Small boat, Big Lake, no problem

Fishing Calcasieu Lake in small boats is just a matter of knowing where to go

OK then, you have a small boat, you want to fish for specks and reds, and you think you can’t do it. But you can.

Take, for example, Opelousas’ Craig Vidrine and his wife Paula. They love catching reds, specks and flounder — but they only have a 15-foot aluminum boat with a 30 horsepower outboard.

What’s a couple that loves saltwater fishing to do?Just go fish Calcasieu Lake south of Lake Charles.

Now you might be thinking, “But that’s an immense estuary running 12 by 9 miles long.”

Vidrine has some compelling arguments, however, for you to wrap your mind around this “small boat, big lake” problem.

“We fish Big Lake – mostly on the south end where we find reds, flounder and specks,” he said. “Camping at Ellender Bridge, we motor to cuts north of the jetty landing. We’ve taken good reds, flounder and specks there on more than just one trip.”

Vidrine and his wife work electric chicken Bass Assassin plastics and market shrimp for these fish. Yesterday (July 18), redfish and a few specks were taken farther north on glow/chartreuse Egret Baits’ Bayou Chubs.

There is a caveat however: You want your smartphone battery charged and your weather radar app working well.

“You must pay attention to the weather,” Vidrine said. “Also, if there’s a strong southerly Gulf wind blowing in you shouldn’t go.

“But if you plan well and have a working iPhone, you shouldn’t get into trouble — and you’ll catch some good fish.”

In Big Lake to the north, Lake Charles’ Ken Chaumont often takes advantage of the “little waters” of Big Lake when fishing in a small boat to catch big trout and redfish from now until November. Chaumont’s fishing playground is Big Lake, Sabine Lake and the beaches between them where he constantly works with captains and others marketing and testing new lures for Stanley Jigs and Egret Baits.

“We have many anglers who fish in small boats, especially in the north end of the lake,” Chaumont said. “And there are easy access points to these areas.”

The angler specifically mentioned little waters within the Calcasieu system to include the LNG canal, Moss Lake; Prien Lake, points and islands in and around the main channel near the Interstate 210 bridge, points and islands near the L’Auberge du Lac Casino Resort north of the I-210 bridge, and of course Lake Charles itself.

“Fish here – especially for quality specks, and redfish — will start now and even get better as we ease into the fall,” Chaumont said. “There’s some big fish taken especially near the LNG canal, as some recent 7-pound specks taken there will give evidence.”

As for patterns, Chaumont recommended watching for birds working Moss Lake and Prien Lake from now and even into the heat of August. Also, points in and around the boat channel should be worked thoroughly with topwaters early in the morning – and then with Wedgetail Minnows and Bayou Chub plastics later in the day.

Calcasieu Point Landing provides easy access to the LNG canal, Moss Lake and — with a little running – Prien Lake. There also is live shrimp and other bait species available to anglers. The address to the landing is 3955 Henry Pugh Boulevard, Lake Charles, LA 70605. The phone number is 337-479-1536.

For quicker access to the I-210 areas and to the north, there is also a public launch on the northeast banks of the I-210 bridge.

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About Chris Berzas 368 Articles
Chris Berzas has fished and hunted in the Bayou State ever since he could hold a rod and shoot a shotgun. Berzas has been a freelancer featured in newspapers, magazines, television and DVDs since 1989.

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