Fishing on Calcasieu Lake this month is for the birds — literally.
Capt. Nick Poe with Big Lake Guide Service said the best way to target speckled trout in October is to keep a watchful eye on the multiple flocks of birds gorging themselves on shrimp coming out of the marsh from about Commissary Point northward.
“From my dock at times (which is located just north of Commissary Point), I can stand there and see 30 or 40 groups of birds picking with my naked eye,” Poe said.
Under the birds, of course, are some awesome Big Lake specks.
“Every once in a while you’ll hit the right school and it will be a bunch of good ones — some 3-pounders,” he said. “But most of the fish will be in the 14- to 15-inch range in October.”
Typically, Poe said his charter trips leave before sunrise, but head to locations where birds are known to dine for breakfast.
“Turner’s Bay is an excellent area,” he said. “Birds are not going to get off the roost until 7:30 or 8 o’clock once the sun gets up pretty high, so we’ll head to a reef in the general area we know some birds will probably pick, and hang out there and catch whatever we can.
“There’s not usually that many fish on reefs that time of year — everything is usually traveling.”
When he spies a group of birds working, Poe carefully heads in that direction, with the goal of getting to within one long cast away from the action.
“Approach from the upwind side. Use everything that Mother Nature gives you to your advantage. Do not try to go against what it’s trying to make you do,” he said. “I want to keep the birds at the end of my cast so that I don’t get so close that I spook the fish. If you see fish busting, you want to keep them at the end of your cast.
“As far as you can cast, that’s where you want them, so when your bait hits the water you’re setting the hook with a fish on. That’s the way you want it to be.”
Lure color typically doesn’t matter much when the specks are in a feeding frenzy, but Poe recommends MirrOlure Lil Johns on ¼-ounce jigheads in glow, golden bream or opening night.
October also typically means redfish action at any of the weirs around Big Lake. Lil Johns are again his artificial lure of choice, and he sometimes uses as much as a ⅜-ounce jighead depending on the current.
“When we get fronts and the water comes pouring out of those weirs, they’ll be there,” he said. “Pull up and go with the lightest leadhead you can get away with, but you have to get your bait to the bottom.
“Most of the time they’ll be right at the weir, but I have seen them before where they’re 75 to 100 yards off of it. But most of the time they’re right at the base.”
If that’s not enough action for you, Poe said flounder get thick this time of year in the very south end of the Ship Channel in Cameron as they head to the Gulf to spawn. He recommended the stretch of bank north of the pogie plant, Monkey Island and Buoy No. 56 for some quality doormats in the 2- to 5-pound range.
“Again, use the lightest jighead you can get away with, but it’s got to be on the bottom,” he said. “I always tell people, ‘You have to maintain contact with your bait, but your bait has to maintain contact with the bottom.’
“It can’t leave the bottom. If it leaves the bottom, you’re not catching as many fish as you should.”