Conditions improving at Big Lake

Higher salinities means speck action should improve on artificial reefs

After a subpar year of speckled trout fishing last year at Calcasieu Lake due to seven flooding events, anglers are hopeful June’s fishing helps them forget about 2017.

Salinity wasn’t right from Easter through September of 2017, according charter boat captain and Hackberry Rod & Gun co-owner Kirk Stansel. And the lake system was still pretty fresh this spring, all the way into late April.

But salinity readings in early May improved tremendously, said Stansel, who owns the guide service (call 337-762-3391) with his brothers Bobby and Guy.

“It’s a whole lot better,” he said. “It’s looking up,”

Without a doubt, Stansel said some of the best speckled trout fishing in June will be at five artificial reefs in the lake — Turner’s Bay Island, Chenier North, the Brad Vincent Reef, Big Jack’s Reef and Chenier South.

“It’s a really good month for all of them,” he said.

The artificial reefs are a boon to the fisheries, and give saltwater anglers more areas to wet a line.

“It helps a whole lot. It gives you other places to fish and helps speckled trout fishermen out. You see a lot of traffic but they’re pretty big reefs — all 5 to 9 acres,” he said.

“I really don’t have a favorite. They’re all really good,” Stansel said, noting the one(s) with the cleanest water and favorable wind conditions are his first choices.

Three of them are in approximately 7-foot depths. Turner’s Bay Island is in 3 to 4 feet of water, and Chenier South is in 5- to 6-foot depths.

Normally, Stansel said, he catches most of his fish on the upcurrent side of the reefs. While speckled trout generally are at the reefs, sometimes they are located off the man-made structures.

CCA’s Brad Vincent Reef and Big Jack’s Reef are marked with buoys, the veteran saltwater fishing guide said.

Here are coordinates for the CCA installations:

• Turner’s Bay Island… Limestone


GPS: 30° 3’ 0.36, 93° 18’ 0.371

• Brad Vincent Reef … Crushed concrete structure

GPS: 29° 56’ 30.844, 93° 17’ 24.893

• Big Jack’s Reef… Recycled whole and crushed concrete

GPS: 29° 53’ 14.551, 93° 16’ 47.421

Topwaters, suspending baits and soft plastics, plus live bait, are all effective at the artificial reefs. When the water’s pretty, all that’s needed is artificials, Stansel said.

He loves to catch fish with topwaters like Skitterwalks and Zara Spooks in bone, black or anything with chartreuse.

His favorite suspending bait is a small MirrOdine, which he rips through the water.

He fishes the topwaters and suspending baits on 20- to 30-pound braided line with a 2-foot leader of 30-pound monofilament.

As for soft plastics, he uses 3/16th-ounce H&H Salty Grubs, H&H Cocahoes and Hackberry Hustlers. Glow is one of the top colors, as well as avocado/red flake, he said.

About Don Shoopman 556 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.