Go downtown, so to speak, to catch speckled trout consistently in December on Calcasieu Lake.
“Lake Charles — it’s a good December spot right in the center of Lake Charles. There are trout and redfish there. We’re catching (there) right now and it’s better in December,” veteran boat captain Jeff Poe said.
The lake offers prime speckled trout fishing opportunities at just about any depth, which is important during the winter, Poe said.
Primarily there’s deep water, as the Calcasieu Ship Channel runs along the edge of Lake Charles, he said — and there’s a very deep hole where the bottom was dredged to build the Lake Charles Civic Center.
Sometimes you do need a deep hole when it’s bitterly cold, said the saltwater fishing guide who along with his wife, Mary, and son, Nick, own Big Lake Guide Service.
“The edges of the Ship Channel and the edges of the deep hole are 30-, 40-feet deep and sometimes the fish suspend in 8-10-feet of water. I’ve caught them even dead on top,” Poe said.
And, he added, the birds often are still picking in December to give away the location of speckled trout.
“That’ll be something to look for, and they make slicks, which are a good thing to key on, also,” he said. With the Interstate 10 Bridge as a backdrop, speckled trout also can be caught on the north beach that is so popular for sailboats during warmer months. Lots of time, mullet stack up there and the speckled trout fishing can be fast and furious, according to Poe.
And there are hard bottoms — including many shell beds along the way.
Another plus to that area is it’s away from tidal movement — an important factor for the fish when it’s very cold.
“It’s a very small body of water, but it’s got a lot of different things to fish, everything a fish can ask for,” Poe said. “It’s got it all. If it gets real cold, they like that, too, away from the tide. You never know. We may have a winter this year.”
Another perennial hot spot (weather and water conditions permitting)’ is right underneath the bridge. Consult a GPS because a lot is marked there, he said, such as edges of holes and edges of the Ship Channel.
“The north end of it (the lake), especially the northwest corner close to the Ship Channel, that’s where most of the hard bottoms are, off the beach and along the edge of the Ship Channel,” the boat captain said.
He had a tip for those who want to probe the depths for speckled trout in December: Use Seaguar InvisX fluorocarbon line like he does.
“I use 10-pound test line. A lot of people probably will like 12(-pound test line) better,” he said. “It (the fluorocarbon line) can make a huge difference in what you catch. When you’re getting down deep, it works better, it works real well.”
Most of the time getting bites means fishing deep by tightlining a 1/8- or ¼-ounce leadhead, and, occasionally, a 1/16-ounce leadhead, with a MirrOLure Lil John soft plastic bait.
“I don’t hardly ever go heavier than a ¼-ounce,” he said. “Sometimes they eat a lighter head than a heavier one in deep water.”
As for colors, chartreuse/ice was hot, as well as gold/red flake. Chicken-on-a-chain has been real effective, too, as well as avocado/red flake.
When Poe targets fish in 6-foot depths or less, as he did in mid-October while catching lots of specks — including two 5-pound plus fish — he’ll tie on a MirrOdine, SoftDine or Fat Boy. Top Fat Boy colors are (09) orange belly/black side or (01) pearl/chartreuse.
Cast and start retrieving the soft plastic as soon as it hits the water — you don’t have to count down, Poe said. Vary the retrieve, though, because sometimes the fish want it slow and sometimes they want it fast.