If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em.
That’s what some speckled trout anglers do in December on the northern reaches of Calcasieu Lake — especially those who want wallhanger fish weighing up to 10 pounds.
Those anglers get in the water and go wade fishing.
“I’m talking about going after big trophy trout,” veteran saltwater fishing guide Kirk Stansel said.
The 58-year-old Hackberry charter boat captain, who along with his brothers have owned Hackberry Rod & Gun Club the past 13 years shared his vast knowledge and experience on successful wade fishing on a day that seemed more like September.
Stansel and other speckled trout anglers were waiting for some kind of winter to get here.
“(The fishing) hasn’t been great, but it’s been good,” he admitted. “We need some dad-gummed cold fronts. All the bait’s still in the marsh.
“Here it is November, and it’s September. It’s incredible. We’re still in a summer pattern.”
Colder water temps are needed to get big speckled trout moving into the shallows to feed on baitfish, mainly mullet, he said.
“December’s a real good time to wade fish the north end of Calcasieu Lake,” Stansel said. “Draw a line from Commissary Point west to the Texaco Cut — anything on that side. Up around the Turner’s Bay area and Deatonville, a little community on the northeast corner of the lake, are potential hotspots, particularly in December, when it gets started up there, when the water temperature gets into the low 60s and upper 50s.”
First things first, though: Anglers should make sure they wear proper clothing and waders to keep them warm, because an 8-hour or more stay in the water isn’t uncommon.
“You’re going to be out there for the big bite, not filling a stringer up,” Stansel said. “You can fill a stringer, but there’s a real good chance to catch trophy trout.”
Look for baitfish and/or the presence of brown pelicans, he advised. They can lead you to the speckled trout.
Also, many anglers mistakenly haul it to the calm water, out of the wind, to go wade fishing.
“A lot of people are scared to fish the windward shoreline” where the waves are crashing and the water’s often stained, he said.
But sometimes the big speckled trout are still there, he added.
Stansel likes to throw a Super Spook to draw bites on top, with either bone iridescent or clown (gold/white belly) being favored colors.
He’ll also be ready to offer mullet imitations such as Corkys, Catch 2000s and even MirrOlures, mostly with the color themes pearl/chartreuse or orange with a red head.
The key is to be in stealth mode, he said. When the water’s cold, fish very slowly; when the water’s warm, use a faster presentation.
He’ll make fan casts and, if he hasn’t gotten bit in “30, 40 or 50 casts,” he’ll often change artificials. He said a backpack serves as an ideal tacklebox, and he advised wearing a wading belt to which you can attach a good stringer and also put the butt of a fishing rod in a holder.
Your choice of fishing line also is the key.
He prefers 20- or 30-pound PowerPro braid, which has a small diameter. He can cast farther, feel the most subtle of bites (which most of them are) and get solid hooksets.
“I think it’s real important to make long casts because you can cover more water,” Stansel said.
He also uses a 30-pound monofilament line to serve as 2- to 3-foot leaders. You don’t need fluorocarbon line, he said.
He ties a surgeon’s knot or a uniknot and makes a loop for the lure.
His last bit of advice was that, after each trip, wash the artificial lures you bring out there in soapy water, and then let them dry. They’ll last longer and continue to catch speckled trout for many more wade fishing trips in December.