When I first envisioned a comprehensive article to make sense out of all the lure options available to speckled trout fishermen, it became obvious I needed the help of someone who really knew his stuff.
They say experience is the best teacher, and nothing succeeds like success. So I turned to Jeff and Mary Poe, owners of Big Lake Guide Service (337-598-3268.)
The couple began their business on the eastern shore of Calcasieu Lake 33 years ago. Both guided full-time. Mary has since retired from the water to manage their business and serve as chef at their fishing lodge. (Look elsewhere in this issue for the Louisiana Seafood Bible column featuring two of her delicious recipes.)
Raised in Hoover, Alabama as a soft-spoken country boy, Jeff came to Louisiana to be a duck guide at Hackberry Rod & Gun Club and stayed on to guide fishermen for three or four years. He did, at one point, make a move to Birmingham to work in real estate, but came back after only one year.
“I had to go back — fishing,” he grinned. “Once you do this, there’s nothing quite like it. It’s fun.”
The couple developed quite a reputation for catching lots of speckled trout, and lots of big trout. Jeff’s 9-pound, 5-ounce speck still holds the No. 1 all-time spot for a fly rod-caught speckled trout in the Louisiana record books.
The couple brought son Nick into the business in 2008, when he was 19 years old. Until he was a senior in high school, he paid more attention to duck hunting and baseball than fishing.
But the learning came quickly.
“The best thing that helped me was five years fishing the Redfish Cup,” he said seriously. “I fished all different places and I had to figure out how to catch fish in each of them.
“I experienced fishing in water with 10 feet of visibility and a 9-foot tide on the East Coast. You got about 30 seconds to do some learning, or you are stuck.”
Now, Nick makes 200 trips a year fishing and puts in 60 days guiding during teal and duck season.
The lake they fish in has provided an ideal environment for them to become experts at all three speckled trout lure types. It has always offered an explosive topwater fishery, in addition to a vigorous jig bite.
Lake Calcasieu has also served as the gateway to Louisiana for introducing the use of suspending lures, such as Paul Brown’s Corkys and Fat Boys.