Photog Blog: By Jason Stemple

Lousiana Shows

An Introduction:
I’m a freelance photographer, a fisherman and a fan of fishing shows. A few years ago I
was invited to shoot with the Into the Blue crew on all their shoots and I jumped at the
opportunity. I had never been an offshore guy, mostly fishing the flats and inshore waters
and fly-fishing for trout when away from the sea. So, for me this would not only be a
great photography gig, but a chance to learn from some of the best in a realm of fishing
that I knew very little about. As a bonus, I would get to travel to some great locations,
spend my work days on the ocean and witness some incredible fishing and nature at its
best. I will periodically post here with my experiences and images to go along with the
shows as they air. Please feel free to ask questions or give me shout if you want to talk
fishing, photography or the mixing of the two.

As you will see over the next few shows, we made a trip to Venice Louisiana this season
to fish with the guys at the Mexican Gulf Fishing Company. I was fired up for this trip as
I had heard plenty of stories over the years about the fishing down there. Besides a
standard New Orleans party trip a lifetime ago, I had never been to Louisiana, and
certainly never experienced the fishing in the northern Gulf of Mexico. We arrived from
all different directions, a few of us meeting up first at the New Orleans airport then
altogether at a little Cajun restaurant just outside of the city. We filled the table up with
Gumbo, po-boys, boiled and fried seafood and a little fried gator, before loading back up
and heading further south till we ran out of land.

Mexican Gulf Fishing Company had set us up at some elevated condos a mile or two
from the marina and a stone’s throw from the Mississippi. You could look straight across
from our deck at the dike which failed to hold back the water during Katrina, and see the
waterlines way up the sides of buildings that weren’t as high as we were standing. We
awoke the first morning to 20-30kt winds as the weatherman had predicted and were
happy to be inside setting up gear, and shooting tips as opposed to getting beat up and
wet in what we could only imagine were huge seas.

The next day despite still solid winds, we were able to get out with the help of a new
Yellowfin 39’ and I was able to finally get the full Venice, Louisiana experience. There
was a lot more for me to take in then just the fishing, which I will get into more next
week. On the way to the marina we passed buildings still flat on their sides from Katrina
and cars and trucks hundreds of yards out in the marsh. Then as we approached the
waterways, the multitude of industries started to appear- oil drilling and exploration,
shrimpers, crabbers, commercial fishermen and charter fishermen all were out in force
seeming to coexist. The amount and variety of vessels is mind boggling, and I found my
mind wandering trying to figure out what each boat’s purpose could be. There seems to
be a whole industry built just around transporting workers back and forth from the oil rigs
with boats and helicopters constantly on the move. Once on the water, there’s even more
to see, I’m used to the offshore fishing in the Keys, where once you head out of port
you’re out in the open ocean pretty quickly. From Venice we would have a 30 mile run
through marshes and rivers before getting out into the Gulf. And once you got out into
the Gulf, there were structures in every direction as far you could see. Each structure was
a little different and had different purposes in the oil drilling and transport industry and
I’m sure each had different characteristics that would affect its ability to hold fish or bait.
So each day we would venture out, first to a structure that would be holding incredible
amounts of baits and load up before moving on to explore other rigs that would
hopefully be holding the big predators the area is know for. The first 2 shows highlight an
amazing day chasing big Yellowfin Tuna around a mobile exploratory drilling ship, but
I’ll talk more about that day next week.

Scott and steve pulling on some big yellowfins. nikon d800, 200mm, f/6.3, 1/640 sec

Scott and steve pulling on some big yellowfins. nikon d800, 200mm, f/6.3, 1/640 sec