Known locally as “Big Lake”, Calcasieu Lake is a southwest Louisiana brackish lake favored by many anglers for its redfish and trout population. Located mostly in Cameron Parish, Calcasieu Lake is about a thirty minute drive from Lake Charles, the most populated city located 17 miles to the north. It’s not as wide as it is long, and runs parallel with Louisiana Highway 27.
Calcasieu Lake is 56,000+ acres filled with brackish waters, which is a mixture of freshwater and saltwater. The freshwater is from the Calcasieu River, a 200-mile river that flows south into the lake. Saltwater enters from the Gulf of Mexico through the Calcasieu Pass near Cameron, Louisiana. Cameron is a major port for commercial fishermen and women.
Recreational anglers can get in on the action when fishing this top-rated lake of Louisiana. The many marshes found throughout the basin of Calcasieu Lake create habitats perfect for shrimp, shad, and menhaden, which bring good numbers of redfish, seatrout and flounder. Anglers are not far behind….
Trout, trout, trout. That’s the number one species for anglers fishing Calcasieu Lake. The lake has built a reputation thanks to the amazing trout fishery found here. A typical lake will produce maybe one or two “gator” trout (a term designated for larger trout); In Calcasieu Lake, a 5 to 8 pound trout is the norm. Anglers can catch multiple gator trouts in one outing, and then more in the next outing. It’s the consistent numbers of big fish that bring anglers back for more again and again.
Also known as “specks”, speckled trout are silver with black spots along their back and a white belly. When fishing over the muddy bottom flats of the northwest side, use topwater plugs or soft-plastics. During the summer, fish the reefs near the middle of the lake with a popping cork. Popping corks imitate the sounds of shrimp and crab, and the trout simply can’t resist the temptation of nearby food. Calcasieu Lake trout regulations include a 12 inch-minimum slot size, and 25 daily bag limit.
Redfish are another highly sought-after target throughout Big Lake. They tend to be near the same areas as trout, feeding on shrimp and shad as well. Redfish, also known as red drum, or “bull reds” when measured at over 27 inches, are identifiable by their bronze color and distinct black dot located near the tail. They are known for putting up a good fight and are a prize catch for anglers throughout the Gulf states.
If you’re fishing during summer months, redfish tend to move to shallow waters near the edges of the lake and jetties. Cooler temperatures of spring and fall will move them closer to the marshes and cover. If fishing the shoreline, use topwater plugs, soft-plastics, or spoons. Redfish near the jetties will take live bait offerings of shrimp, crab, finger mullets, or menhaden. Any day of the year is a good time to plan your redfish Calcasieu Lake fishing excursion, weather permitting.
Looking for a bit of a challenge when fishing Big Lake? Consider targeting flounder; this flatfish appears in good numbers and in good size throughout the lake. Flounder are brown on the top and white on the bottom, allowing them to camouflage themselves to the bottom of the lake as they hide from predators and prey. The muddy bottom of the lake helps to disguise them as they lay in ambush before striking their food. A good presentation is key when fishing for flounder.
Fall months are the time to plan your flounder trip in Calcasieu Lake. Especially in November when the weather starts to get colder and they begin their migration through the pass. Fish with soft-plastics, or live bait such as finger mullets or minnows to attract your target. Don’t start reeling at the first strike. Wait for the flounder to take the bait before reeling in the line or you’ll be crying about “the one that got away.”
Whether you’re fishing for trout, redfish, or flounder, it’s bound to be a great day of fishing Calcasieu Lake! If you’re not familiar with the area, consider hiring a local guide. They will have all the gear you need and can improve success rates. You’ll have the best chance at catching your “personal best” fish when fishing with a Calcasieu Lake guide! They’ve spent decades becoming intimately familiar with the seasonal patterns of the local gamefish, ensuring a rod bending trip no matter what time of the year you’re planning to fish Calcasieu Lake.
With close proximity to Texas, many Lone Star State anglers will frequently visit Big Lake. It’s about a two and a half hour drive from Houston when you travel east on Interstate 10. Louisiana anglers already know the benefits that the lake has to offer and will also travel several miles to fish the popular lake. Lake Charles, located to the north, is the largest city closest to the lake. Other nearby cities include Hackberry to the west and Cameron to the south.