Leaving Calcasieu Lake for near-offshore oil-field structures pays off with speckled trout in the ice chest when conditions are favorable this month.
No one knows that better than Jeff Poe, a veteran saltwater fishing guide who frequents those structures as much as he can this time of year. One of his favorite destinations is the Johnson Bayou rigs approximately 7 to 8 miles to the west of the Cameron Jetties.
They can be teeming with speckled trout.
“I used to go all the time when I was younger. (Now) I’ll make, I think, 20 trips out there next month and the next month,” said Poe, owner of Big Lake Guide Service.
Going to the Johnson Bayou rigs is a way to get away from the oft-maddening crowd in the popular body of water. Of course, anglers who want to point the bow of their boat that way must take weather conditions and forecasts into consideration because the hotspots are off the coast.
Poe said there aren’t nearly as many structures as there used to be in the heyday of the oil industry. There are seven or eight total, and all of them can give up speckled trout, he said, noting the fish can be anywhere from on the bottom to closer to the surface to just under the surface.
“Be sure to work the whole water column,” he said.
Average depth out there around the rigs is 20 to 25 feet.
His tips for finding the speckled trout include water visibility and current speed. When the water movement is stronger, the fish tend to be deeper, he said.
“If you’ve got visibility of, say, 8 feet plus, sometimes they’ll be deeper, too,” Poe said. “The clearer the water and stronger the current, the deeper they’ll be.
“The sandier the water is, the slacker the current, the higher they’ll be.”
Another key to finding trout is the presence of ladyfish and bluefish: If those species are there, most of the time specks are there, Poe said.
And if hardhead catfish are suspended at any depth, the fish will be above them.
What to fish with? Poe said live bait works well, with Carolina-rigged shrimp and croakers being hard to beat.
But Poe uses soft plastics — mostly MirrOLure’s Lil Johns and H&H Sparkle Beetles — a lot at the rigs.
Sparkle Beetles, he said, are great this time of year because they so closely imitate shrimp.
Colors? For Lil Johns, the molting color has really been good, he said. He also favors opening night and clear/salt-n-pepper.
For Sparkle Beetles, he’s partial to clear/metal flake, chartreuse, smoke and glow.
Sometimes it takes a ½-ounce leadhead to get down past the ladyfish and bluefish to where the speckled trout are lurking, he said. But most of the time, a ¼- or 3/8-ounce leadhead will do just fine.
While you’re out there, look for floating trash on the water because there could be a tasty bonus there.
“Be on the lookout for tripletail,” Poe said.
Fish the debris with soft plastics on light tackle.