Gulf Coast Fisherman Magazine VOL 41, No. 1 | Page 6

byby Nate Skinner

Say Goodbye to Winter Blues on Lake Calcasieu

“ T he wind felt like icy daggers against my skin as we cut across open water heading to the north . My knuckles were white as I clung to the rail of the console and tried to hunker down behind the windshield to find refuge from the chilly air . Big Lake Guide Service ’ s Captain Nick Poe pulled his cap down tight as he throttled down , pointing the bow of the boat straight into the moderate northern breeze . He knew all too well that the seemingly brutal boat ride would be worth the 20 minutes of discomfort . I was hoping he was right and zipped up the open top half of my jacket .

Reaching a protected flat we slowed down to an idle and it immediately felt like someone had turned on the heater . Shielded from the wind , the water was teeming with mullet as we scrambled for our rods and tried to thaw out . Poe was quick to get the trolling motor in the water . He eased us out in front of a point along the shoreline where there was a dense concentration of baitfish milling around on the surface .
“ There ’ s some scattered shell here on this mud flat right before the drop-off that ’ s out in front of us ,” he explained . “ Usually there are some good ones hanging right on the edge of the shell around the depth change .”
We launched our mullet imitation
plugs toward the nervous bait and began methodically working them back to the boat with slow , erratic retrieves . Twitch , pause . Twitch , twitch pause . That was my rhythm . On the third pause , I felt a subtle , yet distinct thump .
My hook-set immediately rendered a wide yellow mouth thrashing at the surface as the head shaking battle commenced . The heavy trout was not alone , and just as I landed her , Poe ’ s rod doubled on another bite from a quality fish . The “ good ones ” he was referring to were definitely here and willing to play . All of a sudden the cold weather began to give off a refreshing feel along the north end of Big Lake .
Calcasieu Lake , often referred to as Big Lake , is an extremely productive estuary located in southwest Louisiana . It lies mostly within Cameron Parish , about 17 miles south of Lake Charles and its western shore is paralleled by Louisiana Highway 27 . Big Lake is known for its exceptional speckled trout and redfish fishery , not to
mention its strong population of flounder .
The shear number of fish here are not the only aspect drawing anglers to the area . Its estuarine waters regularly give up trophy sized speckled trout as well as football shaped three to five pounders by the dozens . Upper slot reds are often found roaming in schools across the lake with plenty of drag pulling bulls mixed in .
If large fish are the target , winter is arguably the best time of year to pursue trout and reds on Big Lake . This is mainly due to the fact that the fish become easy to pattern with the onset of winter weather . I ’ ve fished the lake in some of the nastiest , frigid conditions and been glad I braved the elements .
Mild wintertime periods are productive here , too . Calcasieu Lake provides anglers with plenty of hot spots to catch numbers of fish as well as a wall hanger . Deciding which of these locations will produce the best bite depends on the wind direction and water temperature , as well as the prevailing conditions .
According to Poe , Big Lake is currently holding plenty of salty water which is going to make its northern portion a great area to fish this winter for a number of reasons .
Author with a nice speck caught in the lake on a warm afternoon between cold fronts . The mouth of Lambert Bayou during an outgoing tide will produce plenty of hook-ups .
( Continued on page 13 .)
Photos by author . 6 G U L F C O A S T F I S H E R M A N W W W . G U L F F I S H I N G . C O M