Editor's Note: See the sidebar above right on Capt. Nick Poe's tips to walk the dog and effectively use topwater lures on Big Lake.
The rapid fire 'swish-swish-swish' of Capt. Nick Poe’s rod as he walked the dog over oyster reefs in Big Lake Wednesday was followed up regularly with the splash of a nice speckled trout blowing up his MirrOlure She Pup.
Poe, with Big Lake Guide Service, said topwater lures are often an effective way of locating finicky trout that might turn up their noses at an artificial bait on a jighead in the middle of the summer.
“Sometimes they’ll just watch that jig go by and you won’t get a bite. And you can make the same drift by with topwaters and you may get a few blowups,” Poe said. “But you don’t necessarily have to catch the fish to learn something about it. You can learn a lot from just getting a bite.
“If you anchor up and fish that one blowup, you may end up picking up four or five fish. At this time of the year, if you can catch four or five fish everywhere you go, you’re doing pretty good.”
Even though the calendar says we’re approaching mid-July, and Poe caught a pretty easy limit Wednesday morning, he believes the specks are still running about a month behind.
“I would say it’s like late May or the first- to middle-part of June,” he said. “We didn’t see any amount of birds start picking until probably the last week of June. That’s usually something we’re seeing in the middle of May.
“That right there just kind of tells me we’re almost a month behind.”
Poe places the blame for the hit-and-miss speck action on Louisiana’s unusually cold winter and the windy, stormy spring they’ve endured on Big Lake.
“I think the fishery itself is fine. Last year we had a slow year. We had plenty of days where I thought we should have caught them and we didn’t,” he said. “This year I haven’t seen that. The days that we should catch them, we’ve caught them. And the days we shouldn’t, we’ve got a 20 mph wind and we don’t.
“Other than that, I don’t see any kind of problem with the fishing whatsoever.”
Poe suggested fishing the deeper reefs in the middle of the lake and working the ledges of the Ship Channel to find specks right now, either with MirrOlure Lil John soft plastics on a ¼-ounce jighead or with lures like a Paul Brown’s Corky or a MirrOdine XL.
A big key with working artificial lures is to anticipate the bite on the fall and to keep your line tight, he said.
“But that doesn’t mean reeling to keep it tight. Keeping it tight means after you twitch it, you can control the rate of the bait’s fall with your rod tip,” he said. “It’s not necessarily reeling your bait to keep it tight.”
On Wednesday, Poe made stops at reefs near Long Point and Commissary Point, the Chenier Reef, the CCA Brad Vincent Reef and he fished the rocks along the old jetties.
“The deeper reefs will be your more consistent reefs,” Poe said. "The Ship Channel you can go in, and you may not burn them but you can add them up and catch 30 fish a day working the edge on the drop-offs.”
Tide-wise, Poe prefers days with two tidal movements rather than four.
“With two-tide days, they’re both strong. With four-tide days, they’re all weak,” he said. “The beginning of the tide is usually your best bite. At the end of the tide, you’ll have another little flurry. In between, you’ll have a lot of picking go on.”
The stronger the tide, the further Poe positions himself from the Ship Channel.
“You have to get away from it a little bit when it’s ripping because a fish doesn’t want to sit and fight the tide,” he said. “The weaker the tide, you have to start inching back towards the Channel.”