Specks, reds start feeding up as weather changes
A veteran charter boat captain can fish Calcasieu Lake any time he wants.
If Kirk Stansel, who along with his brothers Bobby and Guy owns Hackberry Rod & Gun, wasn’t a saltwater fishing guide, he knows when he would want to be on Big Lake, as it is known in southwest Louisiana.
“Oh, yeah, I l-o-v-e October,” Stansel said, emphasizing the word “love”. “If I had one month to take off, I’d take off Oct. 15 to Nov. 15. If I had to take a vacation. It’s probably the best month of the year to catch fish. The entire system explodes. What happens is, cold fronts are coming in.”
That’s when speckled trout, redfish and even flounder begin gorging themselves for the fast-approaching winter, Stansel knows from experience. They get “turned on,” he said.
He will go to any number of areas that get hot.
“I’m telling you, Turner’s Bay, anywhere in West Cove, you can fish the reefs, under the birds, along the shoreline. I don’t care how you like to fish — topwater, soft plastics, suspending lures, live baits — all of it works,” he said.
The best spots
Stansel is partial to one spot: the upper end of the lake just south of the Intracoastal Waterway, within sight of the The Ellender Bridge.
“Turner’s Bay is real good,” he said. “(You can fish where) the birds are working, or drift until you hit a fish. It varies. I mainly go up there and look for birds. If not, I drift the reefs. If I hit something, I anchor off right there. When you get in ‘em, you want to keep ‘em going. Also, you can catch redfish on the shoreline up there, and you catch bigger trout on the shoreline.”
Two access points are nearby: Calcasieu Point Landing and the Ellender Bridge Landing. The Calcasieu Bridge Landing has a bait shop that sells live shrimp, which the finfish love to eat.
What to use
Stansel said he usually fishes with a soft plastic, specifically a watermelon/red Lil John on a ¼-ounce leadhead. He fishes it on 30-pound Power Pro braid with a 2-foot leader of 30-pound monofilament attached either with a barrel swivel or a Uni-Knot.
Why a braided line setup?
“I just do. It doesn’t cut if you get in the oysters,” he said.
Overall, saltwater fishing in the system “has come around this year” despite impacts from two hurricanes in 2020 and a deep freeze over the winter. Most of the speckled trout that went into ice chests this year averaged 17 to 20 inches long.
Turner’s Bay can get crowded at times, especially in October.
“Yeah. It’s usually crowded on weekends, and a lot of times it’s crowded during the week, especially after a cold front,” he said. “Shrimp come out of the marsh and go up the river and stuck up in there.”
For more information about Kirk Stansel or to set up a fishing trip on Lake Calcasieu, call 337-762-3391.