John's Journal...

The Speckled Trout Capital of the World- Lake Calcasieu

What about the Redfish?

Click to enlargeEditor’s Note: Last week, I fished the Speckled Trout Capital of the world – Hackberry, Louisiana, located on Lake Calcasieu in the western section of the state. In 2005, Hackberry Rod and Gun was destroyed by Hurricane Rita. However, in 10 months, with a lot of hard work and sweat, it was restored. Today, it’s better and stronger than ever before, and the lake homes giant speckled trout, big redfish and plenty of medium-to- small fish. This week, we’ll take a look at fishing from Hackberry Rod and Gun. But I won’t be able to show you the delicious food I ate – gumbo, fish and all your favorite vegetables, meats and desserts. Life doesn’t get any better than it is at Hackberry. Kirk Stansel, one of the owners of Hackberry Rod and Gun, was my guide this past week on Lake Calcasieu.

Question: You catch a lot of big redfish here. What has happened to the redfish, since Hurricane Rita?
Stansel: Since Hurricane Rita hit, the redfish have gone nuts. We’re catching them on all the shorelines, on the reefs and under the birds. If you’re fishing with live bait, you’ll catch numbers of little fish. If you fClick to enlargeish with artificial lures, you’ll catch bigger redfish. So, you can pretty-much select the size fish you want to catch by the type of lure you fish. At this time of year, all you have to do at Lake Calcasieu to catch redfish is find a calm shoreline and fish down that shoreline. You’ll more than likely catch your limit of redfish.

Question: Why did the redfish come in so strong after the storm?
Stansel: With all the organic matter in the water, there was a tremendous amount of baitfish for the redfish to eat.

Question: What was the fishing like for redfish before the storm?
Stansel: On a good day, you could catch a limit. But right now, almost everyone catches a limit almost every day.

Question: How big are the fish running?
Stansel: They will be 20- to 30-inches long, depending on the region you’re fishing, the type of baClick to enlargeit you’re using, and the way you’re fishing. As I mentioned, if you fish artificial lures, you’ll catch bigger fish than if you fish with live bait, which is why I prefer to fish with artificial lures if I can. You can catch 15- to 20-inch redfish all day with live bait on almost every cast.

Question: What’s your best bait for redfish, and is that bait different than what will be your best bait for speckled trout?
Stansel: I use a lot of spoons, particularly the ones Mepps makes, when I’m fishing for redfish. If the water’s dingy, the redfish really like splashing the bait. By that I mean lures that put off a lot of flash like spoons do. They also like scented lures like the Mister Twister Exude lures, which work especially well in stained water.

Question: Do you rig differently for redfish than you do for speckled trout?
Stansel: Not necessarily. I use the same rods, reels and lines. I just enjoy fighting a big redfish on light tackle, like 10- and 12-pound-test lines. Many people prefer 20-pound-test line. Most people believe they break their lines because the lines aren’t strong enough to hold the fish they’re catching. But the truth is the line’s plenty strong enough. People just have their drags set too tight. When fishing with 10- or 12-pounClick to enlarged-test line, you need to fish with a lighter drag.

Question: Why do you like 12-pound-test line?
Stansel: I prefer that size for several reasons. Lighter line casts better and further than heavier line does, and you get better action with your lures on light line than you do with heavy line. Light line can be very effective for catching big fish, if the anglers will loosen up on their drags. Although there’s a little more structure on Lake Calcasieu after Hurricane Rita than there was before, there’s still not so much structure in the lake that you have to worry about the structure breaking your line. So, remember to fish with a lighter drag than you probably think you’ll need. We fish mostly over sand bottoms and oyster reefs.

Question: What’s the biggest redfish you’ve seen come out of this lake?
Stansel: There was a 46-pound redfish caught at the jetty about 5-years ago.

Question: On an average day, about how many redfish will you catch?
Stansel: You easily can catch 20 to 30 redfish in a day, as long as the weather’s nice, and you have a good day of fishing, which depends on weather conditions.

To learn more about Hackberry Rod and Gun, go to, or call 888-762-3391. For more information about Mister Twister’s top-quality products, visit

Tomorrow: What about the Birds?

Check back each day this week for more about "The Speckled Trout Capital of the World- Lake Calcasieu"

Day 1: More Trout and More Reds on an Ill Wind
Day 2: Big Trout on the Shoreline
Day 3: Trout Fishing Doesn’t Get Much Better Than This
Day 4: What about the Redfish?
Day 5: What about the Birds?



Entry 408, Day 4