If one of Southwest Louisiana’s top speckled trout fishermen had his druthers — and he does — and could point the bow of his boat to fish for speckled trout in June anywhere on Calcasieu Lake, it would be the southern Cheniere Reef.
Jeff Poe, who owns Big Lake Guide Service with his wife Mary and son Nick, hardly hesitated when he named his leading choice for giving up the lake’s speckled trout this time of year.
“One place in June? Gracious, alive,” Poe said when naming the artificial reef in the mid-lake area, roughly a half mile off the south bank.
The exact coordinate is N29°50.959’, W93°17.003’.
Cheniere Reef is one of two reefs born of mitigation after Cheniere Energy built a pipeline across the middle of the lake, he said. The company had to build two shell reefs in the late 2000s (the other is located farther up the lake).
Cheniere Reef pulls in fish like a magnet.
“Oh, yeah, it attracts them good,” Poe said. “That reef’s probably the only reef with any surviving oysters, live oysters. That’s what makes it good.
“It’s a good-sized reef, almost like two parts to it, probably a total of 250 yards — and there are humps on it. To me, that’s why it’s the only reef surviving on the southern end because it has a few humps.”
His preference is to fish the artificial reef on an outgoing tide but, by the same token, he said fish probably remain there no matter what.
“I’m sure you can fish it in(coming), too,” Poe said.
It’s a very public spot, which means it’s a community hole.
“There will be people there, depending on what day of the week it is. Usually during the week it’s less crowded,” he said.
For sure, speckled trout love the place. Occasionally, redfish do cross it, as do sheepshead that can be caught on bait shrimp.
The average depth is 6 to 7 feet deep. The humps he mentioned rise ½- to 2-feet in some spots, he said.
Poe said any artificial lure in the tackle box can coax bites. He likes topwaters such as SheDogs, Super Spooks and Skitterwalks.
He advised throwing “your favorite topwater bait.” Sometimes the fish prefer wild colors while other times it takes a gold/silver combination to get their attention.
“When the water warms up, topwater’s usually a good bait,” Poe said.
But so are slow-sinking twitch baits such as MirrOdines, Fat Boys and SoftDines, he said.
Naturally, the proven standbys — soft plastics — can do a number on speckled trout. H&H’s Cocoho Minnows, Salty Grubs and Sparkle Beetles are very effective on 1/8-ounce leadheads “most of the time.”
Occasionally, Poe said, he’ll fish with a ¼-ounce leadhead.
Also, live shrimp under popping corks do very well.
Since it is a “people” place, if you get the drift, Poe had some words of wisdom on how to fish it.
“When I’m fishing it, I like to sneak up on the places I’m fishing, idle up (to within) 200 to 250 yards and go with the trolling motor; then drift from there,” Poe said, noting he likes to approach it from the upcurrent side or drift downwind.
What’s galling, he said, is the people who are there, get frustrated, crank up and run away from Cheniere Reef.
“At least troll out,” Poe said. “You get some who crank up and roar away, jump up on plane right in the middle of the oyster reef.
“Just because you don’t catch them doesn’t mean they’re not there.”
In other words, the guy behind you might know how to catch them, even if you couldn’t, so don’t spoil his or her chances.