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Bull Reds in Bad Weather at Lake Calcasieu Pass

            When the bull reds are biting hard in Southwest Louisiana the demand from saltwater anglers equals the supply of trips available from local fishing guides. Fortunate to book a trip with Big Lake Guide Service on Lake Calcasieu, the date of our trip was secure, but a North wind and sloppy conditions on the water dictated our plans. Sometimes though a hard day of fishing yields outstanding results, and we beat the odds to catch multiple bull redfish during a memorable day of fishing in Cajun country.

            Will Precht is with Visit Lake Charles Tourism in Louisiana and he is also a native of Cameron Parish. Big Lake Guide Service is a father and son operation, founded by Capt. Jeff Poe, with son Capt. Nick Poe recently notching his tenth year as a guide. They all agree that the bayou, marshes and wildlife found in this area make it part of God’s country, and I am fast becoming a believer too. Fishing trips originate from a private dock, which is near Hebert’s Marina, and we fished out of a Dorado 25 boat powered with a Mercury 350 four-stroke engine.

            It had been windy the day before and a cool front passed through Lake Charles overnight, so I dressed for the weather wearing long pants, two shirts and a jacket. We loaded our gear into the skiff and headed out into big water, followed by a 30-minute white-knuckle boat ride to the Lake Calcasieu Pass jetties. Arriving at the jetties I inquired if they make that run every day to go fishing and Capt. Jeff replied it was this jetties or nowhere during wind from the North. Everyone in the boat wished they had brought more clothes at this point, but with only two other boats in sight, we realized that most folks had canceled any fishing plans.

            Using a trolling motor Capt. Nick brought us closer to the rocks at the tip of the jetty and we began casting artificial lures into the water. A rip current was clearly visible on the other side of the jetties and a flock of birds began hovering over the water picking up bait. Just then I saw the bronze back of a redfish break the surface of the water in that rip, and when Capt. Nick saw the same action he quickly changed the boat position to the other side of the rocks. Another nearby boat did not see the redfish due to the windy conditions and the rest is redfishing history.

            The cold front had the bull redfish bite on fire, but only in one small area where the rip current met the tip of the jetty, and we were perfectly positioned to cast there. I was the first to cast into the strike zone and a redfish with shoulders ate my chartreuse offering, and tore off down the jetties peeling 20-pound Power Pro off the reel, causing Capt. Nick to come over and tighten down the drag. The medium-action Falcon rod was doubled completely over but proved to be the right stick for a very sporting battle with a 35-inch redfish that was caught and released.

            That first fish may have been the largest of the day but we went on to catch more than a dozen full-grown redfish, electing to keep three smaller reds for supper. I was not the only one catching fish, because with the bite as hot as spicy gumbo, both guides and Precht took turns casting into the sweet spot. We had more than a few double hook ups with everyone taking turns netting the fish as they came to the side of the boat. Again, these redfish filled up the net and it took a bit of care to lift them into the boat before removing the hook and returning them to the water.

Our photos document the fish quite well, but not the exact location. We were in 16-feet of water where the rip current rubbed against the tip of the jetty, taking an accurate cast to land next to a large rock and not get hung up, before knowing almost instantly if a fish was there waiting on the lure. The bite did taper off for short periods of time as the school no doubt drifted away to follow bait, but that same school would swim back into the hot spot and Capt. Nick never moved the boat. The other boats fishing all around us never caught any redfish, and we absolutely crushed those reds one after another for all to see.

The wind never ceased picking up and by mid-morning Capt. Nick declared that water levels near his dock would be dropping out and that we needed to run back in. The 18-mile return trek wound us through channels and bayous to avoid the big water, but it was another bruising 30-minute boat ride that would take a toll. I give credit to BigLakeGuideService.com for putting us on the fish in tough conditions. Seeing those redfish feeding so hearty due to the cold front was a real treat, further revealing how Mother Nature can affect the behavior of fish.



Jeff Dennis is a Lowcountry native. Read his blog at LowcountryOutdoors.com

Jeff Dennis, Contributor (360 Posts)

Jeff Dennis is a Lowcountry native. Read his blog at www.LowcountryOutdoors.com