Calcasieu rebound?

Warm weather will help March trout fishing

Will Calcasieu Lake rebound from what many speckled trout fishermen believe was a subpar year in 2018?

Depending on the weather and water conditions in southwest Louisiana, they’ll find out in March. If a cold, wet winter drags on well into the month, well, better luck next month. If it’s warm and dry, game’s on for speckled trout.

“March is a tough one — one of the hardest months to predict. It can be a good trout month or a terrible trout month, depending on how much rain and the temperature. If it stays cold and wet, it’ll be tough. If it is warm and dry, fishing should be good,” said Kirk Stansel, who along with his brothers, Guy and Bobby Joe, own Hackberry Rod & Gun.

Stansel is hoping against hope that a cold front doesn’t greet March fishermen. A freeze last winter was responsible for a subpar 2018, he believes, citing the after-effects of the worst fish kill since 1989. The next year wasn’t a successful one but, he said, “1991 was good. They bounce back, but they won’t be big.”

Last year’s fishing malaise was compounded by freshwater, a lot of rain, he said, and this is the fourth year of a rain cycle that’s brought to the area an enormous amount of freshwater.

If conditions are favorable in March, Stansel and other anglers will target speckled trout in the muddy, shallow areas along the West Cove shoreline that warm up quickly, he said.

“I’m hoping it’s in the 60s,” he said of the water temperature. “If it’s in the 50s, you’ve got to slow the presentation down. You won’t get a lot of bites, but you will get a big bite.”

Jesse White with a giant stringer of fish caught in Calcasieu Lake using a Paul Brown Corky.
Jesse White with a giant stringer of fish caught in Calcasieu Lake using a Paul Brown Corky.

Stansel recommends fishing those mud-bottom areas later in the day, after the sun rises and warms the water. The prerequisite is to find such an area with baitfish and decent water, he said.

When the wind isn’t too strong he’ll fish the windward shorelines.

“If there’s only a little chop, I’ll fish the windward side. Wave action warms the water up,” said Stansel, who will throw Corky Fat Boys or MirrOdines featuring some chartreuse, on braided line. Braided line is smaller in diameter and allows the angler to cast farther, he said, and during the retrieve, when the artificial lure is twitched, they dart quicker because there is no stretch.

Stansel does use a 2-foot leader of 20- to 30-pound monofilament connecting the Corky Fat Boy or MirrOdine to the braided line and ties the leader to it with an improved clinch knot.

“I’ve caught a lot of big fish on that. When you get a bite, they hammer it,” he said.

Perhaps Stansel’s all-time favorite lure for March — or any other time, for that matter — is a topwater Super Spook, bone-colored with iridescent sides. If the water is ultra-clear, use a model with clear sides and chartreuse on the top and bottom. Clown and white/red head models also are effective.

Because it’s a topwater bait, Stansel usually fishes it in warmer water conditions, 60 degrees and above strictly.

“On warm days, two or three consecutive days, I’ll pull out the topwater and chunk it,” he said.

Don Shoopman
About Don Shoopman 262 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.