Like a box of chocolates, anglers “never know what you’re going to get” with weather and water conditions in March.
That’s what veteran charter boat captain Jeff Poe, who owns Big Lake Guide Service, said about speckled trout fishing at Calcasieu Lake in Southwest Louisiana.
Poe does know where he would go this time of year, pretty much regardless of conditions — West Cove.
“It’s a big spot, but it’s a spot,” Poe said the last week of January.
He was rehabbing a shoulder following surgery with the expectation of getting back on the water no later than May.
At the time, Nick and other Big Lake Guide Service charter boat captains were doing fair to good on speckled trout and redfish in the lake system, a promising sign for March. Poe said they were getting limits of redfish and 20-30 speckled trout (or more) each time out.
Those kind of trips and better are what anglers are hopeful of enjoying now. Based on his years of experience, they can happen in West Cove, Poe said.
“As far as March, you’re going to have better water in there,” he said. “It doesn’t have to be that clear, either. A lot of times, you’re looking for the best dirty water you can find.”
West Cove is widely known for its oyster reefs that crisscross the broad expanse of water, harboring speckled trout and redfish.
However, this isn’t the time to probe them.
Poe said speckled trout fishing success is “pretty much shoreline-oriented” at least the first part of the month.
“Most of them will be on the shoreline in 18 inches to 3 feet of water,” he said.
There are patches of oyster beds along the bank. Surprisingly, many of the speckled trout he catches this time of year are over muddy bottoms, perhaps because it’s warmer in those shallow areas, he said.
With that in mind, his go-to artificial lure is a subsurface twitch bait like a MirrOdine, Soft Dine, Fat Boy or Catch 2000 “in no particular order day to day.”
Top colors should be pink or fluorescent or chartreuse.
The key is to look for baitfish and tell-tale slicks. Occasionally an angler will see a mullet flipping the surface as it tries to escape a hungry fish.
It’s a great time to put on the waders, Poe said.
If you’re in a boat, either drift or touch the trolling motor periodically to move along the shoreline, he advised.
“They can be on any shoreline — leeward or windward,” Poe said. “It’s just where the fish are, not necessarily where it’s most comfortable for you.”
Poe said soft plastics can be productive, although he prefers subsurface twitch baits to rile up yellowmouths.
If you want to use soft plastics, try Lil Johns in opening night, a color that’s effective in clear or stained water, chartreuse or watermelon. If the water’s clear, try pink or chartreuse.
Fish them on a 1/8- or, even, 1/16-ounce leadhead.
West Cove also holds its share of flounder, and this month is when more and more start pouring into the body of water as they make their return to inland waters via the bayous.
Poe advised fishing at the mouths of those bayous with soft plastics, either a white curly tail GULP (his favorite) or Lil Johns. Keep the rod tip low and twitch it along the bottom.
Poe can be reached at Big Lake Guide Service by calling 337-598-3268) or going to biglakeguideservice.com.