The other Venice: On the water in Louisiana
When I called Susan Gros from Reel Louisiana Adventures to set up an interview, she said: You think we can get you out on the water?
I hadn't fished since age five. But Venice is one of the richest spots for it in the world. People pay hundreds of dollars a day to fish here. Plus, Susan is a champion angler.
We met at dawn at Paradise Point dock.
Our boat captain launched from a nearby marsh.
We sped out to the barrier islands in search of redfish.
Even Susan held on tight.
Once we got there, the skills of Susan and boat captain Buddy Bergeron paid off quick. We hit a run of huge redfish, or "bull reds." Yes, folks, that's actual size!
Susan taught me how to hold my catch for the photo. "Tuck that belly down! Show that pretty tail!" she yelled. Hard to do...those guys are slippery.
Out on the water, you see how intertwined fishing and oil production are down here. Pelicans perch on pipes and platforms built by oil and gas companies.
Ok, I got hooked. Our day on the water was mesmerizing, and I can see why Susan left a decades-long corporate career to start her fishing tour business.
But her dream is on hold for now. At this time of year, she'd usually be booked for the summer, setting up this fishing trips for families, friends or even corporate groups. Since the spill, she gets one call every few weeks.
She took a job at Home Depot, in the garden center, because she can't be sure when fishing will be back to normal. Susan tells me BP gave millions of dollars to promote tourism for places hurt by the spill, like Venice. But that money went to Louisiana state officials, and they're pushing untarnished destinations like New Orleans instead.
Susan is still running Reel Louisiana Adventures, in her off hours. She says there's one silver lining to the past year: If fewer people are fishing now, that means more fish to catch for her down the line.