Turner’s Bay reef is hot spot on Big Lake

Try throwing big suspending baits such as Corky’s and Mirrodines for big fish near the bank.
Try throwing big suspending baits such as Corky’s and Mirrodines for big fish near the bank.

Cove in northern reaches of Lake Calcasieu convenient to all three area launches

Capt. Nick Poe didn’t hesitate when asked about a wintertime speckled trout location on Big Lake within a short ride of the boat launch.

“Your best bet is probably going to be Turner’s Bay,” said Poe, a long-time captain with Big Lake Guide Service who noted the cove northeast of Cutoff Point was convenient to all three of Big Lake’s launches: Spicer-Hughes Marina and Motel in Hackberry, Calcasieu Point Landing and Hebert’s Marina.

“The whole thing is pretty much a reef, so it’s really not that difficult to fish. But you’re definitely looking for an out-going tide,” Poe said. “It’s more tide-driven than anything — I’ve caught fish over every square inch of it, seems like.

“If you’re targeting a big trout, obviously you’d want to be a little closer to the bank in shallower water. If you just want to catch a bunch of trout and probably some redifsh mixed in, drifting any of those reefs out in 5 feet water or so are good.”

Poe’s go-to artificial bait is a tight-lined MirrOlure Lil John. He fishes with 20-pound braid, tipped with about a 6-foot piece of 20-pound fluorocarbon.

“Usually we’re tight-lining because most of your fish are going to be oriented toward the bottom at that time of year. But we will use a lighter jighead to get that slower sink rate, an 1/8-ounce or even as small as a 1/16 ounce,” he said. “If we’re fishing for big fish on the bank, we’re going to be throwing big suspending baits: Corky’s and MirrODines.”

In his experience, this month isn’t particularly a great time to throw topwater lures.

“They may hit at a topwater, but they usually don’t eat it in February,” Poe said. “I’ve seen it, but your chances are better on a suspended bait.”

If the water is stained, Poe suggested Lil Johns in glow or chartreuse, or a pearl Fat Boy with a chartreuse back if you want to throw a suspending bait. If the water is better, he suggested Lil Johns in opening night and watermelon red, or an opening night Fat Boy.

Part of the bay is open to the Ship Channel, he said.

“It’s got a big flow of water, and bait coming out of the north, along with a few bayous leading into it — and it’s got an island,” he said. “So it’s got some visible structure that somebody can pull up to and say, ‘Hey, this looks like there should be a fish here.’”

Another variable to keep in mind is water temperature.

“I pay close attention to water temperature in the wintertime,” Poe said. “Two degrees can make all the difference in the world. I don’t like fishing in anything under 50, but it can be done.

“We get a lot of days in February when it’s in the 70s and foggy — those are the days you want to be out there at daylight. But if it’s blowing 15 to 20 out of the north and it’s 35 degrees, you may want to wait and go in the late-afternoon.”

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Patrick Bonin is the former editor of Louisiana Sportsman magazine and LouisianaSportsman.com.