin Polston the first day and JoAnne O’Bryant the last. Everyone is so busy with our competitive vocations that one of the highlights of the trip was to spend a day in the boat with each of these gifted, hard-working people. Yep, they also can catch fish. Our pattern was using spinning tackle, braided line with fluorocarbon leader with soft plastics under a cork usually tipped with bait shrimp. If the fish were deeper we fished the soft plastic without a cork allowing it to sink which worked extremely well with the flounder. Even though the wind was tough, we took a basket of fish to the cleaning table every day, thanks mostly to our knowledgeable guide, Capt. Thomas.
I always like to be in on the latest and best and I saw a lot of both at Marsh Madness 2017. The second night was “Show and Tell” with lure manufactures and outdoor product reps displaying their latest products with many of them actually giving samples to us. Everything from hooks, boat catalogs, latest mapping CDs, new lures, sun shades, tee shirts, rain suits to name a few as all of the attendees rub elbows with thousands of folks who love the outdoors. As most of you know, fishermen love to have the latest and best so companies feel giving away samples to this bunch is a good way to introduce their new products to lots of anglers and boaters.
One night we had a couple of experts that spoke in depth about the problem of losing huge amounts of the marsh area especially on the southern portion of the Mississippi Delta. There is currently a strong movement to inform anglers and enlist political officials to stand with us on this issue. Public funding is necessary to reverse this trend as fishing/boating is a multibillion industry and creates a lot of tax revenues in this country so hopefully some of the money can go to this issue. Some ‘eye opening’ stats were given on how the Delta’s erosion is negatively impacting fishing of the southern marshes. Personally, I had heard that there were issues of marsh erosion but I did not know how serious it had become. I’m asking anglers to be alert concerning this important issue and to get completely informed.
Joe Joslin is a syndicated writer and is published by numerous websites, newspapers and magazines plus is a pro guide on Toledo Bend and Sam Rayburn and a TPWD licensed guide since 1998. Contact at firstname.lastname@example.org, 337-463-3848/409-565-1288 and website www.joejoslinoutdoors.com.