Lake Calcasieu is home to some big-time speckled trout, but it can be a tough place to fish if you aren’t familiar with reef locations and how the Ship Channel influences the bite.
In this excerpt from Trout Masters Too: How the pros do it, Capt. Erik Rue with Calcasieu Charter Service shares tips that you can use on Big Lake, and across the coast, to catch more specks.
— If you want to target big trout with artificial baits, you must have top-notch equipment. You have to be able to make long casts; that’s the key deal for catching big trout.
— Keep a full spool of line to allow longer casts. The vast majority of trophy trout Rue has caught have been on the outer 25 percent of the cast.
— It is a worthless experience to be the second or third boat to try to fish under diving birds. Probably only one boat can really be in position to catch fish unless it is a super-school or conditions are flat calm. If there are birds working in one spot, there will be others. Use your binoculars to find them. Coming in on another boat just ruins everyone’s fishing and creates hard feelings.
— If you dislike crowds, fish in the afternoons. Things quiet down on the lake then.
— If you catch a fish, stop and drop your anchor or Power-Pole. Fish usually aren’t by themselves.
— Follow the food. Watch for mullet jumping, swirling or with their heads at the surface. If you get in an area with a high concentration of bait, trout will be around somewhere.
— Learn the locations of reefs in deeper water and hard sand bottoms in shallow wading water. Read articles and use the trial-and-error approach. Where you see birds working there is some kind of good, hard bottom there. When you feel jigheads hang up, you are on a reef. Punch the location into your GPS, and then come back and try it. Some produce fish; some don’t.
— Use the wind to your advantage to drift your boat through the area to be fished. Trout will run from a trolling motor set on high speeds. Set the motor on low, and use it sparingly.
— Pay attention to your surroundings. Watch for “mud” churned by moving fish.
— Study tides. There is a big difference in time of tide change at the top of the system compared to the bottom. Wind also has a strong effect on tides. When the wind is from the east, high tides are higher than predicted. When the wind is out of the west, low tides are lower. The strength of the tide has a lot to do with water clarity. When the tide is strong, it will muddy the water close to the ship channel.
— Wind direction is very important to factor in when deciding where to fish, as it dictates water quality. Picking lee shores to fish means a lot, but is not everything. Remember that the effects of tide strength on water clarity are layered in on wind direction.
— Calcasieu Lake can get rough, but it has a lot of access points. If you have a small boat, launch on a protected shoreline for safety.
— Live bait is a great equalizer. Having it on hand increases newcomers’ chances of success.
— Learn to work baits properly, whether topwater, mid-range or bottom lures. Bait selection is more important than changing color. If you aren’t catching fish, move instead of changing colors; you aren’t in the fish.
— When fishing in shallow water (4 feet deep or less), fish slowly and thoroughly.
Learn more about how the best guides and anglers across the Louisiana coast catch trout day in, day out by purchasing the Trout Masters Tool Kit, which includes a special package price for Trout Masters: How Louisiana’s Best Anglers Catch the Lunkers and Trout Masters Too: How the pros do it.