John N. Felsher's Offshore Fishing Adventures
|Articles and photos on
this website are for the
viewing pleasure of
patrons of this site.
All articles and photos on
this site are protected by
the copyright laws of the
United States. Any
unauthorized usage is
strictly prohibited. If you
wish to purchase an
article or photo, contact
John N. Felsher as listed
in the contact section.
|Articles and photos on
this website are free for
your viewing pleasure,
but it takes money to
keep this site up and
running. If you would care
to help keep this site up
and running for the use of
all outdoors patrons, you
can make a cash
contribution. If you care to
donate, contact John N.
Felsher as listed in the
|How you can
help keep this
Louisiana anglers battle giant tuna
over the legendary Midnight Lump
Terrell Woosley, Spencer Chapman, Hunter Ewing, Jennings Ewing,
Jordan Woosley, Rocky Chapman and Leon Norris show off a
180-pound yellowfin tuna they caught in the Gulf of Mexico south
of Venice, La., while fishing aboard the Balancing Act of Paradise
In August 2005, Hurricane Katrina destroyed many manmade
structures in the Gulf of Mexico, but it left intact one of the oldest and best
places to land lunkers.
Officially called Sackett Bank, but more commonly known as the
Midnight Lump, one of the tallest “mountains” in Louisiana rises from about
700 feet of water to crest about 185 feet below the surface south of
Venice. The massive salt dome sits about 18 miles south of the Mississippi
River delta at 28.63 Degrees North and 89.56 Degrees West. Covering
about two square miles, this old salt dome sits within 12 miles of the
extremely deep water of the Mississippi Canyon.
Currents flowing from the deep waters of the Gulf smash against this
submerged mountain, hurtling plankton toward the surface. Baitfish gather
to feast on plankton in the extremely fertile waters of the Mississippi River
delta. Game fish, like king mackerel, dolphin, cobia, wahoo, marlin and
sailfish, go where they can feed.
However, most people know the Midnight Lump for its fabulous tuna
fishing, probably some of the best in the world. In the winter, yellowfins
probably average slightly more than 100 pounds, but some exceed 200
pounds. Anthony Taormina landed the Louisiana state record yellowfin, a
240.19-pounder, in March 2005. One year earlier, Tom W. Moughon
caught a 235-pounder in the same area.
“We catch tuna all year long, just in different places,” said Capt. Devlin
Roussel, a skipper for Reel Peace Charters in Venice. “The waters off the
Louisiana Delta are some of the most viable winter fisheries in the world.
Yellowfins start showing up at the Midnight Lump in October and start
moving off the Lump in March. Years ago, fish stayed around the Lump to
eat baitfish pushed up by the currents. Now, they stay because of the
2,000 pounds of chum thrown into the water each day. It’s not uncommon
to see more than 100 boats chumming for tuna on the Lump each day.”
The crew of the Miss Cathy -- Mike and Paul Ippolito, Pat Fitzmorris
and Ron Roland – landed the lunker of the Gulf of Mexico. After a grueling
5.5-hour fight and a 7-hour tow back to Port Eads, La., the team landed a
giant bluefin tuna at the Midnight Lump on May 25-26, 2003. At 1,152
pounds, this fish weighed more than any other game fish ever landed in the
Gulf of Mexico.
In the winter, most people “chum” for tuna on the Lump. They toss
chunks of menhaden, very oily baitfish also known as pogies, to keep tuna
near the surface. People also catch bonitos, a smaller, not as tasty cousin
of tuna, to use as bait. With fish frenzied by free food hitting the water,
people toss lines baited with bonito or menhaden chunks. Drifting with the
currents, these lines rarely sink more than a few feet before something
grabs the bait and begins ripping line from the reels.
“Chumming is a good way to attract fish,” said Capt. Peace Marvel of
Reel Peace Charters. “Fish go where they can eat. We put pogies in the
chum churn and shake it up. It grinds them up and puts bits of fish, scales,
oil and guts in the water. Fish smell that. Often, it brings in the bonito first.
After the bonito show up, big yellowfin tuna show up. If the bonito eat the
bait, we use bigger chunks until we get past the bonito to the tuna.”
Sometimes, anglers toss baits over the side by hand after anchoring
their rods in holders. Flicking their wrists, they skip the baits over the
surface like bass anglers using topwater baits. When big tuna explode on
the bait, the anglers quickly drop the lines before they loose any fingers
and pull the rods out of the holders to battle the swift, flashy beasts of the
deep. Sometimes, people might battle one large yellowfin for more than an
hour, frequently handing rods to other “fresh” anglers.
“Tuna are fast, powerful fish,” Marvel said. “Fishing like this will
change the way anyone looks at a can of tuna.”
Opportunistic feeders, tuna eat a variety of prey -- almost anything
they can devour. They eat fish including small jacks, plus squids,
crustaceans and other morsels. Besides drifting menhaden or other baits,
some anglers tempt tuna with topwater plugs or even fly tackle. Some
people cast or troll spoons or other lures and baits.
“We use a lot of live baits, but if I had my choice, I’d use flying fish,”
said Capt. Scott Avanzino who used to run Paradise Outfitters in Venice.
“Tuna eat a lot of flying fish, but flying fish are not as prevalent in the
winter. In the winter, tuna come up on the continental shelf and feed on
pogies, mullets coming out of the marshes and herring. In the summer, we
come up next to floating seaweed in the dark and put a light over the side.
Flying fish see the light and swim toward the surface where we catch them
in dip nets.”
Dr. Randy E. Edwards, a research professor at the University of South
Florida in St. Petersburg, tagged a number of yellowfin tuna off Louisiana
for a study. Anyone catching a tuna with a tag inside of it should call
Edwards at (727) 803-8747, extension 3069. For booking trips with
Paradise Outfitters, call (985) 845-8006. On line, see www.paradise-
outfitters.com. For Reel Peace Charters, call (985) 534-2278. On line, see