Fish clear water for a large catch

Water clarity dictates the tactics you should use on Calcasieu Lake

There’s a way and an area to catch big speckled trout during June on Calcasieu Lake.

Ask Kirk Stansel. The veteran boat captain has put three heavier than 9 pounds in the boat during his years fishing on Big Lake. The heaviest ol’ yellowmouth was well over 9 and just under 10 but he released it without weighing it.

Stansel, who along with his brothers owns Hackberry Rod & Gun, said anglers increase their chances of hooking up with monster speckled trout by using Super Spooks and Skitterwalks, or Corky’s Fat Boys tied to a 2- to 3-foot long 30-pound monofilament shock leader on 20- or 30-pound Power Pro braided line and fishing the clearest water that can be found south of an imaginary line from Commissary Point to Long Point.

And, most importantly, the saltwater fishing guide said, “If you’re targeting big fish, June is the month.”

Fishing with those aforementioned artificial lures, he said, it’s critical to be in water with 1 ½- to 2-feet of visibility for them “to work well,” i.e., get the attention of speckled trout, get their dander up to smash one or the other, and smash it they do. Hold on to the fishing rod tight, he said, because the ferocious bite from a heavy fish can rip it our of your hands.

Another prerequisite while targeting ol’ yellowmouth is to fish clear water with the presence of baitfish — mullet and/or pogies. Look for slicks, too, tell-tale signs that speckled trout are marauding under the surface.

Scratch the idea of fishing for trophy speckled trout under birds, Stansel advised. Sure, he said, you might “luck up” and pull a good one out of schooling speckled trout, but the odds are improved astronomically when fishing clear water with baitfish around along, say, the east shoreline or over one of the many reefs, according to Stansel.

The top time of the day to hunt for huge speckled trout, the best bite, he said, is the first hour of the day. Also influencing the odds is the tide. On a high tide, he’ll generally fish closer to the shoreline. On a low tide, he’ll fish off the bank, out a ways, if the wind allows.

As for the depth?

“Really, anywhere from the shoreline to the middle of the lake,” he said.

His No.1 choice for an artificial lure is a tossup. He loves to throw a bone-colored Super Spook or bone-colored Skitterwalk. He’ll divert from that color if the water clarity dictates a change.

He likes to “walk the dog” with those topwaters. The key is to find the right, enticing speed, either slow, medium or fast.

When Stansel casts a Fat Boy, his favorite color is pearl with a chartreuse back, he exerts a lot of effort on the retrieve.

“I rip and twitch the bait hard,” he said. “It takes a lot of work to make it work right. In between, I’ll pause it a second of two.”

For some reason, he said, braided line enhances the action and makes the artificial lure even more effective. He remembers a trip when an angler in the boat insisted on using monofilament line while working his Fat Boy. Well, the boat captain and another angler put 40 nice speckled trout in the boat on the Fat Boy. The mono guy had none but caught a few speckled trout on other artificials.

Finally, Stansell said, he convinced the man to throw his own fishing rod loaded with braided line. The angler caught three speckled trout in no time.

“It really makes a difference,” he said.

Going into the second week of May, the lower end of Big Lake was just cleaning up after some torrential rainfall, particularly in the watershed above Lake Charles, and the salinity level was getting higher each day, Stansel reported. The water should be in great shape for June, barring numerous major rainy events.

About Don Shoopman 567 Articles
Don Shoopman fishes for freshwater and saltwater species mostly in and around the Atchafalaya Basin and Vermilion Bay. He moved to the Sportsman’s Paradise in 1976, and he and his wife June live in New Iberia. They have two grown sons.